Hi everybody!! Welcome to Better Golf Academy Podcast, I am your Host Hanju Lee and…Welcome to 2020!! Yeah!! I don’t know about you, but I am a huge new year resolution guy. I don’t know why…I just like the idea of a fresh new start. Like…ummmm…golf. Who decided that golf should be divided into 2 9 hole rounds and after each nine-hole, it routes you back to the clubhouse to stop and get refreshments…and start over on the back nine? It’s brilliant. Played a crappy front 9? No worries, fresh start from hole number 10. Take a deep breath and start over.

So, I do this thing every year called 5 Days to your best year ever by Michael Hyatt. It’s an online course you take for 5 days to lay out your goals for next year. Not only that, you deep dive into each goal, categorize it, clarify the purpose of it and learn how to create habits around it and even gives you the tools to keep track of it throughout the year.  It really has been a life-changer for me.

For instance, last year, one of my physical goals was to run 1000 miles. (there are like 10 categories)…spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, marital, parental, social, vocational, avocational, financial…and for physical, I chose this goal. One of the questions this course asks for each goal that you set is: “how will your life change as a result of accomplishing this goal?” Which is a great question, don’t you think? I think those of you that are into new year resolutions should all ask this same question for each goal. And this is what I wrote. “Ultimately, I believe my life will be more productive…running 1000 miles. I will feel better, stronger and even be empowered to push beyond the boundaries of the norm.” I also wrote at the bottom, I have not reached this goal in 2 straight years, looking forward to seeing if I will accomplish it or not…cause, it’s a big goal. 20 miles per week.

Well…did I? No!! I ran 204 out of 365 days a total of 939 miles. That’s 61 miles short. My wife is like, that’s so close…why didn’t you run some extra in the last months to make up for it so you can reach your goal? Well, what she doesn’t know is that I ran extra miles in the last months to just reach 939. Lol. And, speaking of not reaching your goals, if you listen to the last episode, I talk about doing a PGA’s Players Ability Test…well, I didn’t pass that either. I’ll spare you the details but it didn’t happen. So, am I disappointed? Yeah…a little bit…but, I am actually more encouraged knowing that it’s never about the destination but about who you become as you strive to get there. And, I am 100% convinced that I am better than last year.  I am stronger, gained more courage, I put myself out there…including launching this podcast, I believe in myself more and overall…most importantly, my golf score actually has improved a couple of strokes. Hahaha!

Do you know what I would love? I would love to hear from you and to hear what your goals are for this year. I am here to help so let me know how I can do that. Just go to bettergolfacademy.com/goals and let me know your thoughts and goals and I promise to get back to you. Sounds good? Cool.

Also, as promised, I want to give a shoutout to one of my listeners, and his name is Toran. He says “Awesome!” Hanju has an extremely easy to follow attitude about golf. Be it the science or the type. I like being able to listen during my work-day, and Hanju makes his tips easy enough to follow that I can take his tips home without re-listening to the podcast to find them. Can’t wait to hear more. I think this channel is going to go very far. Keep up the great work Hanju, and I will continue to listen and work on my game.

Well, wow…thank you, Toran. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your day and thank you for your encouragement of thinking that this channel will go very far. I hope so too!!

A New Year

So, it’s a new year. And I thought it would be a good time to talk to some people that are deciding if they want to take on this crazy game. I want to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly part of the game but mostly, I want to tangibly help those that are starting out to give them the right tools to work on and even what steps to take to actually get on the golf course and play for the very first time. I know this game can be super intimidating and scary because of all the unknowns, so I want to expose some of the myths and give you some simple guidelines to get you ready and out on the course playing. Yeah? Sounds fun? 

Also, those faithful listeners that are saying, well…I don’t think I need to hear this since I already know how to play…but I think it still might be helpful and it will also be awesome for you to hear because I know you know someone that is thinking about or even starting to play but haven’t taken the steps to get out on the course. So, here we go.

