New Golfers FAQs
What's the best way to start playing golf?
What about private lessons?
How long should it take a beginner to get out on the course?
Should I take a Level 1.0 or Level 2.0 class?
Where should I take my classes?
Where do we meet for class?
When should I arrive?
What should I wear? Do I need golf shoes? What about a golf glove?
I don't have equipment. Should I buy clubs prior to the class?
Where do I pay for my clinic/lesson?
It's raining where I am and class is in an hour. Should I still show up?
Course Telephone Numbers
Where can I practice?
What's the best way to start playing golf?
Sign up for a class! Small group instruction is usually best. Choose a class that focuses on the fundamentals: a good grip, set-up, posture, alignment, the short game and the full swing.
Classes are great if you are just learning the game or trying to improve your skills as an advanced player.
If you are in a rut or trying to break a bad habit, we recommend private lessons.
Your schedule and preference for how much attention you need will also play a part in your decision.
If you are brand new to the game or haven't played in a very long time, we recommend Level 1.0.
We recommend Level 2.0 if you have some experience and have played on the course.
There are occasions where we suggest players take Level 1.0 two times. If you miss one or two classes or
really struggle with some of the techniques, the second time can be a charm!
For the most part you should frequent the facility that is closest to your home or office; the one you can get to most easily.
There are classes offered at some of our facilities that are not offered at others. You can mix and match. For instance, take a short game class at Clifton Park and a full swing clinic at Pine Ridge.
Carroll Park -- Golf course pro shop
Clifton Park -- Golf course pro shop
Forest Park -- Starters booth next to the first tee
Mount Pleasant -- Golf course pro shop
• Full swing - driving range
• Short gam - putting green or chipping green
•Bunker - new practice area located next to the driving range
Plan on arriving at least 10 minutes prior to your class/clinic or lesson. You want to be warmed up and ready to go as well as mentally. Give yourself a few minutes to put your day behind you and get into the proper frame of mind. If it is a playing clinic/lesson, you may want to take a little more time to warm up, so arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your appointment.
Dress comfortably. We do not have a dress code at any of the BMGC courses but there are many golf facilities in our area that do. Get into the habit of checking prior to playing to avoid any issues with attire. As for golf shoes, they are helpful but you can play in flat soled athletic shoes. Wearing a golf glove on your lead hand (the one closest to the hole) will help with your grip, and really reduce the chance of getting blisters. Gloves usually cost between $15.00 and $20.00 and are probably a worthwhile investment prior to coming to class. Check the selection of golf shoes and gloves in our Pro Shops and take advantage of your BGA Student Discount.
We will lend you clubs for classes to help get you started. It is better to have at least some golfing experience before buying clubs. We will also give you a free standardized fitting to help make sure you get the proper fit when you do go to buy clubs. BGA students receive a discount on clubs! So be sure to check our pro shops before going elsewhere to purchase equipment.
Payments may be made online when you schedule your lesson or class, in the pro shop or at the driving range if you are at Pine Ridge. We accept: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and checks made payable to BMGC (Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp) Identification is required when paying by check.
Classes - Make Up Classes are not Guaranteed
We want to make sure you learn as much as possible during your group classes. If you must miss a class that is part of a series, we will do our best to fit you into another similar class. However, our classes fill quickly and we do not guarantee that there will be room for you in another class. Please check your schedule carefully before registering.
Private Lessons - We require a 24 hour notice of cancellation for private lessons. NO EXCEPTIONS. If we receive notice of cancellation less than 24 hours before your appointment, you will be responsible for payment for that lesson either as a loss of lesson from your series of lessons or as a separate charge. If you must cancel, please contact your professional as soon as possible or contact the golf course’s pro shop and leave a message with a staff member. Let them know your name, who your lesson is with and a number where you can be reached.
In the event of inclement weather, scheduled instruction may need to be rescheduled. If the weather looks threatening, we recommend you contact the golf course’s pro shop to check for cancellations. In addition, we will attempt to contact you via text, email or phone in the event of weather cancellation. Please make sure to provide up to date contact information when you register for instruction.
Clifton Park: 410-243-3500
Forest Park: 410-448-4653
Mount Pleasant: 410-254-5100
Pine Ridge: 410-252-1408
Head to the driving range at Pine Ridge to work on your form and swing mechanics, but don't ignore your short game. There are practice greens at all 5 BMGC courses and Clifton Park features a short game learning facility.
Rules and Etiquette
"This code of conduct is a big part of what makes golf the greatest game of all. True golfers help protect the game by observing golf etiquette. This is especially important for new golfers. If you're new to the game, you'll be a lot more comfortable on the golf course when you know what to do and how to behave." Arnold Palmer
Etiquette and Safety
The First Tee
• Always be on time and prepared to play.
• Choose the tee that best matches your ability.
• Always be aware of your safety and the safety of others.
• Safety - wait until the group ahead is out of range of your best shot.
• Safety - be sure you are well away from others before taking practice swings.
