By Janie C. Farina, LPGA

Home, Home on the Range…

“O give me a home where the buffaloes roam
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day”

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~Lyrics by Bill Staines

How many students of the game of golf feel “at home” on the golf course? What makes playing on a golf course a comfortable experience vs. an embarrassment?

Recently, a novice student of mine described her last round at a local golf course, a far cry from “where the deer and the antelope play” like this: “We were rushing all the time!”

How and where do novice players go to relax and play?

I remember being a novice at pickleball, and how nervous I was learning how to play, let alone keeping up with the experts. Every team I played on lost because I was on it.

Playing on a golf course as a rookie can be just as intimidating.

“Feeling at Home” playing on the course requires a plan.

  1. “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” Dress the part! Ask about dress codes before showing up in jeans and a tee shirt at the country club.
  2. Know the rules. Playing golf has rules just like any other sport; it doesn’t take skill to educate and be informed. Walking on your teammates putting line and teeing off in front of the markers will not get you points.
  3. Stay in pace with the players on your team. Be ready with club in hand when it’s your turn. Rushing the shot will not be effective.
  4. Organize your tools. A golf bag with clubs haphazardly thrown in is a recipe for disaster. It takes more time to search for the desired club this way, let alone recognizing it’s been left on the last hole in front of the green. Going back to get it will require holding up golf traffic.
  5. Take your time looking over putts. While walking to the green, look. While waiting for your turn, look. Watch what happens when the other players putt. This eliminates mistakes on speed and direction. Players who play golf on a regular basis know this is not where you rush. Four-putting takes more time than reading a green.
  6. Use your comfort clubs. Dragging out the driver on a golf hole the width of dental floss may result in out of bounds. How embarrassing to re-tee after landing in the resident’s pool!
  7. Lastly, practice at a driving range. Play a par three course. Here there will likely be rookies as yourself, searching for ways to develop the skill to become a better player.

So finding that “down home feeling” while playing golf can depend on where you play, whom you play with, and not how you play, but how you are when you play.

Happy trails to the golf course!

Janie C. Farina is a 26-year LPGA teaching and club professional in St. Johns County. Email her at with comments or questions for future articles.

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