Find your nearest golf course or find clubs within your area in order to assess conditions and wait times.

How to Choose a Golf Course

December 23rd, 2013

Golf is a complex and rewarding game with a rich history full of tradition and culture. It requires a significant investment of time and energy on the part of the player. Selecting the right equipment and taking lessons are important steps to success at the game, as is choosing the right golf course. Depending on your location, there are often multiple options about which golf club you should join.

Factors that may affect your decision about which course to sign up for include:

• Proximity to home or work
• Price and the amount of ongoing or additional fees
• Conditions – whether the course is well maintained and has recently been aerated
• Layout
• Par level
• Prestige
• Popularity
• Familiarity

Beginners may want to start off on a course that is shorter in length and less expensive to play, while intermediate players will need more challenging layouts with better kept greens and fairways. They should know the rules and be able to complete a round in a reasonable amount of time. Players at this level often seek demanding courses that will test their playing ability and skillset, with hazards such as water and sand traps to make the course more interesting.

There are 3 main types of golf course; regulation, par 3 and executive. These categories refer to the length, number of holes and difficult level. You will need to assess your own golfing ability and decide which is most suitable for you. Ask yourself how much you intend to play. As a beginner you may intimidated at the thought of playing a full regulated 18 hole course, however you can have the option of playing halfway and simply finishing after 9 holes. A regulation course will usually have a mix of 3, 4 and 5 par holes, with some exceeding 550 yards each. It can be a challenging course for a beginner.

Par 3 courses can have 9 or 18 holes, but will only be set at this difficulty level. The time it takes to play a full regulation course is often over 9, but a par 3 course can be played under 2. Playing times are obviously affected by course conditions, weather and how busy the course is at the time of play.

The executive course is usually relatively small. The holes are a mix of multiple par 3s, a couple of par 4s and possibly one par 5. It is designed for a quick round of golf by the “executive” on a break. This means it is usually completed in under 2 hours.

Once you have decided what type of course is most suited to your playing ability you also need to choose if you want to join a public or private golf course. The variety of options you have available will be affected by the location you are looking in, but the majority of areas have at least one local public golf course and one privately owned course.

Public courses are often owned by the local council or municipality. Their budget is usually set by the local council or an elected committee and revenue is generated by “green fees” paid by the public wishing to use the course. Tee times are usually open to everyone, but certain slots may be reserved for club leagues or local groups that play regularly at a specified time. Some public courses have membership fees that allows those who pay an annual fee to have unlimited access to the course. In addition to this, members from the local area also usually pay a reduced membership fee as their taxes have already contributed towards the clubs upkeep.

Private courses can be more elitist as they are owned and operated by an individual or group. They can then determine who, what, when and where members can join and play on their course. The management team also control the membership fees and restrictions. Private clubs are often seen as institutions that are valued and sometimes jealously guarded by their members, as they present valuable social opportunities. They usually wish to preserve certain traditions and to enjoy the company of like-minded individuals both out on the fairway and in the clubhouse. Lifelong friendships are formed, and many groups travel together for golf and related social occasions. For these reasons, prospective member usually need to be introduced by existing members of some social standing. They will need to assure fellow members that the newcomer is suitable and will “fit in” with the club. Acceptance as a member of a private club can be determined after a candidate has been through a lengthy sponsorship program where he or she is vetted by existing members. Whilst this may seem quite daunting and unfair to a non-member, it works both ways, in as much as a substantial investment is often required in both time and money to gain a club membership. The annual fee at many high end golf clubs may be thousands of pounds, with the initial joining fee often being a higher figure. There can also be extensive waiting lists and sign up periods before you gain full membership benefits. For some, being part of a prestigious private golf club is a stepping stone in society. For others it is simply the price of doing business, as many corporate deals are deliberated over a round of golf.

The main advantage of joining a private club is the high quality of the golf course, as well as the assurance you will be very well treated whenever you wish to visit and play. Private courses can also usually offer faster play, especially on the weekends when public fairways are extremely busy.

When choosing a course, it is likely that your lifestyle and circle of golfing friends will influence your decision. Websites can give you information about a course but will not offer a good insight in the same way that visiting the club and grounds will. Contact clubs in your local area and ask about the joining process. Ascertain if it is possible to play golf as a green fee player. If this is allowed, it is a simple matter of visiting the course and assess its suitability for your need. Access to the clubhouse is sometimes included, which will give you an invaluable opportunity to speak to existing members. Try to strike up a conversation with members. Perhaps they will introduce you to others or offer to play a round with you. Where unaccompanied visitors are not accepted, there may be an option whereby a “managers introduction” can be provided, particularly where memberships are available. In other cases it may be necessary to find a member who is willing to invite you as their guest.

Regardless of the player’s skill level, golfers should look for courses that are conveniently located and fit their style of play. Golfers should avoid courses that are in poor condition, because playing on bad fairways and greens will not improve their game. Organise your priorities and what you want from your club. Categories features into what’s absolutely necessary, what is desirable and what you can happily live without? This will give you some perspective when you evaluate each club’s facilities. When you visit a club as a prospective member, you need to assess how the staff treat existing players and if they are friendly and welcoming. Check if there are enough staff on hand to greet people and offer assistance, if not it could be an indication of understaffing due to poor finances. Would you feel comfortable playing on the course, as well as socialising at the clubhouse? Ensure that the facilities are well maintained and that they are sufficient to meet your requirements. Is there an equipment store as part of the club house? The prices and quality of products available is a good indication of the calibre of the club and its reputation. What are the options for refreshments or dining with friends? Some clubs have low key bar snacks whereas more prestigious establishments will have restaurants and fine dining areas. Some more expensive clubs are often part of a hotel complex and may have additional benefits, such as use of the pool or spa. Ask about the golf restrictions on days or times when you can play. Is there a league or extra facilities for beginners, such as coaching or lessons from an expert. Does the course have a practice range with convenient hours, a putting green, pitching area and bunkers out of which you can practice? Is this included in your membership or does it require extra fees.

Before becoming a member of any course, be sure to visit the club and play the course at least once. Be realistic about what you can afford in terms of time and money. This will give you a close-up view and help you make an informed decision. Remember as a beginner, you can always grow into the next level. View My Fairway can help you research your local golf courses and give you helpful information about each club’s facilities. You can also check how busy each green is by viewing the fairway cameras.

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Monday, December 23rd, 2013 Uncategorized No Comments

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