Preparing to Play for the First Time

I started playing around age 10. I say “playing” but it wasn’t really. I picked up a club and started swinging at the ball. My dad had these Wiffle golf balls. You know what those are? They are plastic golf balls that have holes in them so you can hit them super hard and they don’t go anywhere. I was intrigued because every little movement made on the swing will launch the ball in all different directions and I even kept on missing the ball altogether. I was like…dang, this game is hard. But for some reason, that just got me obsessed with the game at that time. I started watching golf on TV and started mimicking the players. Their setup, swing and even their follow-through. I would practice in front of a mirror to see if my swing looked like theirs. Then, I would go back out in the backyard and try to hit the ball with the modified swing and on and on and on. I started reading books and magazines and soon…I became even more obsessed with the game. I had no other friends that played. It was just me and my dad. He was kind of going through the same thing minus the obsession. He and I would hit the balls in the backyard and eventually, we got pretty good at it. Meaning…we stopped whiffing the ball. You know whiffing ’s such a funny word. When a golfer attempts to strike a ball and misses it completely. It makes a noise….and you know what kind of noise it makes? ….”whiff”.  It’s the funniest thing to witness. Then it happened!! My dad said we are ready to buy real clubs. So, we went to the local K-Mart and bought a ½ set. It was a junior set that had 5,7 and a 9 iron along with 3 wood and a driver. And when I say wood…it was really wood. The brand I remember was called the Golden Bears. It was a Jack Nicklaus brand…he was the best golfer in the world, how could you go wrong?

Not knowing anything, we drove to the local golf course. We knew they had a practice range, we’ve seen people hit balls there, so we wanted to do the same. So, that’s where my story begins. And from the driving range to the 1st tee on a real golf course is another entire journey. So, let’s tackle that.

So, from spending a lot of time on the driving range preparing to someday get on the golf course, how do I know when I am ready to play? For me, there were 3 key components that happened on the practice range that gave us enough confidence to say, okay I am ready and eventually step out on the golf course.

  1. I made contact with the golf ball 100% of the time with every club. If this is not you, don’t venture out yet…it might frustrate others and you certainly don’t want to do that. I know people will say things like, “Hey, who cares what others think, just go and have a good time”. Well…I was taught to always think about others, and you do not want to be a burden or to ruin someone else’s fun. When you are whiffing the ball and hitting it all over the place, they will never invite you back…trust me.
  2. When I make contact with the ball, it goes where I expected it to go….most of the time. Do you know what army golf is? When your ball goes…LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT…lol. You’ll waste a lot of your time and everyone else’s if you cannot somewhat control where the ball is going. You’ll hit it in the hazard and end up with your group being the search party. No fun for anyone…not even you. And those golf balls are expensive!!
  3. I understand the distance control. Meaning, if I am close to the green, I know enough to hit the ball softer and use a more lofted club. I have a pretty good concept of chipping that can get my ball closer, not overshooting it way past and there’s a component of me being a danger to others.
  4. I have a decent feel around the green when it comes to putting. That it doesn’t take me more than 3 putts to get the ball in the hole. 4 putts are okay for long long distance putting but let’s stick to 3 as a goal for now.

Pushing Through the Unknown

I say when you can consistently do the 4 points that I just talked about, you are almost ready to get on the course. But not completely ready. You know why? Because I think this is where a lot of people get stuck. There’s a deep fear or intimidation or something that keeps them from just taking the first step to tee it up. I really think it stems from lack of knowledge and not really knowing what to expect or even what to do…there are so many rules and etiquettes. So I will attempt to try to keep your mind at ease and prepare you to go out there and have a great, fun and enjoyable first round.

