Golf Tips For Women: Kathy DeNeui

Bringing new players into the game

Dear Kathy
A good friend of mine has started talking about playing golf when she retires. She’s not very athletic and she wants me to take her golfing. I don’t want to discourage her, but I think it would be a disaster! I don’t know where to start and I think she thinks she can just go out and play. What would be a gentle way to tell her I can’t do this?
– Bonnie

Hi Bonnie:
You’ve obviously made golf sound fun to her, as she’s looking to you to get her started. It all goes back to the “how do you eat an elephant” riddle, “one bite at a time”! Perhaps you could extend an invitation to watch golf on tv, and explain some of the lingo to her, and some of the etiquette in a non nagging environment. The next step would be to ask the pro at your course if she could walk with you as you play nine holes. Choose a time and game where you won’t be too distracted, and you can keep up a dialog with her on how the game is played.
If she’s still interested, it’s time to turn her over to a professional to teach her how to swing. Many women think it’s more fun to learn with a group, others need more one on one, see what she’s most comfortable with. You can stay in the loop and set up practice times, for hitting balls, putting and chipping. Sharing your experience of how you started playing, and how many buckets of balls you hit before you made your way onto the course is a good way to help her with the reality of getting into the game. Talk with her pro about setting goals of when she’ll be ready to go on the course to play so she’ll have a clear idea how to get to that step.
When the big day comes, pick an easy course without a lot of water or sand, and explain to her how to either play a scramble with you, or just hit four times on every fairway after her tee shot, then pick up her ball and drop it on the green to putt. Please let her know the first time on the course, is not about how well she can hit the ball, it’s about learning how to get around the course, and picking up your ball is not a sign of failure! Laugh, play silly games, and make if fun, and you will soon have another golfing friend!

Kathy DeNeui is an LPGA teaching professional at Battle Creek Golf Course.