In my last blog, I talked about how to play golf with limited time. Today I offer some guidance on playing golf when your limited resource is money.
For many of the clients I work with, and most others in the golfing world, this problem is not much of an issue. However, there are others, especially younger players just starting out, for whom the cost involved in playing golf can seem like a barrier to entry into the game. I recall when I was first out of college I had limited spare cash to play golf, but as it was such an important part of my life I had to get creative with the resources I did have.
While it is unlikely you will find a way to play golf for free, there are ways to dramatically cut the cost, and manage to play golf within a limited budget. You need to look at all of the costs involved in playing golf, both for equipment/clothing and the fees to play, and spend every penny wisely. For example, if your funds are limited, it is a waste of money to purchase your equipment at the clubs where you play golf as they are far more expensive than stores such as Golf Smith. An even cheaper option is to buy equipment second hand, such as on eBay or Craigslist, where you can often pick up equipment that is in excellent condition for a fraction of the price. You could even go to Walmart, Target, or a sporting goods store to get your golf equipment at a reasonable price.
It is also unnecessary to pay top dollar for expensive brand golf balls and gloves like Titlist, unless you are playing top amateur golf tournaments. Go for less expensive brands, or find the used golf ball section at the golf shop. These used balls a lot of times have only been hit and found from the water hazards on the golf course and the golf shop sells them at a reduced price. I don’t recommend this for tournament play, but it works great for the beginner golfer that does not play tournaments. The same goes with the golf clubs themselves – go with the less expensive brand. If you have a number of driving ranges within your local area, then save money further by shopping around to compare prices and find the driving range that has the best price for a bucket of balls.
Another tip is if you know that you are going to be hitting golf balls 2 to 3 times per week, you can by a range card that will save you money per bucket of ball. The most valuable thing you can do is work on your short game (i.e. putting, chipping, sand play and pitching). At most golf courses or practice facilities, it does not cost anything to work on your short game and you can use the same few golf balls to practice your short game with.
It also doesn’t cost anything to swing the golf club at home, and this is a great way to work on your golf game. Another idea, if you have the space, is to invest a little money on putting a practice area into your backyard. Spending this money upfront will allow you to practice your golf for free, and to save on the cost of travel and paying for golf balls at the practice range or golf course. There are some excellent players that learned to play golf in their backyard by hitting into a net or setting up a pitch shot to hit into a trash can or bucket.
Finally, if you do go out to play, visit the golf courses with the best prices. When I was on a very limited budget, it was not usually cost advantageous for me to play, so I spent a lot more time going to the practice facility then on the golf course.
When I was earning my CPA license between 1997 and 2000, I had a budget of $250 a month for my golf game living in Irvine (Orange County, California). To make the most of my funds, I got a range card for about $100 a month. Often when I would show up to the range I found stray golf balls lying out there (before I picked them, I made sure that they were no one else’s golf balls!), so I would save money on those. The other $150 was used to play golf at a place in Costa Mesa which had a good public course, and the rates at the time were very reasonable. I could only afford to play at the weekends, but it was better than nothing at all.
If you are looking for ways to play golf on a limited budget then I hope these tips will help you find a way to afford to play this great game.