Answer all the beginner questions you were too afraid to ask

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June 7 is a special day for women in golf. To celebrate Women’s Golf Day, golf events are held around the world. If you’re looking for an event, here’s the list of venues, from retail stores to golf courses, that host women for the day. Events are open to all levels, from women looking to take their first swing to women who have been playing for years. We realize it can be intimidating for new golfers to hit the course, so for this edition of the mail we answer a series of questions for beginners. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We were all beginners at one point and had no idea where we were actually allowed to drive the cart.

What time do I need to be for my check out time?

You want to give yourself plenty of time to check in, hit some putts, and practice at the range. So plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your departure time.

Where am I allowed to drive the cart?

You can always drive your cart into the cart path and often you can drive your cart out of the way to your ball. There are a few times when you are not able to do this:

Where do I throw the ball and who plays first?

When you start, make sure that the course is as short as possible: start from the start as high as possible. There will be two tee markers, place your ball between these markers so that if an invisible line were drawn between the markers, your ball would not be in front of that line.

For a casual round, you can create your own order of who comes out first from the first hole. I usually have my group standing in a circle and one person throwing a tee in the air. The person the tee points to when it lands is the first person to go. Throw it again to see who goes second and third, and the last person left goes fourth.

Once you’re on the course, technically, the person with the lowest score on the previous hole is supposed to play the next hole first. But when you play casually, it is good to play “Ready Golf”. This means whoever is ready must strike first. It helps to get things going. If you play more advanced tees than your playing partners, let them hit first and go to your tee after they are done. It wastes time if you strike first and then have to go back and let them strike.

When you come off the tee and onto the course, whoever is furthest from the hole must play first. But again, if you’re both similar distances from the hole, don’t worry about who’s actually farther: play golf ready. (Another thing that helps maintain a fast pace of play is to only take one practice swing before each shot.)

Where should I stand while others are knocking?

While others are hitting, never stand in front of them or within range of their swing. Standing next to them, about eight feet from them, is a good place. It’s also good not to stand behind them, even if you’re at a safe distance, as it can be distracting to strike while someone is standing behind you. Once on the green, there’s no harm in getting closer: you won’t be hurt by a wayward putt in the same way you might be hurt by a badly hit iron.

How to act like a golfer:

What should I do if my ball goes to another hole?

It happens to everyone, so don’t be shy. You can hit from there, but if you have to venture to another hole, just know that you don’t have right of way. If people play this hole, they strike first. Wait for them to pass you before exiting into their hole. It’s best to play fast and try to hit your ball directly on the hole you’re supposed to play. If it doesn’t work the first time, pick up your ball and return to the hole you are playing to help maintain the pace of play.

If you’re on the green and realize you’ve forgotten a marker (it happens to me all the time), instead of reaching for your bag and rummaging around to find one, you can use a tee. Honestly, in the occasional round I’ve done things like grab a leaf from the green and use it as a marker in a pinch. Don’t stress about it.

I saw people mark the ball on the green, how are you supposed to do that?

Marking the ball on the putting green is useful for your playing partners because you don’t want your ball to interfere with their putt. You don’t need anything fancy, a quarter will work. (But there are lots of cute ball marker options you can buy.) Stand behind the ball so it’s between you and the hole and place the mark directly behind the ball. Pick up the ball and once it is your turn to putt, place the ball in front of the mark and pick up the mark.

When you’re learning to play, it may feel like there’s a lot to know. But really, nobody cares whether you know all the rules or not. The most important thing is not to be the slowest person in your group: play golf ready, make only one practice swing, and if you have a bad hole, pick up and join your group on the green for a few putts. As for learning how to play better, we recommend that you take lessons. Here are some resources to help you find the right instructor for you:

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