My nephew is about to retire, and he says that although he loves to play golf, it is far too expensive for him to do on a retiree’s budget. Unfortunately, he feels that it is a “rich man’s sport.” At 75, we have to believe that our richness is in years, and in savvy. If you do believe that, you can find ways to make this game of Golf much more affordable.
Let’s start with a statistic (probably Golf Digest…but you tell me): the average golfer now spends $2,700 a year. Given, that is not a figure that recommends itself to the homeless, but on the other hand, people can spend that much or a lot more on boating, skiing, tennis, multiple vacations, or generous Christmas gifts. So before we decide golf is too expensive, let’s say “compared with what – and what level of that what?” Golf trips with all your clubs to Saint Andrews famous course in Scotland could indeed cost you a few dollars (or pounds). But that is not a required level for your golf at all. Much joy can be had on a simple municipal course.
So, if you’ve decided that a little golf might not be totally out of budget for you, let’s start on the American trait of “cost-whittling”.
Time of day: First of all, if you are retired, you can choose your time of day at public courses. The cost usually reflects peak times and goes down from there. For instance, Saturday at 10am will be the most popular tee time. Almost all courses offer discounted rounds to the general public on certain days of the week or times of day. (Ordinary rich golfers DO have to work except for the most popular times…a sad but true fact).
Your equipment: As I have mentioned in a few posts, at the Goodwill or other second hand stores, you can find a carry-bag and 4 or 5 adequate clubs you need to start for way under $40. Then later add better individual clubs — or even 3 or 4 year old full sets — that you find online for astronomically less than their new price. You should be able to find decent balls for a dollar each. A dirty little secret: Most experienced golfers use only about 7-8 clubs maximum each round, because they discover what works best for them.
Your Age: Almost all courses have a 25-30% discounts for Seniors, but many offer 50% off to Super Seniors over 75. You might say the older you are the cheaper golf becomes. Why should juniors have all the benefits of age? After all, you’ll probably be old longer than they are young.
Trade Volunteer Work: The one special currency that golf course managers have is the ability to grant free rounds to Volunteers. Here’s a notice at one course looking for volunteers. I asked if free courses were given to volunteers who do certain amounts of work, and they said of course.
One very important consideration is that golf courses are small businesses in themselves. You have free time and perhaps some skills they need; they have a golf course they can let you use in exchange. (You’ll have to admit there is potential here.) As in most small businesses, they have limited needs for special skills, and they cannot afford either to employ staff for those small jobs, or pay market rates for part time employees. For instance, if you have been an accountant and can help during tax time, you might get a few rounds as payment.
It comes down to your own creativity and your own moxie. These gifts of yours don’t have to wither with older age. You have the idea and you negotiate the deal. Be entrepreneurial. One short trek through brushy or swampy areas will reveal many excellent quality balls that are too remote for rich golfers to thrash and slog just to get their errant ball. Golf shops can resell these for $1 apiece. They could structure a way for you to bring in these balls for a quarter, or for rounds of golf. It may mean that you have to fight rattlesnakes in the scrub brush on desert courses, but at least these creatures will not discriminate on the basis of your age.
Copyright 2019 — David Hon