Golf for Beginners FAQ

Male golfer preparing to hit tee shot
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Our Golf for Beginners FAQ is designed to answer some of the questions newcomers to the game are sure to have. If you're looking for the meaning of specific golf terms, try the golf glossary. And if you're looking for instructional articles and videos, see our Golf Tips section.

Scorekeeping and Scorecards

On the Course

Where can I drive the golf cart on the course?

Many courses, on most days, do allow golfers to driver riding carts onto the fairways. But every course has its own rules for golf carts. So a good general rule of thumb is this: Unless you know otherwise, only drive the golf cart on the designated cart paths.

A course usually has its golf cart rules on its scorecard or posted in the clubhouse or near the first tee, so be sure to check those out. If you learn that the "90-degree rule" is in effect, this means that you can take the cart onto the fairway, but only at 90-degree angles. If you are told that the cart path only rule is in effect, then keep your cart on the designated cart paths at all times. See Golf Cart Rules & Etiquette for more.

Rules of Golf

Practice and Lessons

How long does it take to become good?

The answer to that question depends on many factors: Your aptitude for golf, your goals, your willingness to work on your game, your ability to learn and adjust. A good idea is to set goals in stages. If you're a golf beginner, don't go into it thinking, "I want to be shooting par in six months." You're almost certain to be very disappointed when that six-month mark arrives because only a minuscule percentage of players ever become par-shooters - much less that quickly.

Set an easier target. Break 100 first, then concentrate on breaking 90 and so on. Or just set a goal to reach a level of competence at which you can enjoy a round of golf with your friends. You'll know it when you reach it.

For those who really want to become great golfers the most important factor is a willingness to work hard on becoming better. Golf is learned through repetition (and the repetition of the right things). That means practice, practice and more practice. Taking lessons will greatly speed up the process.

Before and After the Round

Golf Clubs

Why are they called "woods" when they aren't made of wood?

The woods are the longer golf clubs in a golfer's bag - the driver, the 3-wood, 5-wood, sometimes even 7- or 9-woods. But the clubheads are metal, not wood. So why are they called "woods"? Because for most of the history of golf clubs, those clubs did have wooden club heads. Persimmon, usually. It was only relatively recently that metal replaced wood as the material of choice for the "woods." But the woods had been, well, wood for so long that most golfers still call them that.

Golf Balls

Accessories (Shoes, Gloves, Etc.)

Shopping and Buying