Golfing on the Cheap

Let’s face it, golf is an expensive sport.  The cost of a decent set of clubs can easily run into the thousands, green fees are super expensive, and even the clothing can run up a bill.  Personally, as a super cheap teenager that has no money, I have to improvise and find ways to save while playing the world’s most expensive sport.

I’m at the golf course every day, and I see an array of people that have the most up-to-date equipment, expensive golf style clothing, and a $50 tee time.  Well.  I’d bet another thing they have is an empty wallet!!  What I don’t understand is why people spend so much money on golf when it is definitely not a necessity.  Unless you compete for a team, like me, you shouldn’t be wasting all of your money on golf when it can go toward groceries, your mortgage, and many other more important things.

Let me elaborate once more that I play golf competitively on a high school team.  This would give me the right to blow all my money on everything related to this sport right?  No.  Here’s a confession.  I have not once paid full price for a round of golf, and I play on average two times a week.  At my home course, Mile Square, if I were to pay for a round twice a week at full price, the cost would be almost $100.  I pay only $10.

I don’t even want to know how much this guy’s outfit costs.

So since I play on a golf team, I must have to spend hundreds on exquisite, branded polo shirts and other business style attire.  Wrong.  Personally, I think I look just as sexy in my $8 polo shirt from H&M and $25 pants from Express.

Oh, but I must have an expensive set of golf clubs!  After all, cheap clubs will ruin my game, right?  Haha.  Here’s some wisdom from the wise, future-PGA professional Ryan.  IT IS NOT THE CLUBS, IT’S THE GOLFER.  That’s right.  It doesn’t matter if you spend $20 or $2,000 on a club, you should still be able to play just as consistently.  I’ll admit, I do have a fairly good set of golf clubs, but I saved almost $800 on them.

The CEO of Taylormade Golf, Mark King, said “I have a hard job.  I have to get people to spend money every year on a new toy that they don’t need!”  The golf industry is very good at what they do, since no matter how high they raise their prices, people will still continue to play at record numbers.  Trust me, if you are spending more than $70 a month on this sport, you should seriously go over the books and make some changes.  I’ll show you how.

There is a great discount for southern-California minors who meet this criteria:

-Under the age of 18SCGAYOC

-Reside in southern California

-Know the rules and regulations of golf

This discount, offered by the Southern California Golf Association, allows for $1-$5 green fees at many local public and private courses.  Imagine playing golf for only $1.  You can also hit on the range for less than $2.  Now is that a deal or what??  If you meet this criteria, click on this link below to sign up.  There is a yearly fee of $50, but once you’ve played 2 rounds of golf you’ve already saved a boatload of money.

The program is called Youth on Course, and it’s how I am able to afford to play this great sport!

http://www.scga.org/youth-on-course

Now, if you are an adult and/or don’t live in southern-California, trust me, there are plenty of ways to save no matter where you are.  Don’t always book through the course when you want to go out and play.  Search on websites such as GolfNow and Groupon.  Look for the “Hot Deals” on GolfNow as they are usually very cheap.  Booking online is the best way to save.

Another way to save money is to check your course for specials they may have going on.  During the summer, my father and I played twice a week at one course that was offering a rate of only $5 after 5:00PM.  It was a great deal considering the sun didn’t go down until past 8:00 and we were usually able to get 18 holes in.

There are even more alternative ways to save!  When you can, WALK and don’t ride in a cart!  It’s a wonderful way to exercise and most of all SAVE MONEY.  It can prolong your round and I find that I score more consistently walking than riding.

When you can, try playing in extreme or unfavorable weather.  Here’s a story.  I frequently visit Las Vegas along with my family, and one of the number one things I do up there is golf–in the summer.  “Oh but it’s 110 degrees in the summer over there!”  Yes it is, am I complaining that I can play on a luxury course that normally charges $65 for only $8?   Now this would be an instance where you’d have to ride in a cart, if you don’t want to die of heat stroke, but it definitely beats paying full price!

My favorite Las Vegas course, Aliante Golf Club, where I literally play for free during the summer.

Using these tactics has allowed for me to play golf at many excellent courses, never once having to pay full price.  In fact, I think the most I’ve ever spent on a round of golf is $12.

Enough about green fees, time to move on to the most ridiculous cost of golf, the clothing.

If you’re on the course a lot, you notice a bunch of snotty people who try and act rich by buying $100 pants and $70 shirts just to swing a club a few times and drink with people they’ll never see again.  Now, it’s true that there is a certain golf attire that you should adhere to, and that is basically business casual.  A polo shirt and somewhat formal pants/shorts.  Now do you really have to spend $100 each on these things?  No.

You don’t have to buy Callaway or any other specialized golf clothing brand.  It is the exact same as any other clothes, yet the price is marked up super high because it’s related to golf.  There’s a reason that companies do this, and it’s simply because they can.  There ARE people out there who are willing to buy the ridiculously expensive shirt just because it has the Nike logo on it.  Look inside pro shops and see how much the average hat is going to cost you there.

