10 Ways to Have More Fun on the Golf Course
Golf takes a lot of skill—but it can also be lots of fun! Here are a few suggestions for actually enjoying your day out on the course.
How many times have you vowed to quit the game of golf? Or maybe you ruined a perfectly pleasant day with a fit of anger during a round of golf. We’ve all been there. Likely more than once, and probably several times in the same round of golf.
But the game of golf can be an enjoyable experience for anyone, regardless of ability level! Understanding how to modify the game to meet your needs is key to maximizing fun on the course.
Here are some ideas about how to have more fun playing golf.
1. Play Forward
Most people who play golf recreationally (yes, that’s probably you reading this!) play from tees that set the golf course up to be too long. Set that ego aside and play from the next set of forward tees. Most courses will have at least three sets of tees, and define these as the men’s, seniors’, and ladies’ tees. However, those terms are outdated and gendered for no reason! The tees are placed at different distances for different skill levels.
Choosing to play forward will make the course shorter and easier. It will be easier because you will have shorter clubs into the green, leading to closer shots, more made putts, and lower scores. Who doesn’t have more fun when shooting lower scores?!
If your course doesn’t have a set of tees that meets your skill level, you can create your own. Play from the beginning edge of the fairway or the 200 yard marker on par 4s and 5s. This is a great way for kids to start playing the game too.
What if the only way you’ll enjoy golf is if you shoot lower scores? If that’s the case, you’ll need to practice. A lot. Golf is not an easy sport—it requires an incredible amount of athletic skill to strike the ball well and control the direction and distance it travels. This takes repetition and patience.
Realistically, most of us who play golf don’t have 10 hours to dedicate to practice. We can find maybe one or two hours each week. But with planning and intentionality, you can gain a lot from a couple hours of practice a week. A great place to start is your short game, which is chipping and putting, and tee shots. These two areas are the biggest place we lose strokes as amature golfers.
3. Take Lessons
Even tour players have swing coaches! A series of lessons with your local golf professional has multiple benefits. First, you can get a better deal on a lesson package compared to a single lesson. And secondly, what you learn in each lesson will accumulate week to week as you practice what you learn and build upon it.
4. Manage Expectations
You don’t have time to practice—or don’t want to? That’s okay, you can still enjoy this great game! Although with little to no practice, you can’t expect to improve much from one round to the next.
Before you start your round, remind yourself that you’re there to have fun with your friends. You’re likely to hit great shots and poor ones, too. Prepare yourself for both. Plan how you want to respond. Humor is a great way to shrug off a poor shot. Give a shrug and think or say, “Ha! Don’t know where that came from! I can do better than that!” Everyone hits bad shots, even professional golfers—a quick YouTube search will show you that!
Golf is just a game. There’s no sense in letting it ruin your day.
5. Make it Competitive
Many folks who play golf are competitive, and adding an element of competition to the day’s round of golf is another way to make it more fun. The great thing about golf is there is a built in system to make the game easy to compete with anyone, regardless of skill level. If you know your handicap, a numerical measure of your ability, you can use this to adjust your score at the end of the round. This system brings golfers of all abilities to a relative level playing field. For example, if Riley is an 15 handicap and shoots 95, their score would then become net 80. And if Jamie’s handicap is 3 and they shoot 78, their net score is 75.
Money games are also popular on the golf course. Just know that if you play for money, you do give up your amature status. No need to worry about this unless you plan to play in state or USGA amature events.
Many money games are complicated and hard to follow as you’re first learning them. To make sure everyone has fun—keep it simple! Everyone can chip in $5, and the lowest round gets the pot of money. Or try a skins game. In this game you set a dollar value for each hole. For average folks like most of us, a quarter to a dollar a hole is plenty. Whoever gets the lowest score on the hole wins the money for that hole, called the skin. If two people make a 4 on the hole, then the skin gets added to the next hole. As you may realize, that 25 cents to a dollar can add up to be much more over the course of a round! It certainly makes each hole exciting, especially when it’s been a few holes since a skin was won!
6. Play a Different Way
Many golf courses offer men’s, ladies’, and couples leagues. Some good golf may be played, but these are mostly about having fun! In couples leagues various formats, like scramble and alternate shot, are used.
A scramble is a great way to have fun on the course with golfers of all abilities. In this format, everyone hits their tee shot, then the group picks the best one and everyone plays the next shot from there. You continue this process until the ball is holed.
The scramble format is the most common for fundraiser outings, which are another great way to have fun on the course. Fundraiser outings often have hole prizes for longest drive, closest to the pin, and even large prizes (like a car!) for a hole-in-one. These events are much more laid back. You can enjoy an adult beverage while you play and socialize more during a scramble outing. Always be responsible when drinking on the golf course, and remember to designate a driver for the ride home, or call a ride share.
7. Play Different Courses
There’s a unique comfort to playing the same golf course over and over. This may be your local public course or country club. You know this course forward and backward, and likely hit your shots in nearly the same place every round. That’s a sure sign it’s time to mix it up!
Is there more than one country club in your city? Find a friend who is a member at another club and ask to be their guest. Or grab a few friends and try out a public course in your area that you haven’t played. It’s a lot of fun to see different golf courses and how the designs differ from course to course.
8. Take a Golf Trip
A golf trip takes playing new courses to the next level. You can find package deals with resorts for a golf vacation or, if you like a bit more control, pick your destination and create your own golf trip. If you’re traveling to a popular destination like Hilton Head, S.C., or Las Vegas, make sure you plan far enough in advance. You’ll want to make tee times with the courses you plan to play as far in advance as the course will let you. This typically ranges from a week to 10 days in advance.
A round or two of golf could even be incorporated into a work trip. You can pack your own clubs or rent a set from the golf course. Playing golf in new cities and towns is a great way to see more of the community, meet new people, and contribute to the local economy.
9. Make It a Family Affair
The game of golf can be a family affair too. Many golf courses and/or driving ranges offer kids’ clinics, which are a great way to introduce your children to the game. And as mentioned above, couples leagues are a great way to enjoy a date night on the golf course, too.
A word of advice, if your spouse or significant other is new to the game, invest in a few lessons from your local golf professional. It will be best for everyone—they will get quality instruction, and you won’t get kicked to the couch for a week!
10. Mixed Bag
It’s becoming more and more popular to take a bluetooth speaker on the golf course to play music while playing. If everyone in your group is on board with this, jam away! Do keep in mind that others on the course will be able to hear your music as well. Keep the volume low so not to distract golfers while they swing.
Another fun idea is to play a par 3 course with only one club and a putter. Or challenge a buddy to play a round with no driver and see how you play. (Hint: It will probably surprise you how well you DO play!)
Golf often gets the reputation as being an uptight and stuffy sport. And sure, sometimes it can be, but with a little creativity and respect for the course, and those you share it with, you can create a truly fun experience tailored to you and your group.