If your vision of a golfer is someone who has a big belly, smokes a cigar, carries a beer can, and sits in a cart, you probably don’t equate golf with fitness. But studies have shown that golfers tend to live longer than non-golfers (probably because the exercise strengthens their hearts, the sunshine bolsters their bones, and the companionship staves off depression and anxiety). Walk 18 holes, and your tracker will tell you you’re on the road to weight loss as well. Here in Colorado, the golf season officially begins in spring. With the help of Denver’s director of golf, Scott Rethlake, we’ve put together this little guide to getting started—or maybe even getting a little better.
Newbies, take to heart Rethlake’s No. 1 tip: Get a lesson. He suggests a small-group program for adults called “Get Golf Ready,” designed to orient new players to the golf swing and the golf culture. Check out your local recreation district to see if it offers the program. Or have some fun at Topgolf in Centennial, where you can get friends together and schedule a lesson for six ($149 includes a drink and shared appetizer with the 60-minute schooling). If you’re leveling up, talk to your local course about one-on-one lessons, or try GOLFTEC, the Colorado-based, tried-and-true system for success that includes indoor lessons and video.
You don’t need a glove, golf shoes, or a bag of clubs to get started. Just lace up your tennis shoes and borrow a club (Rethlake recommends a 7-iron or an 8-iron) at the local driving range or wherever you’re taking lessons. When you’re golfing regularly and ready to make the commitment, get fitted for clubs that suit your swing. Most golf shops can do the job. For a high-tech, thorough fitting and customized clubs, try Club Champion in Highlands Ranch.
Newcomers, there’s no need to worry about dress codes unless you’re visiting a private club. Then, stuffy rules may apply. At municipal courses, jeans and sneakers are okay. At clubs, the rules are stricter: Men, make sure your shirt has a collar and your slacks or shorts are belted and hemmed. Ladies, no hot pants or yoga tights. Everyone, remember hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Of course, if you consider yourself a real golfer, you’re familiar with the racks and racks of stylish clothes at the PGA Tour Superstore in Greenwood Village, with a second location opening this month in Westminster; it has the biggest selection in town.
Beginners, start with Denver’s little par-3, Harvard Gulch, or any of the area’s mulligan-friendly nine-hole courses. If you’re ready to go the next step, schedule a tee time at Golden’s nationally acclaimed Fossil Trace—or any of many other championship courses in the region. And remember these final bits of advice from Rethlake: “Have fun. Don’t ever forget that it’s a game. And don’t compare yourself to the people on TV.”