Watch a few golf swings on your computer. Google “golf swing” and you should find some worthwhile video, as long as you don’t put “Charles Barkley” in the search. (And if you think this is an inside joke, Google “worst golf swings” and see who comes up!)
Go to the driving range and buy a small bucket of balls. These may be paid for and dispensed electronically, but you can figure it out – you use ATMs and Laundromats and eBay, how hard can this be? Do remember to put the bucket below the ball dispenser or things could get messy.
Borrow a club from the golf course shop or the shack at the range – they’ll be happy to lend you one or two, free of charge, in hopes of hooking you in. A favorite among newbies: 7-iron.
Now, try to hit some balls. See how hard it is? Don’t waste a lot of time before moving on to the 5th hole.
Look around the range for someone who seems to know what he’s doing – even better, what she’s doing. Go and watch admiringly for a few shots, and then ask if she knows of a good instructor. If you’re really lucky, maybe she is one!
Make some calls to find an instructor willing to book you for a series at a convenient time. These usually come in sets of six half-hours starting at as little as $200, depending on the instructor, the area code, the economy. If this doesn’t break your budget, advance to the 9th hole.
Whatever you do, don’t hire your spouse, boyfriend, partner or friend. The advice may be good, but your relationship may not stand the stress, cursing and name-calling.
Check out group programs – some courses gear these toward women, and the PGA of America’s “Get Golf Ready” program of a series of small-group lessons for as little as $99 has been an especially big hit with women. Your local recreation and parks department may offer bargain basement classes.
Practice your new knowledge at least once in between lessons or classes. You will not only get comfortable with the golf swing, you will begin making friends at the range and may find some who will not be too high-falutin’ to play with you.
Had a few lessons with that 7-iron? No matter what the sales people say, it is not time for you to get fitted for brand new golf clubs -- but do get fitted (free, up to $50) and then use the specs to start shopping for a gently used set. Yes, shopping, you’re good at this! You want irons of at least 6-iron down to SW (sand wedge), a driver, a few fairway woods and a putter.
Thinking it’s time to venture onto the course? Ask a good friend for an etiquette lesson that starts with not talking when someone’s hitting, proceeds to fixing divots, and concentrates on moving around the golf course efficiently so as not to slow play.