Golf is known as the business sport for a reason: There is no better activity to find out who somebody is, both in business and personally, than playing a round of golf with them. If you haven’t played for a long time, or don’t play at all, now may be the time to start — or start again. Here’s how to do it. The best way to get in the game is to hire a golf pro for just a few lessons. You need to learn how to grip, swing and generally get a “feel” for the club. Ask around for a recommendation, as opposed to searching for an instructor online or through the yellow pages.
Picking the right place to play is crucial. If you take on difficult courses before you’re ready, the game will seem impossible. Start off by going to a local driving range — you can hit a bucket of balls for less than $10 — where you can just get a feel for your clubs. Also don’t forget putting and chipping — those skills are almost half the game, although people mostly concentrate on the driving.
The first golf course I would recommend you try is an executive golf course, where all the holes are par 3, and where playing a round of golf will be quicker. Par 3 means that you should be able to drive the ball to the green (first shot) and put it in within two strokes. Many of these courses are public.
Once you feel comfortable with your golf, I recommend staying with a public course — these tend to be easier and cheaper than private and semi-private courses, though the waits can be longer and the courses not as pristine. A round of golf at a public course tends to range from $30 to $100. Private and semi-private courses typically start at $75 and can run well over $300. Remember, unless you are a member or invited by a member you cannot play on private courses. Semi-private courses give preference to members but will allow a non-member to play based on availability.
The following is a list of highly recommended courses to get you started in the tri-state area:
660 RiverVale Rd, RiverVale
Greens fees: Monday through Thursday, $79; Friday, $99; weekends and holidays, $109; golf cart included. Rates are typically lower before 7:30 a.m. or late afternoon (twilight rate). Less than 15 miles from Manhattan.
Knoll Rd, Parsippany
(973) 263- 7110
Weekdays, $40; weekends $55; cart not included. Lower rates for residents during off-peak hours. Good course, good value.
105-137 Wheatsworth Rd, Hamburg
Weekends, $135; Fridays, $120; weekdays, $100; cart included. Lower rates at off-peak times. Voted best public course in New Jersey by Golfweek, Zagat and New Jersey Monthly, among others. Not an easy course.
527 Rte 94, Newton
Weekends, $75; weekdays, $60. A nice course that has been recently renovated.
138 Route 23, Franklin
Weekends, $85; Fridays, $75; weekdays, $50; cart included. A good value and easy to get to.
1 Wild Turkey Way, Hardyston
Weekends, $120; Fridays, $105; weekdays, $95. Wild Turkey is a very nice course and tends to be forgiving.
700 Strykers Rd, Phillipsburg
Weekends and holidays, $110; Fridays, $95; weekdays, $85. Not an easy course, but unique because holes are patterned in different styles from 1885 to 1955.
Silo Ridge Country Club, Amenia
Weekends, $73; weekdays $53 Nice course, but challenging in a pastoral setting.
2015 Rte 9, Garrison
Weekdays, $65; Fri. Sat. Sun., $90. This is known as a challenging course with spectacular views of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Highlands.
285 Blue Hill Rd, Pearl River
Weekends, $60; weekdays, $50; cart not included. Reduced rates for residents. Very popular course with locals because of the value.
New York Country Club
103 Brick Church Rd, New Hempstead
Weekends, $135; weekdays, $110. Very nice course; not too far from Manhattan.
Dan Pincus is founder of World Golfs, which offers a networking program for executives who wish to build their contacts and grow their business in a relaxed and productive atmosphere. For more information please contact World Golfs at (201) 489-2240 or visit their website at www.worldgolfs.com.