Saturday, March 28, 2015

Seattle Golf Progression Chart

How do we make golf better and more accessible to people?  In other words, how can we keep the sport alive, when younger generations become less interested in it.

One of the things I saw as a block to getting involved in the sport, was the lack of an easy progression 'chart' tailored to my area. I recently made such a chart for a friend who is considering taking up golf in the Seattle area.  He lives right next to Willows Run, so I made sure to put those in there.  There are a LOT more courses that would fit level 3 & 4, but I have not listed them here.  Please let me know which ones are your favorites that I missed!

Here is that chart for Seattle.  If you have one for your area, please post it in the comments!

1) Read a book on golf etiquette
    See if there is a Get Golf Ready session in your area
    Visit "Golf for Her" and check out the New to Golf section (great resources for either gender!)
2) Local instructor, group lessons:  Do this ASAP, so you don't build bad habits.  Get a 3-5 lesson package, meet/interview instructors ahead of time & with their help get basic club fitting/purchase.
Locations.  Putting & chipping at all these (and most other) locations is free :)
Willows Run (and most other golf courses)
Bellevue Golf Course
Interbay Golf
Puetz Golf
University of Washington Driving Range
Jefferson Golf Course
Jackson Golf Course
3) Gear up (in this order)
Clubs, Balls and Bag
   You do not need a full set or new clubs to start.
   But avoid crappy ones at Goodwill.  List of decent brands at bottom of post.
towel and/or toothbrush to clean your clubs
Shoes (or not! Just use an older pair that you don't care if they get muddy)
Everything else (and there is tons to buy)

Pitch & Putt, and 9 hole courses
Willows Run: Heron Links
Greenlake Pitch & Putt
Jackson Park 9 hole course
Jefferson 9 hole course
Interbay 9 hole course
LEVEL 3: FULL COURSES (difficulty/slope number)
Lynnwood (100)
The Nile (104)
Bellevue Golf Course (105)
Willow's Run Coyote Creek (109)
West Seattle Golf (115)

Willow's Run Eagle's Talon (119)
Newcastle Coal Creek (127)
Newcastle China Creek (129)

My suggestion is based off of creating a starter set that can grow with your skills.
It may take you a little while to get good enough to make good use of a driver, so don't worry about it at first.  You can add it later when you are ready for it.  Remember, even pros forgo their driver for many shots.  Michelson won tournaments without pulling it out of his bag once.

If you can, it is incredibly helpful to get fit for clubs.  This process gets you custom clubs to match your body. Everyone is a different height.  Everyone leans down a little different when addressing the ball.  The club length & how the club face lies on the ground are important to making a good shot.  Getting fir for proper clubs for your body early on will help you not pick up bad swing habits.

Then, if your budget does not allow for new clubs, consider getting last year's model of the same club.  They are often available to demo as well.  Otherwise, expect them to be a little different than this year's model in how they handle, but may be worth the savings.  Case in point:  I really love how Ping's G30s hit, but for the life of me, the G25 under-performs for my specific swing.

When starting, you may want to consider 'game improvement' or 'super game improvement' irons.  These help the ball go straighter, even when you are not swinging perfectly.

4 wood  (or a 3 or 5 wood.. I just split the difference)
5 iron or hybrid
7 iron
9 iron
Sand Wedge
Pitching Wedge

If these are too many clubs for your budget, remove Sand Wedge & 9 iron

This setup is essentially removing every other club from the bag, so the spacing on the club distance is most versatile. 

Order in which to add clubs:
3 hybrid
Pitching Wedge
the rest of the irons
4 hybrid

List of Decent Club Brands
As a beginner, just consider getting a complete Top-Flite set at Dick's Sporting Goods when they are on sale. As of 2022, they cost about $250 for a great starter set.

This is not exhaustive.  There are many off brand clubs that are great (I like some clubs by Pine Meadows)  But, there are tons of crappy ones at Goodwill that you shouldn't bother with.  They'll make hitting the ball decently that much harder.  Brands that make well known game improvement irons are in bold.

Other great clubs:

Odyssey (putters)
Taylor Made
Wilson Staff