Chances are, if you’re just starting out, you haven’t decided to apply to a fancy country club yet so you can play their outstanding course, right? That’s a very good idea, because there are probably several public golf courses close to you that are just as terrific and much cheaper too! Do you think Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson started out on private courses? I doubt it! Even though we can’t all have the status of a Woods or Mickelson, we can make sure that we don’t have an argument with our wallet every time we want to hit the course for some practice time on the driving range or to get in a leisurely round.
Of course, the first thing you want to check at a public golf course is the course itself. Find out how many holes it has ? some courses only have 9 and, to play a full 18 holes of golf, you just go around twice. Walk a few holes and take a look at the course. Check to see whether it appears well maintained. Are the greens plush and even? Is the rough bearable? Does it look like they regularly mend divot holes? There’s nothing more discouraging for a novice golfer than playing a course that ends up being too tough just because of poor maintenance. While poorly maintained courses can provide lots of entertainment value ? you know you look funny when you’re swinging away in a bunker ? they don’t provide as much “good” experience for a novice golfer as a well cared for course will.
That brings up another thing to check, the cost of a round. You’ll find some big differences in cost from course to course, and many public golf courses offer reduced rates at certain times of the day and during the off-season. For example, public golf courses in Phoenix, Arizona, known as the City of Golf, sometimes discount their rates by as much as 50 percent during the hot summer months.
Next, some extras can be really helpful to your game! Most beginners spend far too much time on the practice putting green and not nearly enough time on the driving range. Make sure the course you pick has an adequate driving range. It doesn’t matter if you can putt like a pro if it takes you six strokes to get onto the green at a par 3 hole. Along with the driving range and practice green, you might find a public golf course that has a chipping green or a practice bunker. These can all be great features to help you improve particular problem areas in your game. And that’s what it’s all about.
Finally, check out the clubhouse. No, I don’t mean discover whether the bartender is handsome or the waitress is cute. Learn whether the course has a pro shop, and whether a golf pro runs it. Ask about his or her qualifications ? most of us think of the words “golf pro” and immediately think PGA, but not all golf pros are registered with the PGA. For that matter, not all golf pros are particularly well qualified for teaching. Ask if lessons are offered or if a golf school is associated with the course. This can be a big selling point if you’re trying to improve your golf swing and just can’t figure out what’s wrong. And of course, find out the cost of the lessons.
The secret to finding a good public golf course is to shop around. Check out several courses in your area and don’t worry about whether they are listed in some Who’s Who of public courses. Just do your homework and pick the one that best suits your own needs. It will make for a much more enjoyable experience and might even lower your score!
And remember – a bad choice can get you the same results as Hank Aaron, the world-renowned baseball player who once said, “It took me 17 years to get 3,000 hits, but I did it in one afternoon on the golf course!”