  1. Find a local golf course that attracts a lot of beginners.  Some are called executive courses because the holes are a lot shorter, fairways are wider and there aren’t too many hazards. It’s not the prettiest but usually, it’s the cheapest. Some offer a 9 hole only option which can be great if you are a first-timer and also, you will be surrounded by other beginners so you won’t feel so out of place.
  2. Avoid the rush. Make a tee time in the late afternoons or during a weekday (Monday through Thursday). The last thing you want to do is to get out there on a busy day with a ton of people. It can get stressful and overwhelming. Avoid the rush…your first round should be enjoyable with no one pushing you from behind and getting upset that you are playing too slow.
  3. Don’t keep score. Keeping score means you are hitting every shot until your ball goes in the hole. This can cause some anxiety and you really don’t need to know what your score is yet. You are just trying to get the feel of the play. If you are struggling with a specific shot (i.e. a bunker shot), don’t spend 5 minutes hitting the ball 10 times trying to get out, after a couple of tries, just pick it up and throw it on the green so you can now putt. Everyone will appreciate it. If you are chipping and if it goes way over the green and you chip it back and it goes way over the green again..etc…just pick it up and throw it on the green.  If your shots on a long hole are not advancing very far and you keep hitting it and hitting it…eventually, just pick up and drop near to green and play out the hole. The key here is to not to be left behind in your group. Keep pace with the rest of the group. Don’t be the person that’s holding up play for others.
  4. Keep up. This is so very important. Every player, expert or intermediate won’t mind playing with you if you just keep up. They all understand if you are struggling with the game, they’ve all been there and they might also be struggling too…but they will turn on you if your bad play is affecting them…which means, they keep stopping and waiting and waiting for you. Be mindful of the group and the pace that they are playing and just keep up…even if it means for you to just pick up the ball and drop it near the hole. Again, you are not here to keep score, you are here to get the feel of what it’s like to play a Round.
  5. Know your basic golf etiquette.  
    1. DO’s
      1. This includes taking care of the course..repair ball marks on the green (ball makes a mark on the green when it lands on it, it’s important to flatten it back out so that other golfers will always putt on the smooth surface). 
      2. Replace divots if you take a big chunk of grass out on your downswing, replace it with the sand or place the grass back in the divot you created (some courses tell you to just replace it with the sand). 
      3. Rake the bunkers. So that the next person that ends up in it has a smooth, easy lie verse being stuck in a footprint hole that you created.
      4. Have the player who is farthest away from the pin hit the next shot. Do not swing at the same time. Let them hit first. This causes distraction.
    2. DON’TS
      1. Don’t move, talk or make noise in the middle of their swing. Even during their setup.
      2. Don’t walk across the line of another player’s putt on the green. This can cause the ball to not roll true to the hole because you stepped on it.
      3. Don’t hit your shot until the group in front of you is well out of range. Lots of fights occur because of this.
      4. Be out of their vision. Don’t stand near or right in front of a player who’s hitting the ball…be out of their site so you don’t draw attention in the middle of their swing.

Okay, I know that’s a lot of stuff to remember. So, let me wrap it up in this one sentence that will make your first-round success. Ready? Here it is. “Consider others more important than yourself”. Huh? What’s that got to do with anything? Actually, it’s everything when it comes to golf. All the dos and don’ts that I just talked about? The etiquette of golf? Did you notice that for every etiquette is created so that others can benefit? It’s all about helping and noticing and acknowledging and helping others. Think about it. Taking care of the course during your round, repairing your ball marks, replacing your divots, raking the bunkers so that…the others that are playing are not affected by you. 

Golf has always been a game that uniquely creates an atmosphere where even the competitors are always complimenting each other. “Great shot!” I hear that all the time during a PGA event that I am at and following these players outside of the ropes. I see the fierce competitors in the last group on the last day…walking and talking to each other…complimenting each other’s good shots. 

Isn’t that fascinating? And I believe if you are mindful of others and not so consumed in your own game in your own little world, I think you’ll naturally have a good time. Look around, see the beauty around you and focus and hit good shots, celebrate them together. Keep up and don’t worry too much about your score yet. Enjoy the company. Have great conversations. Be friendly. Be happy.


I am constantly reminded why I love this game so much. What other games in the world do you get to spend 4-5 hours together in gorgeous, green, manicured acres of land with lakes, rivers, trees…walking, talking, laughing….crying, screaming…oh wait…forget the last two. Anyways, you get me right? Well, I am really excited for you this year. Get ready and get out there. Have a blast. Be mindful of others and be awesome!!

Please don’t forget to leave me a review or share this podcast. I will give you a shout out on my next episode. But in the meantime, thanks for listening to Better Golf Academy Podcast, I really appreciate you being here. Love you guys. Bye for now.