Beginner’s Guide To Playing 18 Holes of Golf

Beginner's Guide to Playing 18 Holes of Golf

Stepping onto a golf course for the first time can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Golf is a beautiful sport that combines precision, strategy, and camaraderie.

In this beginner’s guide, we will walk you through the essentials of playing 18 holes of golf, from selecting the right clubs for each shot to understanding how your score is calculated.

We will also delve into unexpected challenges you might encounter, such as bunkers, and discuss the importance of a golf handicap in your development as a golfer.

Selecting the Right Clubs

  1. Tee Shots (Driver): The first shot on each hole is typically taken from the tee box. For distance, you’ll use your driver (also known as a 1-wood). It has the lowest loft and is designed to hit the ball as far as possible.
  2. Fairway Shots (Irons): After your tee shot, you’ll likely need an iron. Irons are numbered from 3 to 9, with lower numbers delivering more distance. Use a mid-range iron like a 5 or 6 iron for shots from the fairway.
  3. Approach Shots (Wedges): As you get closer to the green, switch to your wedges. Wedges include the pitching wedge (PW), sand wedge (SW), and lob wedge (LW). These clubs provide loft and control for precise shots onto the green.
  4. Putting (Putter): Once you’re on the green, use your putter to roll the ball into the hole. Putting requires finesse and touch, so practice your putting strokes.

Understanding Golf Scores

Golf uses a unique scoring system called stroke play. The objective is to complete each hole in as few strokes as possible. Here’s how it works:

  • Each hole has a designated par score, representing the expected number of strokes for an accomplished golfer to complete the hole. Par scores vary but are usually 3, 4, or 5 strokes for each hole.
  • Your score on a hole is the number of strokes it takes you to complete it. If you finish a par-4 hole in 5 strokes, your score for that hole is +1 (one stroke over par).
  • Golf is typically played over 18 holes, and your total score for the round is the sum of your scores on each hole.
  • The goal is to have the lowest possible score. If you finish a round with a total of 90 strokes, you shot 18 over par (90 – 72, assuming a par-72 course).

Challenging Situations: Dealing with Bunkers

Bunkers are sandy hazards found on golf courses, and they can be intimidating for beginners. Here’s how to approach bunker shots:

  1. Club Selection: For bunker shots, use a sand wedge (SW) or a lob wedge (LW). These clubs have a high loft, allowing you to get the ball up and out of the sand.
  2. Stance and Technique: When in a bunker, open your stance (point your feet slightly left of the target for right-handed players) and position the ball forward in your stance. Hit the sand just behind the ball with a sweeping motion. The sand will propel the ball onto the green.
  3. Don’t Rush: Bunker shots require finesse. Take your time to practice your bunker technique and don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to get the hang of it.

Golf Handicap: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

A golf handicap is a measure of a golfer’s playing ability, expressed as a number. The lower the handicap, the better the golfer. Handicaps serve several important purposes:

  1. Fair Competition: Handicaps level the playing field in matches between players of different skill levels. A player with a higher handicap will receive strokes to make the game fair and competitive.
  2. Progress Tracking: Your handicap allows you to track your improvement over time. As you become a better golfer, your handicap will decrease.
  3. Tournament Eligibility: Many golf tournaments require participants to have an official handicap. This ensures that players are grouped with others of similar skill levels.
  4. Course Difficulty: Handicaps help golfers adjust their expectations based on the difficulty of the course. A high handicap player may struggle more on a challenging course than a low handicap player.


Playing 18 holes of golf can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, even for beginners. Remember to select the right clubs for each shot, understand how golf scores are calculated, and practice your technique for challenging situations like bunker shots.

Additionally, consider keeping track of your golf handicap as it provides a measure of your progress and ensures fair competition. With practice, patience, and a love for the game, you’ll find yourself enjoying golf and improving your skills with each round you play.