Author Topic: Golf on the cheap  (Read 7800 times)

Paul der Krake

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Golf on the cheap
« on: August 24, 2012, 12:22:40 PM »
I realise that golf is hardly a Mustachian sport. Only old and boring people play and it's a huge money sinker, right?

With an estimated 28 million golfers in the US, I am willing to bet that there must be quite a handful of occasional golfers, even here on MMM. Over my money-strapped teenage and college years, I have come up with techniques to bring costs down. There are roughly 3 categories of expenses directly related to chasing the white ball around your favourite course.

Saving money on equipment

Buy old, or even better, used clubs. What do you need the latest TaylorMade irons with adjustable weight for? Golf companies release new clubs every 6 months. Did the pros improve their game in such dramatic fashion over the past five years? What was good enough for Tiger in 2005 is good enough for you in 2012. But seriously, clubs will last you forever. It's a piece of metal at the end of a metal stick that was specifically designed to hit rock solid objects all day long. Assuming that you are a grown adult, you should never have to buy new clubs in the same decade. Regrip them every 5 years if you really need to and clean them once every now and then to prevent rust.

Be on the lookout for free stuff. Most golfers succomb to the need to upgrade their equipment way more often than necessary, so just borrow or buy their old stuff at a fraction of the price. Some clubs even keep a closet full of lost/abandonned equipment.

Take care of your shoes. That leather is not going to feed itself. A good pair of shoes will cost you and should be treated with care. My current pair set me back $100 and I religiously clean them after every round.

At the range

Depending on where you live, hitting balls at the range can be expensive. The average golfer routine looks something like this:

1. Drive to the range
2. Buy bucket of ~40 balls for $5
3. Hit 10 short shots (9-7)
4. Hit 10 mid-to-long shots (7 and lower)
5. Switch to the driver while discretely ensuring the other guys are shorter
6. Remember to work on short game with 4 balls left in the bucket.
7. Putt for 5-10 minutes before driving back home.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

First of all, enough with the driver. It accounts for less than 10% of the shots the pros make at the range. Who gives a crap if the other guy hits it 30 yards further? Focus on a slow, easy swing and keep the godamn ball on the fairway.

Now short game (including putting) should account for 50% of your practice time. So head over to your practice green and keep working at the chips, lobs and bunker shots and putts. The great news is that this work is essentially free. I always keep a couple balls and clubs for short game in my car and will randomly drop by my local range for 30 minutes on the way back from work. Practice makes perfect.

Additionally, focus on each of your shots. It takes me close to an hour to go through a bucket of balls. Following the 50% rule, this means that I should be at the range for 2 full hours. Thatís $2.5 for each hour of entertainment. Cheaper than going to the movies! If I donít feel like staying that long, I will discretely pocket the remaining balls and use them the next time. Make sure the staff doesnít see you doing this because the will think you are stealing their balls to play on a real course.

On the course

Most golfers like to alternate courses. I am lucky to live in an area with enough courses in a 20 mile radius to forget what each course is like by the time it comes back in rotation. With the recession, a ton of private clubs have started opening their doors to non-members to make ends meet and there is very little incentive to join a country club these days (at least from a pure golfing perspective). I cannot recommend golfnow.com enough. It is basically a way to browse all available tee times in your location and get a discount from the price youíd pay by calling the course directly. A round of golf on the weekend costs me around $25 for 18 holes and a cart, plus a $2 booking fee. Retired Mustachians who are able to play during the week can get ridiculously low prices, at least here in North Carolina.

Come prepared with a fully-stocked bag. Nothing worse than paying $12 for 3 Titleist Pro V1 at the pro shop because thatís all they have left. Buy found balls online http://www.lostgolfballs.com/ or you know, fix your slice and stop losing them.

What are your tips?

4_shore

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2012, 01:48:47 PM »
I just wanted to say great post before you get clobbered by those with larger stashes saying that you should convert to a pass time that is free in stead of cheap. Plus like you mentioned although golf can be expensive the cost per hour of entertainment can be cheap if done right.
Oh and Walmart has begun selling used bags of golf balls for super cheap. There are some in worse shape than others but you can always substitute a really worn ball when you are hitting a shot that has a higher potential for getting lost like and approach over water.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2012, 02:30:43 PM »
You may also get pummeled by the eco crowd as golf course management is about as environmentally unfriendly as you can get with the ridiculous amount of chemicals and water that is used.

