The long game refers to your drives (shots off the tee) and fairway shots; everything short of the shots you make to get onto the green.

Each hole has a different difficulty level, different par and distinctive hazards, so instructing you to use your Driver on every tee would be blatantly wrong. This is something you will learn over time as you learn the various shots you make according to the club, the placement of the ball and your personal swing.

Generally speaking, the lower the club number, the longer and lower your ball will go. A 4-iron shot will travel long and low and will most likely roll, whereas a 9-iron shot will have much more loft and go less distance both in the air and on the ground.

The professionals on television make it look so easy; they consistently hit the ball long and straight and never miss-hit the ball making it dribble ten feet, or completely miss the ball.

Driving is very important to the game, and many hours spent at the driving range will help improve your distance. Experiment with the same club to see what works for you if you move the ball forward or backward in your stance. Take a lesson, if possible, and learn the proper swing from the beginning.

Mastering the long game helps you get to the green in fewer strokes, keeping your score and frustration level down. Remember that it takes a long time to learn consistency and remember to have fun!

What to keep in your golf bag.

There are many golf bags available, some designed for fashion, some for utility and some that combine both features. There are big bags, bigger bags and bags so big that they would keep everything I need for a long weekend vacation in one of the side pockets!

Generally speaking, you need a bag just large enough to hold your clubs, extra balls, your glove, tees, car keys, extra pencils, ball markers, a ball retriever, sunscreen, a windbreaker and a large umbrella.

It is also a good idea to have a packet of tissues, a band-aid or two, and if you play courses where insects are a problem, a can of bug repellent comes in very handy.

A small pack of baby wipes come in very handy; in your bag they get warmed by the heat, so when you get sweaty or a sand trap covered you with sand, a nice warm wipe can be very refreshing.

I happen to be allergic to bees, hornets and wasps, so my Epipen is an important addition to my bag. I am also hypoglycemic so I carry Lifesavers, which has to be replaced several times throughout the year because they tend to melt.

One item that doesn’t need to be in your golf bag is your cell phone. If you must carry it, turn off the ringer as a courtesy to other players. If you must use it, be aware of others who might be taking a swing or putting their ball. Be considerate!

Having these items in your golf bag should provide everything you will need, even in a minor emergency (like a blister) or a major inconvenience, like a sudden rainstorm. Being prepared makes the game a great deal more fun.

The popularity of golf has increased tremendously over the past forty five years, giving us champions like Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and world-renowned courses like Pinehurst,  Augusta National and the Blue Monster at Doral.

Why has golf become so popular? It’s the opportunity to be outside, to get a good whole body workout, network with friends or business colleagues at a leisurely pace, and to play a game that you can never perfect.

Your scorecard, over time, shows your improvement, which keeps you playing again and again. 

Here is a very basic lesson in golf for the person who has no clue about the game.

Golf is played on an eighteen-hole course;  each hole has its “par”, which is the number of tee shots (drives),  fairway shots, chips (short hits as you approach the green), and putts.

The par number is based on the length and difficulty of the hole. Pars range from 3 to 6. If you get the ball in the hole in five shots on a par five hole, you “made par.”  If it took you six shots, it’s called a bogie, if you made it in four, it’s a birdie.

There are usually “hazards” of some sort on all the holes. Bodies of water, sand traps, and trees are strategically placed to make the hole more challenging. Beginner golfers should seek to find courses to play that are easier to play, with fewer hazards.

Each player keeps their own score, marking the number of total number of shots for each hole. At the end, each person adds their scores-the lowest number is the winner.

It is important for beginner golfers to not take themselves too seriously. It takes a long time to get good at this game; even though the professionals make it look so easy.

Take a lesson or two at the onset; it will help you develop a proper swing and help you get off to a good start.

Remember that it’s just a game. Have fun and look at the big picture-you’re outside and you’re not at work!