By METTE PEDERSEN

MARIETTA, Ga. — Golf is fascinating and exciting, yet very frustrating and can bring the worst out of everybody—but with practice, that can change. Golf will challenge your patience. You will get heated. But when you get hooked, you can’t get enough.

A lot of people say golf is a love/hate game, because it can be a very rewarding personal experience. You can always improve and develop your game; yet, it is also one of the most maddening games to play, because you only have yourself to blame. You don’t rely on a team to perform, it’s all on you.

Cobb County has many golf facilities and teaching professionals that can help you get started and teach you how to play golf.

Kyle Verner, former teaching professional at Marietta Golf Center, said golf is one of those games that you can never master completely.

“Not even the professionals on the PGA Tour or the biggest golf legends in the history ever mastered the game,” Verner said.

That is also one of the reasons why many people get so hooked on golf — it is a form of personal development that can always be improved, and you get to be outside in the nature for hours.

As a former teaching professional, Verner said that the most important thing to understand when starting to play golf is that “golf is a unique sport.” You need to get a basic understanding of how the golf swing works. Verner’s best advice for new golfers is to take a lesson with a professional instructor in order to learn the basics of the golf swing and to get a more successful experience with golf at first, because golf is not that simple of a game.

“Golf is a game of opposites,” Verner said. “For example, if you want the ball to go up, you hit down. A lot of new golfers make the mistake to try to help the ball get up in the air.”

Another piece of advice from Verner that he said he sees way too often is golfers focusing too much on the score and handicap.

“Forget about the score when starting to play golf,” Verner said. “Don’t get caught up with score too soon, just go out and have fun and the score will come.”

According to a study by the National Golf Foundation, 90 percent of golfers who play more than eight rounds of golf per year say they are passionate about golf.

One reason for this fascination about golf goes along with what Verner said, that you can never master the game; yet, golfers still attempt to do so.

One way to measure your improvements is with a handicap. A handicap is a number that indicates the skill level of a golfer, but also a system that allow you to play against golfers with different abilities in a fair and equal match-up, as it determines how many shots in addition to the course par, your ideal score should be.

Golfers with different abilities and levels can play together and have an equal and fair match, which also adds a competitive element to the game, because each golfer plays with their handicap. Everybody has a different ideal score, which they try to beat in order to lower and improve their handicap. The main goal is to decrease it because a low handicap signifies a better golfer.

Golf is a sport played by millions of people around the world. In the U.S., 25.3 million people played golf in 2012, according to the National Golf Foundation. In 2014, there were about 15,500 golf facilities, where about 11,500 of them were open to the public in the U.S., according to the foundation. Alone in Georgia, golfers have 523 golf courses to play and over 50 golf courses in the Metro Atlanta area.

Fox Creek Golf Club, on 1501 Windy Hill Road, Smyrna, Georgia, offers a par-62 golf course, driving range, chipping and putting area, and two instructors for lessons. The par-62, 18-hole golf course is shorter than standard par-72 golf courses, but no less of a challenge.

“The shorter course is more approachable to beginners because it is not as intimidating,” Chelsea Watkins, assistant manager/marketing coordinator, said.

Fox Creek Golf Club is fairly affordable. It offers a round of golf for under $30, seven days a week, which is less than the average fee of $45 for a round of golf in the U.S., according to the National Golf Foundation.

Fox Creek has a lot of junior and beginner programs, including the First Tee program that teaches juniors more about life and values. It also has four-week adult beginner classes that teach the basics of golf, which goes along with a beginner league every Wednesday, that helps new golfers get on the golf course and build up a social network playing with other golfers at the same level.

“The beginner classes have been very successful, and we often see students come out and practice more and more on their own after the class,” Watkins said. “The cost of the four-week class is $150, which I think is a fair price to see if you like golf or not.”

Chelsea Watkins, assistant manager/marketing coordinator at Fox Creek Golf Course is one of the friendly faces that will meet you in the pro shop. Photo by Mette Pedersen
Chelsea Watkins, assistant manager/marketing coordinator at Fox Creek Golf Course is one of the friendly faces that will meet you in the pro shop. Photo by Mette Pedersen

The course is open from sun light till sunset, and the pro shop can be contacted at 770-977-1997 to book a tee time or get more information about fees, the range, and lessons.

Another way to see if golf is something for you is to go to a driving range, purchase a bucket of range balls and borrow a club to hit the balls into the field. At Marietta Golf Center, which was ranked in the top 100 driving ranges in 2012, you can buy different sizes of buckets, ranging from 35 balls for $5 to 135 balls for $13 and borrow a club for free.

Verner, the former teaching professional, said that on a busy day between 200-300 golfers come through the center to hit balls and practice their golf skills. The Marietta Golf Center has four instructors connected to the center that offers golf lessons and instructions for golfers at all levels, as well as both junior clinics and adult clinics with course play for five weeks.

Kyle Verne, former teaching professional, welcomes golfers to Marietta Golf Center behind the counter. Photo by Mette Pedersen
Kyle Verne, former teaching professional, welcomes golfers to Marietta Golf Center behind the counter. Photo by Mette Pedersen

Marietta Golf Center is located at 1701 Gresham Road, Marietta, and can be contacted at 770-977-1997 for more information about the range, fees, and instructions.

Cobblestone Golf Club is another alternative in the area that offers a par-71 18-hole golf course, a practice facility, and a men’s golf association, which is a league that plays every Saturday. The only requirement to join the men’s golf association league is to have a handicap, but there is no limit to how high or low your handicap should be as long as you have one.

“The MGA (men’s golf association) is a good way to get into the social network,” Ian Orange, assistant golf professional at Cobblestone Golf Club, said. “It is a good way to meet people and build a network with a common interest.”

Ian Orange, assistant golf professional at Cobblestone Golf Club, assists golfers booking and confirming tee-times. Photo by Mette Pedersen
Ian Orange, assistant golf professional at Cobblestone Golf Club, assists golfers booking and confirming tee-times. Photo by Mette Pedersen

Cobblestone golf course located on 4200 Nance Road, Acworth, can be contacted at 770-917-5151 to book tee-times, learn more about how to obtain a handicap, rates, and joining the men’s golf association.

If any of this has raised your eyebrow and made you curious about playing golf. Remember, patience is going to be your friend. More than likely, unless you are a natural talent, you will probably not succeed at first, but let it not discourage you.

Orange said that his best advice for new golfers besides getting a lesson from a professional is to spend a lot of time on the driving range, hitting a lot of golf balls, getting them airborne, and become comfortable over the golf ball, before you take on the challenge to master the golf course.

“Practice, practice, practice,” Watkins, at Fox Creek, said.

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