I have a great time playing golf with my wife. When I do, many of my friends look at me and say, "I tried golfing with my wife, but I just couldn't do it." Likewise, their wives say something like, "I wanted to golf with him, and I tried. Now I don't want to anymore."

The emotional scars that are cut during the husband-wife loop on the links run deep, and can even impede efforts at future sporting outings together. But not if you follow my easy, step by step process to bring your wife into the glorious game of golf.

Golf Happy!

1. Setting Expectations

This is the whole deal. If you can explain to the person that you are teaching the game of golf that it is the most difficult sport one can play, that there are about a million things that can be done wrong that will cause a bad shot, and that bad shots are not only a part of the game, but are the game for the first few years of play, then the person you're teaching, whether it's your wife or not, has a chance at enjoying golf.

They have to be willing to stink, and understand they should stink when they first start to play.

Paul and Sarah at City Park 9 in Fort Collins

2. Give Few Pieces of Swing Advice, and Pay for Lessons

When my wife said she wanted to try golf, I took her to the range. She took a swing and missed. Then she swung again and barely nipped it. The ball went less than a foot. She looked up, red faced, and asked, "What am I doing wrong?"

"Worrying," I said. "Stop worrying about where the ball will go. Just keep your eye on the ball, and use that club to whack it."

That's the advice you are allowed to give. "Keep your eye on the ball." That, and "Stop worrying".

The ball went everywhere but straight that day, but a straight shot wasn't the goal. The goal was to see if she enjoyed hitting the ball even though it went everywhere but where she wanted it to go.

Did she enjoy being at the course? Was she enjoying just being in the sunshine in a nice place? If those kinds of feelings were there, then she had the chance of getting off the runway of despair to flying through the air of enjoyment (or less despair).

Then, she took a few group lessons with a couple of her girlfriends and learned the basics.

3. The '10,000 Golf Shots or You Are Being Paid to Play...Whichever Comes First' Rule

I told my wife that there are two circumstances under which she is allowed to get mad because of a golf shot. If she is being paid to play in any way shape or form, then she can get mad at herself for making bad golf shots. Or, if she has hit 10,000 practice balls with the accompanying study that helps one's swing improve, then she can get mad at herself for bad golf shots.

Until then, we are paying to be here, so find a way to be happy.

So many people spend $50 and up to go out on the course and be angry for 5 hours. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The game is about challenging our own personal best, that's true, but if my game isn't there, then it becomes about enjoying beautifully manicured surroundings, leisure time, and being away from work and responsibility.

It is not about moping around the course. It isn't about fretting over what is wrong with our swing. It isn't about anger.

I know guys who are like this, and I won't play with them. It's like, "Dude, you are average, you are shooting average, be happy." Or even more often, "You stink. You are playing terribly because you are terrible. I don't know why you expected your stanky game to be any better than it was the last time you played. Are you glad you paid money to come out here and be angry?"

Paul's mom and wife at Estes Park Golf Course

4. Enforce the 'Happy' Rule

So, I laid this all out for my wife. Did it matter? Nope.

Soon after she gained a bit of ability, we were out on the course, and that little bit of ability wasn't translating to a good golf score. She frowned, moped, winced, whined, and was about to start crying when I told her I was leaving (the golf course, not our marriage).

She was inconsolable. "I just want to be better," she said.

I replied, "That's fine, and after you've hit 10,000 golf balls, you will be, I promise. Until then, you are going to hit shots that go 30 yards. Over and over again. You can either accept that and happily join your husband on the beautiful golf course where we ride through amazing surroundings, playing a game that has no consequence while people drive up and offer us food and drinks and we get to spend great quality time together while you enjoy something that will be a part of my life with or without you. Or, you can be miserable, in which case you will be playing by yourself because I am leaving."

I literally had to have this episode with her. Since I meant it, it worked.

5. Practice What You Preach

This primer is all about setting realistic expectations for the enjoyment one can have with the game of golf. You have read how important it is that your wife learn to shrug off bad shots and move on with a smile. In order for it to take, you have to be able to do this as well. Good luck.

6. Be Involved, and Help Her Realize Most Golfers Are Pretty Bad At It, Too

Have her join a women's only league, an even more flexible club (like SWING of Fort Collins), or take some women only group lessons.

Or, just go sit on a 19th hole style patio that looks over a hole and have a drink. Let her sit there and see duffer after duffer make bad shot after bad shot. She'll start to realize that people who are actually good at the game are the exception, not the norm, and this went a long way in making my wife feel better about being out there.


Other useful pieces of advice

1. Just try to hit the back of the ball with the clubhead. It's like 'whack-a-mole', but instead of swinging down, you swing across.
2. Don't swing hard, swing smooth.

Hitting the ball with all your might won't make it go much further. The club is designed to send the ball a certain distance whether you swing as fast as you can or as slow as you can. What you want is a nice medium pace and solid contact with the back of the ball.

3. The world still turns

You hit a bad shot, and there were NO consequences. The sky didn't fall. Democracy didn't crumble. It's not a big deal.


1. Correcting too much

If someone's hunched over like a troll, you may want to encourage them to find a comfortable posture, but don't try to correct their stance, grip, chin position, or address. Leave that to the pros. This style requires lessons though, because proper technique is important. If someone wants to play golf, 3-10 lessons are worth it.

2. Frustration

How is your wife supposed to not get frustrated with herself if you are frustrated? Face facts. She stinks, you probably stink, and this is about taking achievement out of the game and learning to play a round enjoyably.


Enjoy the links!