You’re new to the game of golf and you want to be prepared for your time on the course. You want to put yourself in the best position possible to enjoy the sport and to improve your game.
You may be asking yourself: “What are the golf essentials for beginners?”
If you walk through a sports store, especially a big box store, you’re certain to find a well-stocked golf section. As you peruse the section, you may become overwhelmed with the number of items, equipment, and trinkets available. According to each product manufacturer, you NEED their item to play your best golf.
My response: That’s BS! (box store, what else would it stand for?)
You don’t need all of those things to enjoy the game and improve your skill level.
In fact, some of that stuff is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
Here are the ten golf essentials that beginners should have with them for an enjoyable and productive round of golf.
As I considered what should be on this list, I took three areas into consideration: comfort, speed of play, and safety/sustainability.
Comfortable Footwear (Socks and Shoes)
A good pair of golf shoes is a worthy investment for the beginner golfer. Skimping on your golf shoes can be a very unpleasant experience.
My general rule of thumb is this: If I am playing 9 holes, I’ll walk and if I’m playing 18 holes, I’ll ride a cart. You should take the same approach so you can cash in on the health benefits of golf.
If I am walking 9 holes, I need a pair of golf shoes that are first, comfortable and second, provide grip.
If I’m playing an 18-hole round of golf, the round can last at least 4 hours. Less walking but more time in golf shoes. So, I need a pair of golf shoes that are first, comfortable and second, provide grip.
Regardless if I am walking or riding, I need a good, comfortable, functional pair of golf shoes. I don’t need blisters, nor do I need any more foot pain than I already experience. I’ll go so far as to say, I’d rather wear a pair of sneakers than a cheap pair of golf shoes.
I may not have the grip to stabilize my aggressive golf swing, but I’ll have the comfort and my feet won’t experience any additional pain or discomfort after the round.
As for socks, a moisture wicking material may be best. And be sure that your socks extend above the golf shoe. Socks that are lower than the tops may lead to chaffing and blisters on the achilles area.
A good golf shoe on a limited budget may run you anywhere between $80 – $120. Just remember, this purchase is one of the most important ones you’ll make. Don’t be too frugal.
There is a reason this is the first piece of golf equipment on the list; it is a golf essential!
Although wearing a golf glove is not a requirement for golfing, it is a golf essential. \
First, it offers additional grip on the golf club in the “pulling” hand (left hand for a right-handed golfer and the right hand for a left-handed golfer). The extra grip that the glove provides is helpful when moisture is present from perspiration or rain.
Second, the extra grip is handy when the grip on the golf club shaft may be worn slightly.
Let’s face it, a beginner golfer likely has a second hand set of golf clubs with grips that may be showing some wear. In that’s your situation, a golf glove is a must-have.
Last, the glove may protect the hand and skin from blisters and calluses. Especially for the beginner golfer whose hands may not yet be conditioned from the repetitive use.
A sufficient golf glove can be obtained for as little as $15, and we have a full write-up on how to clean golf gloves so you can maximize that investment.
GPS Distance Device
You may be wondering why this is a must have for beginners.
I have been a casual golfer for years. In the summer, I get out on the course once or twice a week. I didn’t have an electronic distance device until 2 years ago.
Now, I use my golf GPS every time I’m out on the course, even when I play my local par 3. Being able to determine yardage is essential to improving my swing and play. The GPS gives me accurate data that I can then use when trying to improve my approach from various distances.
- Lightweight and affordable
- Offers distance readings even if you don't have a line of sight on the green
- Can't give distance to hazards or obstacles
- Can't measure distance at the driving range
For me, the GPS is a golf essential. You can find a good golf GPS for around $100.
Ball Mark Repair Tool
There is NOTHING more irritating to me on the golf course than approaching a green and finding unrepaired ball marks.
Golfers have a responsibility to be good stewards of the grounds we walk and play on. If someone doesn’t fix their ball marks on the green, it communicates that they don’t appreciate and value the beauty of the course. I’ve seen greens on public courses decimated after a scramble tournament because golfers (that’s a generous term) don’t fix their marks.
If you’re not sure how to fix a ball mark, the video below will help.
On private courses, and even well-maintained municipal courses, the members expect each other to repair ball marks. So, go get yourself a durable ball mark repair tool and be a good steward and good example to those you play with.
A sturdy ball mark repair tool can cost anywhere between $6 and $12. With the example below, you can support your favorite NFL team and your local greenskeeper.
When you are playing a round of golf with others, chances are that your ball may be in the putting line of another player and you’ll be asked to “mark your ball.”
A ball marker is a small, thin disk placed behind your ball to mark its location while on the green. Once the ball is marked, you may pick it up so that it is no longer in the line of someone else’s putt. Once the putt is made and it is your turn to putt, you return the ball to the marked location and proceed with your stroke.
Having a ball marker readily available speeds up play. The second most frustrating thing to me is when someone needs to mark their ball, but they don’t have a ball mark on them. This slows play down as they rummage through their bag trying to find something useful. In addition, the absence of a readily available ball mark demonstrates a lack of awareness on the course.
A ball marker doesn’t even need to cost you anything. I use a dime and I carry a couple of dimes in my bag with me. Before my round of golf starts, I make sure my ball marker and my ball mark repair tool are in my pocket.
