Golf can and should be affordable for everyone. The personal enjoyment and life lessons that golf provides often make it a transformative experience for those lucky enough to have the opportunity. It’s time to spend less on golf and open up that opportunity to a much broader group of people. In my first article, I’ll explore ways to do just that.
Here are 3 ways to bring the high cost of golf back to Earth.
1) Buy used equipment. Equipment is very important in golf, so if your budget is tight, don’t go out and buy another brand of club just because it’s shiny new. You are almost always sacrificing quality when you buy cheap new clubs. Trust me, your game will suffer for it. You’d be much better off waiting for the right deal on a used game. There are classic designs like the old Ping i2 irons that are sure to outperform the new cheap starter sets. Secondhand Golfsmith, Craigslist, eBay, and your local pro shop are some good places to start when looking for affordable used clubs. I recommend going to a golfsmith or equivalent (TGW, etc.) so you can narrow down your search by hitting clubs in person. They usually have good used deals, but you’ll usually get better value in a non-retail setting like eBay, Craigslist, or your local golf course. When I started, I was using some dirty old blades from the 1970s (blades is a generous term), with an old school red plaid bag that looked more like a quiver of arrows made out of a red kilt. At the time, I had no idea why I was getting so many comments and jokes from random people on the course; on the other hand, I had no idea the difference between a 5-iron and a 9-iron. Fortunately, I came across the PGA Golf Pro who helped straighten me out after a bit of a laugh at my “team”. It ended up being very helpful and it turned out that he had a $50 set of irons that he was selling for one of his clients. The client had recently upgraded and left his old clubs for the Pro to sell at the pro shop. This is not unusual; Kind of like a mechanic helping to sell a customer’s car. So go out and find a great set of used golf clubs at your local course, golf retail stores, or online. Golfsmith remains one of the best places to sample a variety of used clubs.
2) Visit thrift stores to save the money we bring in. You might be surprised, but literally EVERY thrift store I’ve been to has $30-$80 golf tees for $3-$6. Think about it, a relatively high percentage of golfers have deep pockets. What do the rich do with their little used things? Donate to a charity. The good thing is that there is not much competition in these places to attract golf. Golfers just don’t shop at thrift stores and non-golfers don’t know that some of these tees retail for $80. So this is what you do:
has. Go to your local thrift store
b. Hit the shelves that have polo shirts and pants and browse one by one for the highest quality materials and the best brands. You’ll find a lot more pushbacks than guardians, but there will be gems there if you can spot them.
against Make sure you wash your clothes well before wearing them.
d. Now it’s time to hit the field looking like a million bucks. Remember, no one knows it’s second hand; they just know that you have good taste when it comes to golf clothing.
Saturdays are usually a good day to buy second-hand items and usually have great sales potential. Thrifting is about having fun and searching for things that are undervalued. Prepare to leave empty handed; there are not always amazing finds. If you get scammed, don’t let that put you off, just check back after they get a couple of new submissions. Trust me, you’ll save money, look great, and have fun doing it.
3) Get creative with your rounds and your practice – it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money each time. When you want to hit the course, play twilight golf at night. Most golf courses charge significantly less at night. Many courses will also allow twighlighters to play until dark, so if you move quickly you can score extra holes. Cheaper fees for additional holes? Now that’s making your dollar stretch.
When it comes to practice, spend time going to the course to just work on chipping and putting. This is absolutely FREE and essential to becoming a better golfer. It will help you improve your scores, increase your enjoyment of it, and ultimately save you money. When you’re out on the driving range, take your time and make each ball count because you’re paying roughly 5-10 cents apiece (typically $3-$4 for a bucket of 30-50 balls depending on location). To get the most out of each ball, be sure to take several practice swings and visualize hitting the ball on each one. The goal is to get the same feedback from your practice swings as you get from hitting. Basically, this can give you 2-3 times more impact from your practice, without spending more money. Practice smart to become a better golfer and save money doing it.
Until next time, stay thrifty my friends —
The thrifty golfer