• Safety - stand on the same side as the ball when watching someone hit.
• Stay silent and still while others in your group are teeing off.
• Avoid taking divots with practice swings on the teeing ground.
Pace of Play
• Plan your shot while walking to your ball or while others are playing.
• Be ready to play when it is your turn to play, particularly on the putting green.
• Walk briskly between shots.
• Walk directly to your golf ball; don't follow other players to theirs unless assisting in a search.
• If riding, take several clubs with you to your ball so you won't have to walk back to the cart.
• Be efficient with pre-shot routines.
• Don't step off yardage for every single golf shot, develop an "eye" for distance.
• Take only one look at the line of play/putt from behind the ball.
• Take only one practice swing.
• Play a provisional ball if you think the original may be lost, outside a water hazard or out of bounds.
• Record scores on the next teeing ground while others are playing or right after you have played your next tee shot.
• Replace your divots or fill divots with soil/seed mixture, if available.
• Repair other golfer’s divots.
• Avoid taking divots with practice swings.
• Smooth footprints and irregularities in sand after playing from bunkers.
• Repair your ball mark and others on the putting green. Insert a repair tool or tee at the edges of the ball mark and bring the edges to the center. Do not lift the center of the ball mark. Try not to tear the grass.
• A repaired ball mark will heal in two to three days, an unrepaired ball mark will take three weeks to heal.
• Place golf bags well off the putting surface.
• Take care with flagsticks, when removing and replacing them in the hole and when placing them on the green.
• Mark your golf ball with a small coin or similar object.
• Stay off the line of putt of other players.
• Study your line of putt ahead of time and be ready to putt when it is your turn.
• Remove golf balls from the hole with your hand, not the head of your putter.
• On completion of the hole by all players in the group, repair damage to the putting green caused by spikes.
Golf Carts and Walking
• Always obey the "Rules of the Road."
• Check with the golf shop to see what cart rules are in effect for that day and follow all regulations.
• Have a sense of where you are on the golf course.
• You don't have a "right" to drive a cart over every area of the course, so estimate the yardage and select several golf clubs before walking to your ball.
• Be aware of the damage carts can cause.
• Keep the cart at least 30 yards away from a green or bunker and park in the direction of the next hole.
• If walking, leave your golf bag next to the green facing in the direction of the next hole.
Honesty and Integrity
• Play the course as you find it.
• Play the ball as it lies: When that is not possible do what is fair.
• Be responsible for applying the Rules of Golf.
• Treat others with respect.
Behavior and Manners
• Leave the course in better condition than you found it.
• Treat other players the way you would like to be treated.
• Before playing, check to be sure the way ahead is clear.
• No mulligans. Use the practice tee prior to the round. No mulligans.
• Golf is played best when emotions are under control.
• Pets and very young children are at risk on the golf course. It is not appropriate to take non-playing children or pets on a golf outing.
GOLF Magazine teamed with the USGA to produce "The Golden Rules of Golf." These 10 fundamental guidelines, which still hold today with slight modifications due to Rules changes, summarize most situations you are likely to encounter on the course. If you learn them well (and keep a Rules book in your bag in case something really weird happens), you'll be ready for anything.
I Play the ball as it lies.
II Don't move, bend, or break anything growing or fixed, except in fairly taking your stance or swing. Don't press anything down.
III You may lift natural objects not fixed or growing, except in a water hazard or bunker. (No penalty.)
IV You may move man-made objects even in a bunker or water hazard. If they are immovable, you may drop within one clublength of the nearest point of relief (unless your ball is in a water hazard), no nearer the hole. In a bunker, you must drop in the bunker. (No penalty.)
V Unless your ball is in a water hazard, you may drop away from casual water, ground under repair, or burrowing animal holes or their casts. On the putting green, place at the nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole; otherwise drop within one clublength of the nearest point of relief, except that in a bunker the ball must be dropped in the bunker. If complete relief is impossible within the bunker, drop in the bunker at the point of maximum available relief. (In each case, there is no penalty.)
VI In a water hazard or bunker, don't touch the water or ground with your hand or club before the stroke.
VII If you hit your ball into a water hazard and cannot play it, either drop behind the hazard or at the place you played the shot. (One penalty stroke.) If you hit into a lateral hazard you may also drop within two clublengths of the point where the ball last crossed the hazard margin, or a point equidistant from the hole on the opposite margin. (One penalty stroke.)
VIII When you hit your ball out of bounds or lose it, add a penalty stroke, go back and drop a ball at the place you played the shot. (On the tee, you may tee the ball.) If you think you have hit your ball out of bounds or lost it outside a water hazard, play a provisional ball before searching for the first one.
IX When you have an unplayable lie, you may drop a ball at the place where you played the previous shot, adding a penalty stroke. (On the tee, you may tee the ball.) Alternatively, drop within two clublengths, no nearer the hole, or any distance behind the unplayable spot, keeping it between you and the hole. If the ball is in a bunker, you must drop in the bunker, under either of the alternative options.
