Updated on 08.08.07

Ten Ways That I Save Money Golfing

Trent Hamm

ballI admit to deeply enjoying a good round of golf, even though I rarely find time to play as much as I would like. The biggest drawback with the hobby, though, is expense – something that’s troubled me often. Here’s how I minimize the expense of playing golf.

I only bought an inexpensive starter set of clubs I didn’t feel the need to go out and buy an expensive set of clubs right off the bat, so I instead purchased a very low-end starter set. This works functionally for me (though the clubs are a bit short for my height) and allows me to enjoy a round of golf with my friends quite easily.

I ask for club upgrades as gifts. I’m slowly upgrading the set, however, a club at a time. A new club is a great gift for me; about once a year, my wife goes to the golf shop with me where I try out a bunch of clubs and settle on one replacement for my inexpensive set. This provides a series of gifts for me for a long, long time.

I also ask for golf balls as gifts. This is a favorite gift from my mother and father-in-law, who often buy me several boxes of balls for Christmas. I can usually make that box last the whole summer.

I carry a golf ball retriever. I used to regularly lose balls in the deep rough or in the water, but since I started carrying a golf ball retriever, I’ve probably fished back twenty balls that I would have never been able to reach. This has saved money on ball purchases.

I carry my own clubs. No golf cart for me; I toss the bag on my back and carry it. It can sometimes be a workout, but if you’re out there in the outdoors playing a sport, shouldn’t you be getting in a bit of shape at least?

I practice at the driving range. It’s pretty easy to find cheap jumbo buckets of balls at a local driving range (often for free) and I can easily spend an hour hitting a big bucket of these balls using various clubs. The best place to look is in the sports pages of local newspapers – you can quite often find coupons for reduced prices. Also, many ranges around here have punch cards which can result in a free bucket after a while. I can easily burn two hours at a driving range on two jumbo buckets and only spend a total of $6 or so.

I practice my short game in the back yard. This is where I practice short chipping and such. I just replace any divots I make (usually I don’t make any) and I can usually burn an hour in the backyard doing this. I’ve actually reached a point where my short game is good – get me within 50 yards of the hole and I’m pretty confident I can be in the hole in two strokes (unless there’s something really tricky). I generally don’t practice my putting there; I’ll do this on cement if I do it at all.

I appreciate inexpensive local public courses. There are a few public courses near here that are very inexpensive. Some of the people I know who golf frown on them, but I have just as much fun there as I do elsewhere – often more fun, because the environment is much more laid back (I’m not being hounded by a self-centered busy professional yelling at me to hurry up or anything). This trims a ton of fat from my budget.

I play with friends. Golfing is actually one of the less expensive activities I can do with friends, provided that we go to a local public course. We can usually burn three hours there, far cheaper than most other activities we might do as a group that take three hours (and far less likely to make my wife roll her eyes, too). My wife plays as well and we used to regularly play as a twosome before our son (i.e., my future caddy) was born.

I don’t get competitive. This is the biggest thing. Many of the other golfers I know try really hard to out-compete each other with expensive clubs and balls and shoes and such. I am pretty content to compliment the clubs, maybe try one out, and shrug my shoulders at most of it. I have no need for a $3,000 set of golf clubs and I’m completely comfortable with that.

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  1. Kenny says:

    I am forwarding this post to my mother-in-law.

  2. Seth Miller says:

    I’d been meaning to ask if you’ve tried disc (frisbee) golf? it is a very cheap alternative to ball golf and is a quickly growing sport

  3. Eric says:

    I’d add two things from what I, personally, do:

    1) Encourage friends and family to give you gift cards to rounds for gifts
    2) Golf is make or break in putting. Go out somewhere, a back yard, a field, or anywhere and just practice putting. You don’t always need a hole. You can use a rubber jar opener, or some cloth and just practice your lines from a distance.

  4. Dave Kuck says:

    I would echo Seth Miller. Disc golf is a great sport that has much of the fun aspects of golf (time with friends, outdoors, etc.) but is easier to learn and is tons cheaper.
    You can get a disc at wal-mart (you really only need one disc when you start out) for less than $10 and there are no green fees on the vast majority of courses. Check out http://pdga.com/ for more info and to see if there are courses nearby!

  5. DrBdan says:

    Another cheap way to get golf balls is to buy them from the side of the road. Often people who live by a golf course will collect up all of the balls that land in their yard and then sell them. You can usually get a good deal this way and the balls are still in good shape. Of course this depends on being able to find one of those people.

  6. Torrey says:

    Trent I’m right with you. I began golfing in May and waited so late because I thought it was expensive. Your tips are right on!

  7. Dan says:

    Another source of cheap balls are the bags of manufacturing rejects (“x outs”) you can sometimes find at large stores. They’re removed from normal distribution because they might be slightly off in weight or other specifications (or even may just have small cosmetic defects) which mean they’re not tournament legal–but most casual golfers probably don’t mind. They’re usually marked with several Xs over or near the brand imprint.

  8. Ryan says:

    great idea for a post! this could be a recurring series – how to make expensive hobbies cheap.

  9. What about bringing your own drink and snacks (if they let you)? If you can manage it, get into a couple work sponsored events as well. The company and the club give out a lot of free stuff if you don’t mind walking around with a logo on your free stuff.

  10. Minimum Wage says:

    I save a ton of money by NOT golfing. ;)

  11. Ty says:

    Free driving range? Where? The only time I’ve hit free balls at a driving range are at tournaments where I already spent too much money to play golf (usually for a good cause though) and after hours picking up my own balls (which is trespassing).

  12. Being that I’m golfing again this week for the first time in quite a while, these tips are going to come in quite handy.

  13. Classical Canadian says:

    Here are three ways that I save money on golf:

    I buy clubs on e-bay. I just got a shipment from Rockbottom golf that cost less than $10 per club to use as Christmas presents.

    I buy used balls – knetgolf.com is a good source of quality balls for $1 each or less, I go in with friends to buy over $100 worth at once and get free shipping.

    I buy a golf discount book – here in Canada there are a number of them. The Lung Association one that I have has given me savings in the form of 2 for 1 green fees, free cart rentals and 2 for 1 driving range buckets.

    I love your blog – always something interesting from saving money on golf to doing things as a family to book reviews. Keep up the good work!

  14. Didn’t realize there were so many disc golf fans here on TSD! Been playing for several years now and love it =)

  15. RDmar says:

    Look at your state PGA association to see if they have discount books. The Iowa PGA has a $39 book that repays itself many times over at courses across the Midwest.

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