Three Oklahoma PGA golf professionals have similar responses when asked for their best advice in learning to play golf: find a good teacher and take some lessons first.
“If you don’t, things will be harder to correct when you do take lessons,” says Tim Fleming, head pro at Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club.
Jeff Jarrett, general manager of Cherokee Hills Golf Club in Tulsa, put it this way: “To get started, the first thing I would recommend is to find a good teacher. Golf is a difficult sport, but starting with lessons is essential to being successful.” Jarrett places high importance on learning “the small nuances of how to play. Get comfortable before taking it to the golf course.”
Dee Roadman, golf director and teaching pro at Broken Arrow’s Battle Creek Golf Club, says novice golfers will be served best by learning the game the correct way.
“It will save you a lot of headaches,” he says. “You have a good idea of how to hit each shot.”
Fleming recommends borrowing some clubs initially until a pro can fit you properly to maximize your ability.
“Your pro can keep you from buying clubs you don’t need,” he says.
Jarrett and Roadman recommend starting out with a beginner’s set of clubs and not spending a lot of money on them until you decide to stick with the game. A putter, wedge, 7-iron, hybrid club and 3-wood or driver are all that are needed at first, says Roadman, who suggests used clubs to start.
Fleming says it’s integral for new golfers to “make sure you get the right club that’s suited to your game.”
Re: Dress code, Jarrett says that golfers should check the course’s website. Cherokee Hills requires collared shirts for men, and denim is taboo. Most courses require players to wear shoes with soft spikes, rather than metal spikes.
All Things Etiquette
You’re likely excited about your first round of golf at a course, but it’s best to be aware of a few generally accepted rules for proper golf course behavior. In addition, the course may have some special regulations, so it’s always best to check the scorecard before starting out. These rules are compiled from a variety of sources, and are listed in no particular order of importance:
Repair ball marks on the green (use a repair tool or the pointed end of a tee) and replace divots in the fairway.
Maintain a decent pace, and allow faster players to play through.
Avoid using your cell phone during a round. Best to leave it in the car, but if you must have it, put the ringer on silent.
On the green, do not move, talk or practice your putting stroke while another player is putting. Stay out of the other player’s line of vision, and avoid standing directly behind the player putting.
On the green, do not walk between the cup and another player’s ball.
Know where other groups are – particularly groups ahead of you – and shout “fore” if a ball you strike is headed toward another player or group.
Take no more than three minutes to hunt for a lost ball. If you can’t locate your ball in that time, drop another ball and take a one-stroke penalty.
Never talk while another player is hitting or putting.
If using a golf cart, observe the local course’s rules regarding their use.
Control your temper at all times, regardless of your degree of frustration.
Tips from the Pros
Short game … grip … stance … putting … These are the things Oklahoma golf professionals recommend addressing in order to bring those scores down.
It starts with the grip, says Jarrett.
“The key component to hitting a shot is holding onto the club correctly,” he says. Regardless of which grip (interlocking, overlapping or 10-finger) the player prefers, he says it must be done correctly. Stance is also important. Correct foot placement is roughly shoulder width – “wide enough so an Oklahoma wind doesn’t knock you over,” he says.
Fleming recommends “working from the green backwards,” concentrating first on putts, then shots from 25 yards in, then longer shots.
“Hitting balls on the driving range is more fun, but people don’t spend enough time on the short game,” says Roadman.
It will all be worth it, concludes Jarrett, with your first successful strike.
“One [you] hit that first excellent golf shot,” he says, “you’re hooked, totally.”
Terms to Know
Following are some of the basic terms a golfer should know, compiled from a variety of sources:
Ace (hole-in-one) – When a tee shot winds up in the cup
Hole (cup) – A round, 4.25-inch-diameter opening in the green. Also the piece of landscape on which the game is played, from tee to green.
