Dubai: Golf can seem like an intimidating sport to get into. Many people still believe it is just a game for older rich men while the numerous rules and confusing lingo can scare prospective golfers off before they ever pick up a club. But no matter your age or gender, golf is accessible to all and has long moved on from its negative stereotypes.
There’s no denying that golf takes time to master and you certainly won’t begin with 18 holes on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t be smashing drives down the stunning 18th there someday.
With or without the knowledge or skills of the game, you can head down to the range at your local club, of which Dubai has many, and strike some balls or even pay a visit to the family-friendly Topgolf at Emirates Golf Club. This won’t break the bank and will cost around the same sort of money you’d spend on other leisurely activities such as hiring a tennis court or five-a-side football pitch for an hour.
I caught up with Jonathan Craddock, Dubai Golf PGA Professional, to find out his top tips for beginners looking to get into the game in the UAE:
Question: What are the benefits of taking up golf?
Answer: Golf is a game for all ages and abilities. The game perhaps hasn’t had the best history for being open to all, but these days it’s a completely different story - thanks to the work of the R&A and ISPS Handa to make sure opportunities are available to all to play the game. The really cool thing about the game is its depth to create competition between any gender, age or ability due to the fair handicap system.
It’s a game that is worth starting early as it is a game for life. The other benefit of learning early in life is the fact you’ll be ahead of the competition when you retire and have more time to play. The game also teaches quality lifeskills, with honesty and respect being two of many.
What equipment do you need when starting out?
Zero. All academies in the UAE have equipment that you can use during lessons or while you’re on the range. Golf has a reputation for being expensive but there are many ways you can keep the costs down including buying second hand clubs and looking out for special discounts on twilight rounds. Many residents in the UAE can also adhere free rounds with their credit card.
How should a beginner practice?
Just as you would with any new sport – start by taking small steps and expand on them once mastered. Unfortunately, far too many beginners try to take on the long drive champion on their first visit to the driving range! The best and simplest drills are ones that focus on balance and maintaining a centre in the swing while keeping your feet together. Understanding the centre of the movement will leave anyone in good standing to be able to replicate a consistent swing.
The best and simplest drills are ones that focus on balance and maintaining a centre in the swing while keeping your feet together. Understanding the centre of the movement will leave anyone in good standing to be able to replicate a consistent swing
What is your best tip for beginners?
The best thing I was ever told was to hit balls while not looking at the ball. Balance and correct movement are created as the hitting mentality is taken away. It’s inevitable to want to hit the ball yet we should try to create an arching movement with the body and club.
Where is the ideal place for a beginner to learn in the UAE?
All academies in the UAE have top-notch PGA professionals, who are perhaps some of the most qualified in the world for such a small area. That being said, our Peter Cowen Golf Academy at Emirates Golf Club is definitely the best and will take good care of you!
So, there you have it, golf isn’t as difficult to get into as some may have you believe.