Outdoor Living

Getting on the Green

Getting on the Green

Photo courtesy Spanish Oaks Golf Course

With beautiful weather now emerging from the chill of early spring, many locals are gearing up to go play in the great outdoors. There are many outdoor activities to choose from here in Utah Valley, and opportunities to try something new around every corner. Have you ever driven by a gorgeous green golf course and thought to yourself, “That looks like fun!” as you watch the players driving and putting in their beautiful surroundings? Perhaps you have even thought about trying golf, but weren’t quite sure where to begin. Well, luckily for you, Utah Valley Health and Wellness got with PGA Golf Professional Ryan Rhees to find out what you need to know to get on the green. Here are his answers to some common questions beginners have about golf:

What kind of costs can a person expect to see to start playing golf?

There are a couple of answers to this question.  To go to a golf course and putt and chip at their practice area usually costs nothing, and you can stay and practice as long as you like.  To hit balls on the driving range will usually cost between $5 and $10 for a bucket of range balls. To play on the course gets a little more expensive.  It will generally run about $12-$15 for 9 holes walking, and $24-$30 to walk 18 holes.  Renting clubs, if you do not have your own, will cost about $10- $20 depending on the course.  To purchase clubs you will pay anywhere from $200 up to $2,000 for a set, depending on how expensive you want to go.  So the answer to the question is it can be expensive, but you can also practice your short game and hit balls on the range for much less.

Is it better to buy your own clubs or just rent a set?

 If you want to play more than a couple of times a year, it’s better to purchase your own clubs.  As stated above, it will generally run between $200 up to $2,000 for a set of clubs and a bag—depending on how much you want to spend.  Most courses have rental sets, and here at Spanish Oaks we don’t charge to use our rental clubs on the range or on the practice putting greens, we only charge to use them on the course.  So, if you are a beginner, you can come hit balls and use our rental sets to give golf a try before you go out and purchase your own set of clubs.

What are the different clubs and equipment included in a golf bag?

A standard set of clubs consists of 14 clubs.  Generally the set makeup is as follows: Driver, fairway wood, 1 or 2 hybrid clubs, putter, set of irons (4,5,6,7,8,9), pitching wedge, and sand wedge. The clubs that can hit the ball the farthest are the woods. The degree of loft (angle of the club face in relation to the shaft) increases with the number of the club. As the loft of the club increases, so does the height of the shot, which translates into a shorter distance the ball will travel. The wedges have the highest loft of any golf club. This allows the player to hit the ball short distances as well as get it high in the air.

Should you sign up for lessons or simply just “start swinging”?

You can certainly just come to the driving range and start hitting balls to see how you like it, but it does help to get some professional instruction at some point to learn the fundamentals of the golf swing.  Lessons can run anywhere from $25 – $150 for an individual lesson, or some courses offer group lessons for a discounted price.

Is it better to practice on a driving range or practice by playing rounds?

I think it is better to start on the driving range for a few practice sessions before going on the golf course.  This will give the player a chance to learn how to hit the ball and get used to it, as well as learn how far they can hit with the different clubs before getting on the course.  They should also do some practice around the practice putting green before going on the course.

Are there certain courses that are better for beginners?

Yes—I think the easier the course the better for beginners.  Courses that have a lot of water hazards, canyons, trees, and bunkers are more difficult.  I would also suggest calling the course before you go to ask when the least busy times are so you can enjoy your round more and not be pushed by other golfers.

What are the most common mistakes new golfers makes?

One of the most common mistakes I see is when a group of new golfers goes out on the course without someone who has played before who understands how to get around the course, take care of the course, etc.  Keeping the pace of play moving along and course etiquette are important aspects of public golf, and it can be frustrating if you are new to the game and have not played before. Try to go with someone who has played on the course several times who can help you around and help you have an enjoyable experience. Also talk to them beforehand about golf course etiquette so when you get on the course you have some general ideas.

What is your advice for new golfers that often find themselves feeling frustrated?

Golf can definitely be a frustrating game at times, especially for those who are good at other sports, because golf does take a little longer to pick up than some other sports.  I would say just be patient with it.  It takes work and practice to improve and get better.  Generally speaking, golf is not a sport you can play a couple of times a year—or even once a month—and expect to improve.  It takes practice on a regular basis to see improvement.  Also, I would suggest to get some basic instruction from a PGA golf professional. It will not only improve your game, it will enhance your enjoyment of it if you know the basics.

What is the proper attire on the golf course?

Some of the more expensive, higher end public and private courses require collared shirts and nicer shorts—but most public courses in Utah allow tee shirts and shorts, as well as Levis. Be sure to call the course you are going to play ahead of time to find out what their attire policy is.

 Any other advice for a new golfer?

Once you get started, I think you will want to play more and more, and really enjoy being outdoors with family or friends playing a great sport that you can do at any age. If you have not given golf a try, come to the course— we have equipment for you to hit some range balls and putt and chip on our practice greens. It doesn’t cost much to give it a try and see how you like it.

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Written by Ryan Rhees

Ryan Rhees is the Head PGA Professional at Spanish Oaks golf course located in Spanish Fork, UT. For more information or to contact Ryan, please visit www.golfspanishoaks.com or call 801-804-4653. Photo courtesy of Fairways Media/Randy Dodson.