Albatross (double eagle) – Three strokes under par on a single hole; derived because like the legendary bird, it’s something quite rare
Birdie – One stroke under par on a single hole
Bogey – One stroke over par on a single hole
Bunker (sand trap) – A devilishly-conceived, sunken area next to a green or fairway, filled not with pretty grass, but with sand
Eagle – Two strokes under par on a single hole
Fairway – Clipped grass, designating the desired path from tee to green
Flagstick – A tall, thin pole with a small flag attached, that locates the hole
Fried Egg – The effect when a golfball lands in the middle of a bunker, leaving the player with a mess
Green – The closely-cut grass surface extending outward from the hole
Hook, slice, shank – The sad result when the golfer’s club fails to make ideal contact with the golfball; slices go one way, hooks and shanks go the opposite way, and none of them are pretty.
Mulligan – Not allowed in competition, it’s a “do-over” on the first tee, after the initial drive lands in the parking lot or elsewhere
Par – The ideal number of strokes required to put the ball in the hole or to complete the golf course
Rough – Grass on either side of the fairway, allowed to grow longer; avoid it and life will be easier.
Snowman – A score of 8 on any hole, regardless of par – guaranteed to leave you cold
Origins of the Sport
Although stories vary, the Scots likely were the first people to think slapping a small sphere with a stick, chasing it, then whacking it again was a cool idea. Evidence of ball-and-stick games trace to the 1200s, but the Scots are credited with inventing a game roughly akin to modern-day golf in the 1500s. The name likely derived from the Dutch words kolf or kolve, meaning “club.”
The Scottish king banned golf briefly because he thought it distracted from archery and militarism, but it survived and began growing in popularity by the 19th century. Early versions of the game appeared in upstate New York in the 1600s, and soon expanded to the Carolinas and Georgia. Ship manifests from that time show quantities of golf clubs and balls being shipped from Europe to the United States.
Popularity died down around the War of 1812, but resurged again in America in the 1880s. The United States Golf Association was established in 1984, and a year later, the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amateur, and the U.S. Women’s Amateur golf tournaments were first contested.
Gearing Up for the PGA
Political discord in Washington, D.C. produced good news for Tulsa earlier this year when the PGA of America awarded the 2022 PGA Championship to Southern Hills Country Club. Southern Hills had already been picked to host the 2030 PGA Championship, so PGA officials moved the date up eight years, to May 27-30, 2022.
The switch came about when PGA pulled its 2022 Championship out of a golf club in New Jersey that’s owned by former U.S. President Donald Trump, following his impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives. The 2022 tournament will be Southern Hills’s fifth PGA Championship and eighth major golf tournament.
According to published reports, the move made sense because Southern Hills was already hosting a PGA event – this year’s Senior PGA Championship, held in May. A PGA of America planning team was in Tulsa preparing for the Senior event, using an operations blueprint that officials felt could be updated for the 2022 tournament.
“We’re excited to be able to host it,” says Nick Sidorakis, Southern Hills’ general manager. “It’s a great opportunity for the club, the city of Tulsa and the state.”
Sidorakis says that arrangements for the 2022 PGA Championship are progressing nicely. Harsh winter weather in February necessitated placing sod in areas that were affected by the extreme cold, but overall, the club is handling planning for back-to-back major championships quite well, and the PGA is doing “a great job” assisting Southern Hills. Sidorakis says an announcement about the sale of corporate packages and tickets, as well as public tickets, will be made soon.
With the PGA Championship, says Sidorakis, “We’ve got an opportunity to really make a statement in showcasing Southern Hills, Oklahoma and Tulsa.”
Golf Course Listing
Battle Creek Golf Club
Golf Club of Edmond
*Oak Tree Country Club
*Oak Tree National
*River Oaks Golf Club
Tour 18 at Rose Creek
Hidden Creek Family Golf
James E. Stewart
*Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club
Canyons at Blackjack Ridge
*Oaks Country Club
*Tulsa Country Club
* = Private course
Mini Golf Listing
JJ’s Golf Center
All Star Sports Complex