Getting driving range golfers onto the golf course

If you have played the game of golf for as long as I have – over 45 years – it is sometimes hard to remember back to the days when you were a beginner, practicing, having your lessons and working hard on the driving ranges and practice grounds to try and get your game to a good enough level to allow you to venture out onto a big course.

Not everyone is fortunate to have a short course, pitch & putt, par 3 or other similar facility to make that leap from the driving range to the golf course a bit easier, but over the years, I have come across a number of golf clubs that have made that transition just a bit easier for the beginners at their club.

Golfers who are having lessons on a driving range may not have experienced the sheer pleasure of walking around an 18-hole golf course, providing exercise, sometimes beautiful views and scenery, the flora and fauna and the fun of 4 hours with friends.  The driving range does not offer that experience, and beginners need to know what awaits them when they get out onto the course itself. 

One club manager friend of mine in Sweden told me about a game they have devised to give beginners a taste of the full golf course ‘experience’ and at the same time giving them a chance to meet and socialize with more experienced players, integrating them into the club rather than ostracizing them for not being very good players.

Choose a quiet summer evening, and invite beginners to join members in a team event, each team comprising two players – one experienced player and one beginner.   The pair share one set of clubs between them.  The experienced player hits the tee shot on every hole, and gets the ball onto the green, in as few shots as they can, at which point the beginner is given the job of putting out.   The experienced player can help the beginner with lines and other advice – they have to try and help the beginner and achieve the lowest score they can on each hole.

The game will not take long (like foursomes) as each pair only plays one ball.  The game could be 9 holes or 18 holes, whatever you wish.   The experienced player should mark the car, recording the number of strokes to get onto the green and the number of putts on each hole.  The organisers can award prizes to the pair with the lowest score, the beginner with the fewest putts, and other such achievements.

I understand many golf clubs in Sweden use this format (and variations on this) and it works really well to get beginners experiencing the big course, without causing embarrassment and frustration when they struggle to get their ball from tee to green.

Another game format is that in a social competition, beginners (perhaps those who are in a tuition programme currently at the club) earn the ability to have one ‘throw’ per hole, or one ‘mulligan’ per hole free of any penalty.   You get the idea I am sure, and you can make up your own set of game rules if you wish.

The point of these types of formats is to get beginners out onto the golf course and let them have the chance of a positive, fun-filled experience with more experienced golfers.  Start with some alcohol to make participants relaxed perhaps – encourage laughter and enjoyment.  Pick the experienced players to join these beginners very carefully – no-one should take this event format too seriously – in fact not at all seriously!!

Prizes should be silly and trivial – drinks vouchers; silly hats; fluorescent polo shirts etc….  You may only have four, 4-balls playing in such a competition (8 beginners and 8 experienced players), but if all beginners walk away with a smile on their face and a prize, then a great deal will have been achieved and the beginner will be on their way to becoming a valued regular at your golf club.

Jerry Kilby

Golf Management Consultant


Jerry Kilby can be contacted on