I hardly ever play but do enjoy it with friends every now and again, it so extremely frustrating and at the same time rewarding as it really is the perfect game to challenge yourself as an individual because you are really only competing against yourself. 

I second golfnow.com, I have played on some expensive courses at dirt cheap rates. 

Paul der Krake

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2012, 04:20:19 PM »
Oh and Walmart has begun selling used bags of golf balls for super cheap. There are some in worse shape than others but you can always substitute a really worn ball when you are hitting a shot that has a higher potential for getting lost like and approach over water.

These days, I tend to come back from the course with more balls in my bag. As kids, my brother and I would sometimes forego one hole on the course and spend the time looking for lost balls to fill our treasure chest. Ironically, people who lose their balls tend to use expensive models which means I am currently sitting on a stash of high quality balls large enough to allow me to never purchase balls ever again.

You may also get pummeled by the eco crowd as golf course management is about as environmentally unfriendly as you can get with the ridiculous amount of chemicals and water that is used.

Agreed. Arizona has an unreal number of courses which will let you play for a handful of dollars in the summer just because it's so hard to play in the heat. They make bank in the winter months though.

StetsTerhune

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2012, 06:24:29 AM »
Obviously, we're all in different places physically and it's not an option for everyone. But don't get a cart!!! Adding 5 miles or so of walking makes thing so much more enjoyable, better for you, and cheaper.

The old quote "Golf is a good walk spoiled" has a lot less ring to it if it's "a slow drive, 4 hour drive in a miniature car spoiled."

gooki

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 01:58:49 AM »
I'm contemplating getting into golf. There a course just down the road from our office, and a 2 hour lunch break sounds appealing. I just can't justify the $1,000 a year membership fee.

2WheelPilot

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2012, 06:49:25 PM »
But don't get a cart!!!
+1.  In keeping with MMM's tenet of "Muscle Over Money", we should all know that Mustachian golf is not played from a cart.

I have a couple of other ideas for cheap golf and/or practice.  One, plastic practice balls.  They work great for practice with any shot off a tee.  Fairway irons don't work as well because the plastic ball sits up too high, making the shot too easy.  They fly maybe 100ft with a driver.  Many people have enough yard to use them.  I can do ALL my driver and long iron tee shot practice in my back yard.  If you don't have enough yard, or no yard, go to a local park.  When I first tried them, I was surprised at how accurately the plastic balls mimicked the behavior of a real ball.  I.e, you can see if you hit it high, low, hook, slice, etc.

Another cheap option is the par 3 course.  I came across one of those recently on vacation, and gave it a try.  I hadn't played one of those in probably 20 yrs.  I quite enjoyed it.  Yes, it wasn't like a "real" course, but a cheap green fee was good for all day.  I could play until my arms fell off, which didn't happen since I wasn't swinging hard.

savingtofreedom

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2012, 08:24:43 PM »
Thanks, I will share this information with my husband.  He used to play at a fairly cheap public course but this golfnow.com sounds intriguing.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2012, 08:41:17 PM »
@2WheelPilot: is this the kind of ball you're referring to?

http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12798965&cp=4406646.4413989.4414132

Looks amazing, why have I never come across these before?! I have an old rug that mimicks grass pretty well. I'll be sure to pick up a bag at my next trip to store.

Jamesqf

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2012, 10:05:26 PM »
This may be heresy to some of you, but if you're interested in cheap golf, why not dispense with the course?  Find a stretch of land - cow pasture, beach, national forest, whatever - pick some targets for your "holes", and have at it. 

You could even come up with interesting variations, as for instance having to run a course while shooting (like the Olympic biathlon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biathlon ), and your score combines time and strokes.  Or geo-golf (like geocaching): you have a set of GPS coordinates and have to get the ball to them...

velocistar237

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2012, 11:29:28 AM »
This may be heresy to some of you, but if you're interested in cheap golf, why not dispense with the course?  Find a stretch of land - cow pasture, beach, national forest, whatever - pick some targets for your "holes", and have at it.

This works well for disc golf, which can be a very cheap activity. There are a lot of home-made basket designs out there.

2WheelPilot

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Re: Golf on the cheap
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2012, 06:07:13 AM »
@2WheelPilot: is this the kind of ball you're referring to?

http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12798965&cp=4406646.4413989.4414132

Looks amazing, why have I never come across these before?! I have an old rug that mimicks grass pretty well. I'll be sure to pick up a bag at my next trip to store.
Yes, that's it.