A Guide to Saving Money on Golf

By: Ben Anton

You don't think you can swing your country club fees anymore, yet you still want to swing that iron. No problem! Golfing on a budget is achievable; it just requires legwork and flexibility. Here are five tips for golfing on a budget:

1. Forget country, go municipal
Municipal golf courses don't offer all of the extra amenities that come with club membership, but they do provide an inexpensive place to practice, play, and meet new people. Since they are open to the public, city courses don't charge membership fees. If you live in a large city, chances are there is at least one or two public golf courses near you.

For instance, New Yorkers can enjoy the Spook Rock Municipal Golf course. Golf Digest ranked Spook Rock as the 10th best public course in New York and one of the most affordable golf courses in the country. With green fees starting at just $18 for residents and $11 for seniors, Spook Rock offers a thrifty way for New York's golfing enthusiasts to practice their passion.

2. Play during the week
Weekend fees are higher than Monday through Thursday rates. If you're not keen about crowded courses anyway, why not change your playing days to take advantage of the lower fees?

3. Play twilight golf
Twilight simply refers to unusual tee-off times. Generally, twilight rates begin after 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm, and are significantly lower than morning rates. Be aware that twilight rates typically change according to whether it is a weekday or a weekend—weekdays twilight hours are usually less expensive.

4. Use coupons, discount cards and senior citizen rates
Golf coupons and deals are out there, but it may require some work to find them. During the spring and fall, courses often extend special offers for seniors. With the economy where it is, we can expect these discounts to be made available during the peak summer months as well at some courses. Seniors should also inquire whether clubs offer special discounts for their age group.

5. Book online and in advance
Some golf courses have online specials and will offer you discounts if you book in advance. Some golf courses will also extend a generous discount after you have booked five times. To save even more, opt to sign up for clubs' e-newsletters, which often contain information on discounted fees and special promotions.

6. Used golf clubs and accessories
New golf equipment can be prohibitively expensive. Save money by playing with used golf clubs and accessories, especially if you're relatively new at the game. Start with old clubs and master your strokes first before you go for top-of-the-line golf clubs. Most clubs have bulletin boards with postings from players who want to sell their old clubs. Other resources for finding good used equipment include community centers, classified ads, and online auction sites like eBay.

7. Work part-time at a golf club
Working at a club - even on a part-time basis - can save you precious dollars on course fees. Putting in a few hours as a course monitor, instructor, or salesperson in the pro shop will help you earn a little green and employee discounts.

~Ben Anton, 2009

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Ben Anton lives in Portland, OR. Read more about repowering from the experts on golf cart small engines at the Repower Specialists site for Kohler, Honda and Toro engine rebuild kits.

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