Playing for the first time on the course can feel daunting, but so far in this series, we have gone through shots and techniques to help us deal with most situations that we may face. This is your guide to getting out on the course, we are going to look at where to play, which tees to use, key areas on the course and essential course etiquette and rules.

Golf courses can come in many shapes and sizes, from monstrous Championship courses to much more friendly par 3s and pitch and putt courses. For our first experience we want to make it as enjoyable as possible, so picking a course that matches our current ability is key. Generally, we are best off starting small and building up, for example, a par 3 course or a 9-hole course playing no more than 2500 yards (or an 18-hole course around 5000 yards).

Areas on the course have defined names in the rules, the key ones are; the teeing area, penalty area, bunkers, and putting green.

The teeing area is where we start each hole, the ball can be placed (on a tee or the ground, your choice!) between the tee markers and up to 2 club lengths back. Penalty areas are typically bodies of water or any area marked by red or yellow stakes. As the name suggests, there is a penalty if we choose to take relief from these areas! Bunkers are specially prepared areas of sand, often a hollow in the ground. Lastly, the putting green is the area on the hole specifically designed for putting, and is the shortest cut grass on the hole.

Almost all courses will have at least 3 different tees to choose from; forward tees (often red), middle tees (often yellow) and back tees (often white, blue or black). The back tees are usually reserved for competitions, the middle tees are for general play with experienced golfers and the forward tees are for people new to the game or those who feel their distance is more suited to starting closer to the green. 

Depending on experience and how far we can hit the ball, our best option may even be to play from closer to the hole than the forward tees. As a rule of thumb if we are able to consistently hit the driver around 150 yards or more on the driving range then we should have no problem playing from the forward tees, if shorter than that, we want to start from the fairway.

Completing holes in an appropriate time, or keeping a good ‘pace of play’ is an important piece of golf etiquette. As a rough guide, it should take no more than 10 minutes to complete a par 3, 13 minutes to complete a par 4 and 15 minutes to complete a par 5. To help you maintain good time and avoid unnecessary rushing we can start at the forward tee and also we can implement our own rules (if we are just playing a social round, not a competition) such as playing “ready golf”.

When you get to a course, introduce yourself to the professional, explain that you are new to the game and see if they have any students of a similar ability or if they can recommend anyone to play a round with.

Scott Edwards is a member of the PGA Professionals team at Golf Saudi-managed Riyadh Golf Club

Main image: supplied