A reliable ball marker can be the least expensive of all the golf equipment you have, running the golfer a whopping $0.10.
No matter how good of a golfer you are or how much of a hacker you are, your golf clubs will get dirty. There are at least two benefits to having clean clubs.
First, from a technical perspective, you’ll want to clean the club face so that the grooves of the club function as designed. The grooves on a club provide spin, which affects flight and control. If the grooves are plugged with dirt and mud, the spin rate and control are compromised.
The second reason is perspective. If your clubs are muddy and unkempt, you’ll look like a hacker for sure. I’m not saying that clean clubs are going to make you any less of a hacker, but at least clean clubs will help you blend in.
When looking for a golf towel, try to find one that has a clip to fasten to the outside of your golf bag, is absorbent, and is machine washable.
The Frogger Golf Towel stays wet on the inside (where you clean your clubs) and dry on the outside (so you can dry them off). Carabiner clip included for easy attachment to your bag.
The towel is one of many golf bag essentials.
You can purchase a good quality towel for around $16.
Raincoat or a Pull Over
I grew up in Connecticut and have resided in Michigan, New York State and Northeast Pennsylvania. This saying applies in all these locations, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait, it will change.”
Or maybe you’ve seen a meme like this on Facebook:
No doubt, the weather can really be like this. So, that’s why you must be prepared for any kind of weather when on the practice green or on the golf course.
A rain jacket and a pull-over are a must have in your golf bag as part of your golf gear. Really, there is almost nothing worse on the golf course than being caught in the rain on a chilly day without a raincoat. Or not having a pullover when the sun goes down or the wind picks up in the spring or fall.
A raincoat or pullover may cost you nothing. Especially, if you can take your dad’s like my kids have done.
Contrary to what my wife thinks, the older I get the more aware I become.
When I was younger, long periods of sun meant a great tan; sunscreen wasn’t a necessity or concern. But as we have learned, exposure to the sun for long periods of time can be unhealthy and detrimental.
An SI.com article reminds us that recreational golfers are at a high risk of developing skin cancer because they receive 3.5 to 5.4 times the amount of UV radiation exposure needed to cause a sunburn.
Now, sunscreen is a must have. It would be advantageous to apply sunscreen prior to the start of your golf game as well as carrying a small bottle or tube with you in your golf bag.
Important note: Do not apply sunscreen on the greens. Grass + sunscreen = dead grass.
As a golfer, I spend a LOT of time either in the woods or on the edge of the woods looking for my wayward golf ball. I spend so much time in the woods chasing my own golf ball that I usually retrieve several balls while there.
I often judge how productive my journey into the woods is in dollar signs. If I come out of the woods with several Titleist Pro V1s, then it was a lucrative day for me. Sometimes, the value of golf balls is greater than the cost to play golf that day.
I am not adversely affected by bug bites; I don’t swell, nor do I get super itchy or break out in rashes or hives. But that is not everyone’s experience. A bug bit can make some people absolutely miserable. And at the very least, it’s smart to protect ourselves from tick bites and Lyme Disease.
To shield yourself from insects and bugs, insect repellent is a must-have that should be included in your bag.
I think many golfers would wholeheartedly agree with me if I said, “golfers must drink when they play golf.” That’s why there are “shacks,” cart girls and the 19th hole at the golf club. But I’m not talking about that kind of drinking.
At one point in my life, I carried more 12oz cans of beer in my bag than clubs. One time, when younger, I was checking in at the clubhouse of a par 3 course, only to come out to a small stream of water flowing from my bag from all the ice I used to chill my favorite golfing beverage.
But I’m not talking about drinks of barley and hops, I’m talking about H2O.
According to Harvard Health, “The daily four-to-six cup rule is for generally healthy people. Some people with health conditions may need to be cautious about too much water intake. A general rule of thumb for healthy people is to drink two to three cups of water per hour, or more if you’re sweating heavily.”
Enjoy your favorite golf drinks, but make sure you stay hydrated, especially in warmer weather and bring a water bottle with you on the course.
There is other golf equipment that may help improve your golf game, but this list contains the golf essentials for beginners.
Some Additional Questions
Do I need to purchase expensive golf gloves?
No, less expensive golf gloves will perform well for most golfers. However, a less expensive pair of golf gloves may not last as long as more expensive gloves.
Are new golf balls essential to have?
NO! New golf balls are not essential to have, but if a golf ball has a noticeable chip or scratch, that mark can influence ball flight.
Read up on used vs new golf balls.
Should I buy a golf ball retriever?
Oh my, no! If you have a golf ball retriever it tells me that one of two possible things.
First, you plan to hit your ball in the water. Second, you are going to spend more time retrieving balls from the pond than keeping up with play.
Do I need to buy new golf clubs?
No, try to find a good used set of golf clubs first. Then, as you increase in your skill level, do your research and invest accordingly. Your used set of clubs should include a driver, 3 wood, hybrid club or rescue club, 5 iron to a 9 iron, pitching wedge, sand wedge, and putter.
Are golf tees a golf bag essential?
Golf tees are not a golf bag essential as some courses provide them for free and you can often find tees on the ground.
However, they are a relatively inexpensive purchase, so it makes sense to pick up a bag to be 100% prepared for your round.