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Join the club: What you need to know if you're new to golf

George Wray is secretary of the Hidden Falls Country Club’s Men’s Golf Association in Meadowlakes. He has many tips for beginning golfers. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The benefits of playing golf far outnumber the frustrations that come with it, according to those who spend time on the links. After all, golf is a sport anyone of any age can play. It can cement relationships, deepen friendships, and land blockbuster deals. It’s also fun.

That’s certainly true for George Wray, secretary of Hidden Falls Country Club’s Men’s Golf Association in Meadowlakes. He teed off for the first time in 1969 on a Hawaiian golf course when he was stationed there in the Army. His group had a 6:30 a.m. tee time every day.

Over the years, Wray developed a step-by-step process to help beginners conquer a game that ultimately satisfies more than frustrates as players build their skills.

For most, the first step is to find the appropriate clubs. Golf shops help people determine which clubs fit them best based on the player’s height and weight. Comparison shop sporting goods and golf stores for the best prices on beginner sets. Once you know what size you need, you can usually find used clubs at a discount.

A normal golf set includes 14 clubs. In fact, tournament officials don’t allow golfers to have more than 14 in their bags, Wray said.

One club you can eliminate from the collection is the driver, he added.

“You can hit a lesser club and stay in the fairway,” Wray said.

Proper clothing is also important to the game. It’s not hard to find and doesn’t have to be expensive. Most clubs require men to wear collared shirts and shorts that are not cut off. Women can wear sleeveless blouses that are V-necks, collared, or both.

Spiked shoes are allowed, but the spikes must be plastic, not steel. Walking shoes or sneakers are also fine, Wray said.

“I like a cleatless shoe that’s rough on the bottom,” he said. “It’s easier for me to walk in.”

Players are advised to contact golf courses ahead of time to inquire about dress codes, which usually apply to children, too.

When it’s time to learn the game, beginners can always buy books that outline the basic rules. Instruction videos are also available for purchase or can be found free online. Wray noted the advantages of hiring an instructor, who can critique your stance, grip, and swing. Instructors can stop bad habits on the spot, giving tips on correct form.

“When you decide you’re really serious about it, there are a number of instructors who can teach you the game,” he said. “You can hire them on an hourly basis. That kind of instruction is helpful. They’ll show you how to get from one point to another.”

Rates for a round of golf and a cart vary from course to course. Discounted rates, called twilight fees, are available depending on the time of day people want to play. Most courses now have websites that quote fees and discounted rates. You can even reserve tee times online.

Golf has long been a sport of great passions and dedication, bringing out different emotions from players.

“I have played with folks who are very calm, I’ve played with folks who throw their clubs, who’ve thrown their ball in the pond,” Wray said. “It’s funny how some are real serious about their habits and superstitions.”

Wray loves the game so much he typically packs his clubs when he travels in the hopes of playing a local course wherever he goes. He played the Pebble Beach Golf Links, home of the 2019 U.S. Open, when it only cost $100. It now costs $500 to play.

He recalled a golfing trip to Hawaii with his wife, Patti, and other friends when each morning began with a round of golf and ended with a superb dinner.

“Couple’s golf is a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s a great game when your wife plays.”

The bond built between players, whether couples, business associates, friends, or family, could well be the most important aspect of the game.

Brody Herman warms up before the start of a golf camp at Hidden Falls Country Club. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro


For 12-year-old Brody Herman, a participant in the Hidden Falls junior golf camp and the son of Marble Falls High School head football coach Brian Herman, it’s an opportunity to spend quality time with his dad.

“I’ve played for awhile,” Brody said. “It’s fun. Me and my dad will go out and play. It’s a really fun game.”

He has already learned the simple truth of why so many people play want to learn.

“You don’t remember the bad shots,” he said. “You remember the good ones.”

Check out this list of Highland Lakes golf courses and find out why this area is a golfer's paradise.

Hidden Falls Country Clubs Men’s Golf Association in Meadowlakes meets each Wednesday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.. Cost to join is $25 a year plus an additional $5 each week they play. Men are teamed up with others of the same handicap or level of play.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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