Look at this propaganda advertising to the left.  A couple of happy golfers.  Is it the clothing that makes them happy?  Does it improve their golf game?  No.

My advice for this subject is short and sweet.  Buy what makes you look good, and be cheap about it.  Look for sales or lower-priced items.  Don’t be one of those suckers who spends more money on the clothing than they do the game.

Now on to the golf clubs!  These days, a “decent” set of golf clubs will cost you upwards of $800.  Ok, I get it, you want the latest equipment that Tiger Woods has just endorsed, right?  Remember my philosophy, it’s not the clubs, it’s the golfer.  I’ve seen time and time again where golfers blame their bad shots on their clubs, when in reality it’s their own fault.  Furthermore, they go out and blow some money on a set advertised to give you “50 more yards and more consistency,” yet there’s no difference in their swing and they still suck.

Ahh, the world’s most expensive golf clubs.

If you are still bent on purchasing top of the line clubs, here’s some subtle advice that will save you a few hundred dollars.  WAIT.  Don’t purchase new golf equipment at the beginning of the year, wait until the end.  This is when all of January’s equipment has to go and retailers offer it at deep discounts.  Seriously, sometimes prices are 50-70% off!

Another way to save money is to buy used.  Your clubs are designed to hit balls and be damaged by the ground, a little roughing up by someone else isn’t going to hurt your club’s performance.  Buying clubs used can save you a lot of money, and it won’t even matter what condition you bought it in the long run; only the fact that you saved $$!

Buy online!  eBay, Amazon, and many other places offer clubs at prices much lower than retail locations.  This is also where you will find a variety of used equipment as well.  However, while buying online, you should be very careful as there are many counterfeits and illegitimate equipment out there.  Always buy from experienced sellers and trusted locations.

For any golf accessories and extra equipment, always turn to the internet for that!  Bags, balls, tees, towels, you name it, you can find almost everything there at super cheap prices, and you normally don’t have to worry about counterfeit items when dealing with these items.

Below is my set of irons and my woods.  Compared to the original price of this set, I paid next to nothing.

Normally $400, I only paid $180 for this.

Here is my Taylormade R1 driver.  Arguably one of the most important clubs in a set, and probably the most expensive as well.  I used several combinations of the above tactics to get almost 60% off this club.  I first went on eBay and purchased this club, slightly used with an irregular shaft, for only $170.  When did I purchase it?  In late October, when the club model was getting old and its value was dropping.  Now this club did need some modifications, so when I received in the mail, I traded its irregular shaft for a normal one at my local golf shop.  This only set me back about $10.  Once everything was put together, I had an almost new $400 driver, that I had paid only $180 for.  

Normally $200, I paid only $50 for this club.

Here is my Taylormade 3-wood.  I bought it new on eBay for $50, once again in late October.  Do you know how much this thing normally costs?  Upwards of $200.  

Normally $600, I paid only $230 for these.

And finally, my beautiful Wilson Staff irons.  Normally priced at $600, I paid only $230 for these.  How?  I waited towards the end of the year to do so.

The combined original value of my set is $1,200.  How much did I pay for it?  $410.  I saved a whopping 76% by buying online, slightly used, and waiting until the end of the year.  Not to mention, I probably saved another $100 in sales tax by buying online!

It was very hard for me to justify spending $410, considering I am the one paying for this equipment, but I realized I will be using it for the next 5+ years.  People, there is NO reason to consistently upgrade your golf equipment!  Every year, companies advertise that you’ll get another 15+ yards and more perfect shots if you buy their product.  Well if that’s true, how come people aren’t hitting 1,000 yard drives and perfect, straight shots every time?  See what I’m saying?  Treat your golf clubs like a car, only upgrade every 5 or so years, if even that.

My father still uses his father’s clubs from the 1960s and they are just fine!!

So in conclusion, there is no excuse for you to be spending more than $70 a month on your golf habit.  I am at the course every single day and only pay, on average, $50 a month.  Don’t ball on clothing, look for discounts on green fees, and SAVE money on clubs!  If you’re under 18 I highly suggest you sign up for SCGA’s Youth on Course program, the link is above in this article.  This sport can get extremely expensive, but there are many ways to save money and make it less hard on your wallet.

ENJOY the sport and the savings along with it!

I will discuss the benefits of being frugal in my next article.  Enough of this, I’m off to the range!

-Ryan

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2 thoughts on “Golfing on the Cheap

  1. Dude, Ryan, your blog is awesome. This information is very useful for me, and hopefully to golfers everywhere reading this. Very informative and professional, I can’t wait tot see more great posts out of you. One of my favorite blogs so far.

  2. Kyle, thanks for the compliments! I frequently check out Dudeology and I LOVED your golf video on YouTube! It’s entertaining and funny looking at what you and Connor put online, I look forward to seeing more.

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