X On the putting green, you may repair ball marks and old hole plugs on the line of the putt, but not spike marks.
Ace - Hole in One
Ball Marker - A small token (sometimes a coin) designed to lay flat on the green to mark the position of your ball so you can pick up your ball when on the green and keep it from obstructing other players' shots.
Bogey - One shot over par on any given hole.
Birdie - One shot under par on any given hole.
BMGC - Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation. The non-profit organization that manages the golf courses within the city of Baltimore as well as Pine Ridge and the Baltimore Golf Academy.
Bunker -Trap which is put on course usually to catch errant shots but sometimes may be placed in the middle of a fairway. May be made of sand or grass.
Chip Shot - Shot taken from close proximity to the green. Similar to a putting stroke but executed with a lofted club.
Clubhouse - The building in which the pro shop, grill (aka the19th hole), and locker rooms are located. Usually the first and last stop of the day.
Divot - A chunk of earth removed by the club during a stroke. Best practice is to retrieve your divot and replace it, or fill the hole with sand/seed mix if provided. (It will be in a canister on your golf cart.)
Double Bogey - A score of 2 strokes over par on an individual hole.
Double Par - A score of twice the par listed for an individual hole. New golfers should strive for this on each hole. After reaching double par on a hole, it is better to pick up the ball and go to the next hole than to hold up play. As you improve your next goal is to shoot double bogey for each hole, then move up to bogey golf, and then par golf.
Early Bird - Golfers who Tee off very early in the morning. Sometimes "Early Birds" play just the back nine holes and are given a special rate.
Eagle - Two shots under par on any given hole.
Etiquette - Good manners in golf. Almost as important as the rules. Most important if you want to make friends on the golf course.
EWGA - Executive Women's Golf Association. A nationwide organization of women golfers.
Fairway - Smoothly mowed area of the course. Ideal place to play from!
Green - The putting surface, home to the cup and flag stick. The grass is cut very low and the surface is sometimes undulating causing your ball to make twists and turns on the way to the cup. This is where etiquette, finesse and imagination are paramount. ("Putt for dough, drive for show!")
Handicap - Handicap essentially signifies how many strokes above or below par a golfer should be able to play over a full round. The lower the number, the better the player.
Hazard - Areas on the golf course that you should avoid hitting to. (Bunkers, water hazards, natural hazards) Sometimes players are assessed a penalty stroke if they cannot play their ball from the hazard and have to gain relief from the hazard.
Hybrid - A utility club that is not an iron and not a wood but something in between. They are designed to be easy to hit from any surface.
Junior - Golfer under the age of 18.
Lightning - A sign from above that it is time to leave the golf course or practice area!
Match Play - A competition format in which the round is played with the goal of winning individual holes. Scoring is kept by comparing the holes won by each player.
Mulligan - A do-over shot. If you're following the rules, you won't be using mulligans. But if you are using mulligans, limit them to no more than one mulligan per nine holes. You should never hit a mulligan if players behind you are waiting - or if you want to later claim that you played by the rules. Mulligans are generally used by golfers who are just out practicing.
Out of Bounds - The boundary of a golf course is usually marked with white stakes or white boundary lines. If your ball lies outside of the boundary you receive a one stroke penalty and must replay the ball from where you originally hit it.
Par - The number of shots a very good player is expected to make on any given hole. Par is always comprised of two putts and the number of strokes it should take to reach the green.
Pitch Shot - A shot that is longer than a Chip Shot but not a full swing. Pitch Shots are usually taken from 100 yards and closer to the green.
Ready Golf - An essential way to speed up play on a busy course. Each golfer within a group hits when ready rather than strictly adhereing to the methods prescribed by Golf Rules and Etiquette.
Replay - An opportunity for golfers who complete 18 holes and want to play additional holes to do so. Usually Replays enjoy a discounted rate.
Scramble - A tournament format where you play as a team. The team decides which ball to play based upon whose shot was best, then everyone plays from that spot. This continues until the ball is holed out.
Snowman - A score of 8 on a hole.
Stroke - Each time you swing with the intention of hitting (or putting) your ball, it is considered a stroke.
Stroke Play - A competitive format in which the score is kept by adding the total number of strokes taken throughout the round.
Shotgun Start - A competitive format in which everyone starts playing at the exact same time as opposed to assigned tee times.
Tee Time - The time reserved in advance of play for a group to begin play at a golf course.
Twilight - A time of day dependent upon the actual time of sunset when green fees are usually lowered for golfers who are willing to play only as many holes as they can fit in before dark.
Worm Burner - A shot that never gets into the air and skims the ground, potentially injuring worms who may be near the surface. (topped shot, skulled shot) Whether you like worms or not, these shots are best avoided.
Last but not least!
19th Hole - The restaurant or bar associated with the club. Meeting place where golfers go when their round is completed to relax and enjoy friends.