One of the most common question golfers who just began playing or people thinking about starting golf asked themselves is how many hours should them dedicate to golf in the beginning specially if they want to accomplish a decent level, which lets say for the sake of the article that “decent level” equals to the ability to go to a golf course play a golf round with 3 formed golfers and do not bother them at all during the game.
Now, as most of all the question in sports, and the reason why it is very difficult to answer it, there is no general rule as there are a lot of variables to consider such as, age, weight, time and money availability, weather, if the person has done previous sports and which kind (Tennis is slightly similar, American football doesn’t really help much.
Still, even though there may not be a general rule, allow me to at least, help you “the reader” about this matter.
Lets begin with time and from there we can go to other important subjects.
Like I said before, we already set a goal, that goal is to be able to play a golf round without bothering other golfers after 180 days since your first try.
To accomplish this, my humble opinion is the following: You need to do a “mountain shape” training, this means that at the beginning you shouldn’t go crazy about hours in the golf range or course. I would say that twice a week it is perfect for the first 6 weeks. So, the question would be, if I have more time and resources, should I play more? I want to answer, you shouldn’t. This for a various of reasons, to begin with if you haven’t play golf ever in your life or you haven’t play in the last 20 years, there are going to be some small and very tolerable pain specially in the lower part of your back and your elbows. This pain is very small but if the new golfer keeps on pressuring it and playing more than 4 or even 5 times a week there is a very high chance that an injury can happen and for sure after this the future golfer will give up, as of course pain is a very bad experience.
Also at the beginning the body and muscles needs some time to absorb all the information that they are gathering, if you give too much information there would be very little the body will remember. Try to think it as first year of elementary school, you learnt your most important things like reading and doing basic math, but the teachers made you go very slow, giving time to your mind to absorb this knowledge so you will never forget it in your life!
Lastly, progress at the beginning is not very fast, especially in golf, so if you go every day to the driving range and you miss the ball on half of the shoots and you hit the golfer next to you on the other half for sure you will be a dropper. Separating your golf training is going to give you more patience and it will separate your frustration avoiding that boiling point, that lets face it everybody has.
This part of your training should be once a week with a teacher or a low handicap friend helping you out and giving you tips, and the other one by yourself practicing the thigs you were told. Going through this time without help is very bad as the body will remember what you are doing, if what you are doing is wrong then you will be training mistakes, opposite to this if you are practicing on the right track your body will remember this good technique.
A thought I like to give to new golfers in this time of your golf life is a simple but important want. NOBODY WAS BORN LEARNING HOW TO GOLF, WE ALL HAVE TO LEARN, SO WHERE YOU ARE, WHAT YOU FEEL, ETC, WE ALL FELT IT.
The only goal in this time should be to enjoy your practice and to avoid things that may make you quit.
Lets call the part we just read, and hopefully you had already experience, beginning part, now lets proceed towards the middle part, the most important one. This part should go from your 7th week towards your 20th week. Being such an important part see that is more than 3 times the first part.
Once you are here you can leave your friend or teacher (not mandatory but it is an option), as you already know the fundamentals and what to do. This part is all about repetition, just go to the driving range as many times as you want, if you don’t feel any ache and practice your swing towards whatever guidelines you were given. I always recommend having a “safe go to swing” this means a swing that may be shorter or smaller than a regular one that you know you are effective with, usually the kind of swing you would do for an 80 yards swing with a pitching wedge. Once you mastered this you can go for full swings, if eventually you are not hitting the ball well go to you safe swing to regain confidence. The good thing about this part is that you will know your game good enough not to get frustrated and avoid quitting. This part should be very entertaining for you as you will see big improvements almost every week, so don’t be shy and do not worry if one day you are having a bad day, tomorrow will be a new one and again remember, we all felt what you are feeling, even Tiger. One thing I recommend doing on this part is to watch live professional golf on TV or the web and the pros swings to see what you should copy from them. One last advice in this part, this is a little bit personal and may be boring, try to start reading and learning golf rules, golf has more rules than other sports and you should be learning them while you improve your swing as well.
In this middle part feel free to go to the golf course either by yourself or with a teacher, but try to avoid going with regular golfers as yet you may annoy them by taking too long to play or to look for your ball all over the golf course. If you go with regular golfers, once you become good enough (and believe me you are not far from there yet) the will avoid playing with you as the will have a very bad memory of you and your golf round. Just be patient, you are less than a month away from ready.
Once you have finished this middle part the last 4 weeks will be the “end” part. In this part, you can play as many times a week you want, you will be able to figure out what you have to practice and improve, start focusing more in your short game like approach and putter instead of trying to hit 100 balls with your driver over the range fence. Keep on watching golf on TV and learning more about the rules. Now it is also a very good time to think about buying your first set of clubs. Please read my article on “Buying your first set of golf clubs” to know what to buy.
Once you are approaching the end of the six months, go to the golf course by yourself, with your own golf bag and play a single round of golf, no mulligans allowed. It should take you about 3 hours and you shouldn’t lose more than 4 or 5 balls. Once you have successfully done this you are ready to play with all your friends, you will be prepared to play at a good peace, knowing all the rules, and you will become even closer friends. For sure they will invite you back again for next week.