Easing the Financial Burden of Golf: Part 1

Finding the time and money to play golf when you have a little mortgage and big children is much easier than it is when you have little children and a big mortgage.

Golf can be a major monetary investment for the average player. For example, a new set of brand-name irons costs approximately $800, golf shoes average about $75 a pair, and, shirts, pants, and skirts are about $50 each. These costs do not even include paying for balls, hats, gloves, or other equipment and are spent before the woman even steps onto the course! According to the rates posted at several local golf courses near me, when the woman does get to the course, she can expect to pay about $50 for 18 holes of golf plus another $20 if she wants to ride in a golf cart during her round. Lunch or snacks will add another $5 -$25 onto the tab and any lessons she takes are about $80 per hour. As I tell many of my playing partners, most of who are older than me:

Most of my fellow golfers are in or near retirement with grown children. They have quite a bit more extra time and disposable income than they did when they were my age. Younger golfers must budget effectively to play and practice as much as possible without making it an unfair drain on the household budget.

I have been managing the art of paying for golf, while being a full-time mother, for the past five years. Because I have been a stay-at-home mom while completing my graduate studies I have had to do this all on one income. Here are some things I have learned along the way:

1.       Get a golf membership at a nearby courseI have found this to be the single most effective way to save on golf costs. The price is about $70 to play one round with cart on a Saturday or Sunday adding up to over $2,200 by the end of the season. That’s if you only played once per week from April to November. This cost does not include travel, equipment, food, or clothing.

2.       Budget your golf costs and be prepared to sacrificeI wish I were one of those people who knew exactly where every dime I spent had gone, but alas, I have to admit that I “wing it” much more than I would like. However, when I wanted to upgrade and get a membership at a nicer club that was closer to my son’s pre-school, I was forced to reckon with exactly how much I normally spent on golf and to make some sacrifices along the way. I got the upgraded membership but have given up some things as well. For one thing, I rarely go to other courses and fork out dough to play. I have a home course that I have already paid to use and I make the most of it.

3.       Walk, don’t ride – The $70 to play one round on a weekend includes $20 for a cart. If you walked you would save over $600, or enough to pay for a decent set of irons by year’s end. Think of how in shape you will be also – walking 18 holes of golf is the equivalent of travelling about 6 miles on foot, and, according to HealthStatus.com, burns about 1300 calories. That’s 1/3 of a pound and nearly a day’s worth of food.

4.      Play during off times and specials – Ladies’ Day at my home course is every Thursday and any woman can play a full 18-hole round of golf, including a cart, for $35. There is also a “twilight special” where any golfer can walk and play as many holes as he or she wishes after 5pm for only $20. Be flexible with your playing days and times and cut the amount of money you pay by a lot.

5.       Use non brand-new equipment – When I decided to knit baby blankets I bought balls of every color and style of yarn and 10 different needle sizes. When I decided to try beading I had enough supplies to last for a year after making only one bracelet. Needless to say I now have a closet full of unused yarn (and my boy is too big for baby blankets) and stacks of beads in dozens of different colors that I will “get around to” stringing when I have the time.

Golf was different. I fell in love within 3 swings but I did not go out and get the latest and greatest equipment. I truly loved how it and it didn’t matter to me what clubs I was carrying or how old they were. I know now that even if I did care I wasn’t good enough in the beginning for any amount of technology to make a real difference in my game. My next door neighbor, a retired fellow and a true golfer, happened to have an entire ladies’ set that had been left by his daughter-in-law when she moved out which he happily gave to me for free. The clubs were pretty old but it was a complete set and more than enough for me to get around the course.

To this day I get my clubs on the cheap; I recently purchased a partial set of fairly new Titleist Men’s clubs, Driver through 24 degree hybrid. The previous owner had bought these clubs brand new and used them for just one year. I had them re-shafted for my specs and when all was said and done I managed to get about $1800 worth of clubs for only $150 at a garage sale.

Read: Easing the Financial Burden of Golf – Part 2