Golf can and should be affordable to everyone. The personal enjoyment and life lessons golf provides often make it a transformational experience for those who are lucky enough to have the opportunity. It is time to spend less on golf, and open that opportunity to a much wider group of people. In my first article, I will explore ways to do exactly that.
Here are 3 ways to bring the high cost of golf back down to Earth.
1) Buy used equipment. Equipment is very important in golf so if your budget is small, please don’t go out and purchase off-brand clubs just because they’re shiny and new. You’re almost always sacrificing quality when you’re buying cheap new clubs. Trust me your game will suffer for it. You’ll be much better off waiting for the right deal on a used set. There are classic designs like the old Ping i2 irons that will surely outperform cheap new starter sets. Golfsmith pre-owned, Craigslist, eBay, and your local pro-shop are some good places to start when looking for affordable used clubs. I recommend going in to a golfsmith or equivalent (TGW etc.) so that you can narrow your search by hitting clubs in person. They generally have good used deals but you will usually get a better value in a non-retail environment like eBay, Craigslist, or your local golf course. When I first started, I was using some dirty old 1970s blades (blades is a generous term), with an old-school red plaid bag that resembled something more like an arrow quiver made from a red Scottish kilt. At the time, I had no idea why I was getting so many comments and jokes from random people at the course; then again I had no idea the difference between a 5 iron and a 9 iron. Luckily, I ran into the PGA Golf Pro who helped straighten me out after having a good chuckle at my “equipment”. He ended up being very helpful and just happened to have 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 in the pro shop. This is not uncommon; sort of like a mechanic helping to sell a client’s car. So get out there and find a great set of used golf clubs at your local course, golf retailers, or on the internet. Golfsmith is still one of the best places to test a variety of used clubs.
2) Hit thrift stores to save money on attire. You may be surprised, but literally EVERY thrift store I’ve ever been to has $30 – $80 golf shirts for $3-$6. Think about it, a relatively high percentage of golfers have a lot of money. What do rich people do with their lightly used stuff? Give to Charity. The great thing is, there’s not a lot of competition at these places for golf attire. Golfers just don’t shop at thrift stores and non-golfers don’t know that some of these shirts retail for $80 bucks. So, here’s what you do:
a. Go to your local thrift store
b. Hit the racks that have polos and slacks and search one by one for the highest material quality and best brands. You’ll find a lot more put-backs than keepers, but there will be gems in there if you can spot them.
c. Make sure you wash the clothes well before wearing.
d. Now it’s time to step on the course looking like a million bucks. Remember, no one knows it’s second hand; they just know you have good taste when it comes to golf clothes.
Saturdays are often good days to go thrifting and will usually have strong potential for sales. Thrifting is all about having fun and searching for things that are undervalued. Be prepared to leave empty-handed; there aren’t amazing finds every time. If you get skunked, don’t let that discourage you – just check back after they get a couple of new shipments in. 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 every time. When you want to play the course, play twighlight golf in the evening. Most golf courses charge significantly less in the evening. Many courses also will let twighlighters play until dark – so if you move quickly, you can get extra holes in. Cheaper rates for extra holes? Now that’s making your dollar stretch.
When it comes to practice, spend time going to the course to work on just chipping and putting. This is absolutely FREE and essential to become a better golfer. It will help your scores improve, increase your enjoyment, and ultimately save you money. When you’re at the driving range, take your time and make each ball count because you’re paying roughly 5-10 cents for each one (usually $3-$4 for a bucket of 30-50 balls depending on location). To get the most out of every ball, make sure to take several practice swings and visualize hitting the ball on each of these. The goal is to get the same feedback from your practice swings as you do from actually hitting. This can essentially 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