Column: Teaching the game of golf to your friends

'Tee It Up'

I have seen many boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, friends and parents doing their best to teach those they care about how to play golf. It usually involves going out to a driving range, attempting to hit a golf ball with a full swing while thinking of a myriad of mechanics. Go out to a driving range sometime and just sit there and observe.

It is sometimes comical and sometimes sad. But most of the time, it is frustrating, both to the “student” and to the “instructor.”

Here are some of the demands you will hear from the “instructor:”

• Keep your head down

• Keep your left arm straight

• Feel like you are sitting on a bar stool

• Don’t move your legs

• Swing it straight back and straight through

Think about learning how to play golf in terms of learning how to read and write. First, you learned your A, B, Cs by recognition and models and then the deliberate duplication of writing each letter. After you have fully learned this, you put the letters together to form words. Then words became sentences, sentences became paragraphs, paragraphs became stories. Your teacher did not show you the alphabet one day and then asked you to read a book the next. If that was the case, none of us would have learned how to read or write.

But that is what these well intended “golf instructors” just did!

Here is what I propose that you do if you want to teach someone how to play golf. First, let them go out with you on a golf course and just observe the game. That way they can see what the game is all about. And that is getting the ball in the hole in the least number of strokes as possible. Explain the areas of the golf course including the tee box, fairway, rough, green, bunkers, hazards, etc.

Let them experience the outdoors, inhale the fresh air, enjoy the nature that abounds, and the friendships that are produced. They will get an appreciation of the beauty of being on a golf course, away from everyday pressures and challenges. And most importantly, show them how much fun it is.

Then, after they see how the game is played, start at the hole and work your way from there. Start with putting by just hitting a ball into the hole from 2 inches. Then go from there, increasing the length of the putts.

After they are somewhat good at putting, introduce the mechanics of short shots from off the green. After they have mastered the fundamentals of putting and short shots, you can introduce the full swing, starting off with the shorter clubs and working up to the woods and the driver.

Then you can introduce the golf course and how to actually play golf, along the way, you teach them the language unique to golf, rules and etiquette. We will discuss these later.

LPGA Hall of Fame Member Louise Suggs said, “The most important advice I’d give any woman just starting to play is: learn the fundamentals correct.”

John Gunby Sr. is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Reach him by email at