Golfing on a Budget

Golf has long been associated with having both time and money. While the sport has seen a rise in popularity among younger players, finding cost-effective ways to continually enjoy the hobby and improve on your game can be challenging. The stigma of golf being reserved for the wealthy and retired or as a once-a-summer outing to celebrate a bachelor party does not have to limit your interest and involvement in the game.

For starters, shopping for used clubs is among the easiest of ways to save big on golf. When I took up golfing at age 13, I purchased a used set of 1966 Johnny Palmer Tournament clubs for $22 with a bag. Granted, the true wooden-head driver and 3-wood along with narrow bladed irons were decades behind the modern clubs, it was a way to get me on the course. I walked along the rough to find missing golf balls or, in a pinch, used a few range balls to make it through a round. Riding a cart was both a luxury and a rarity for me.

After graduating high school and losing my opportunity for complimentary golf at the local course as a member of the school team, I found myself distanced from the game largely because of the cost to play.

However, in recent years my love for the game has been rekindled, in part by finding affordable opportunities to play. Here are some tips that I use to continue playing golf on a reasonable budget.

  • Twilight rates:  Most Door County public golf courses offer discounted rates starting after 2-4 pm with unlimited golf. If your schedule permits, this will allow you to save big. Courses are often less crowded in the evenings. That allows for smooth play and equates to saving both time and money.
  • Walking vs riding:  An easy way to cut the cost of a round of golf nearly in half is to walk. Whether it be with a push or pull-cart, or carrying your own clubs, walking during a round of golf brings significant health benefits. In fact, recent studies show that an average golfer burns more than 1,400 calories by walking 18-holes. Golfers often perform better when walking than when using a motorized cart, allowing you to enjoy the scenery, collect your thoughts, and play on as the linksman of the early game did.
  • Support your local school athletic teams by purchasing fundraising discount cards that include 2-for-1 green fee offers. The Door County Shopping Show also offers certificates for up to 50 percent off green fees for participating courses.
  • Youths and seniors:  Many courses offer discounts for junior golfers with some that offer complimentary rounds for youths with a paid adult. Seniors can also take advantage of discounted rates.
  • Playing out-of-season:  Playing in the fall and spring is a great way to fit in a few extra rounds at a discounted rate, weather-permitting.
  • Deals and specials:  The easiest way to find deals is to simply call the golf course and ask about current specials or check their Facebook pages for unique promotions.

A line from my favorite golf film, The Legend of Bagger Vance, is, “Golf is a game that can’t be won, only played.” So, I encourage you to play on, affordably.


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