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Golf and the frugal lifestyle
Old 08-14-2012, 10:37 PM   #1
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Golf and the frugal lifestyle

I could have sworn i've seen threads on this topic, but a search result didn't yield anything I could see. I have just started getting back into golf in my mid thirties. I used to play all the time in my younger days, much of it for free as i worked at a golf course for six summers doing various stuff. Now that I'm getting back into it and living a relatively frugal lifestyle, I'm having difficulty reconciling playing golf and my goal of early retirement.

A round here at a decent course is $50 (even the municipal ones) - I prefer to walk but many courses require a cart at another $20 although I typically refuse to play at such courses. Golf equipment is very expensive although I've had good luck finding stuff used at 1/4th the original retail value in virtually new condition. I've assigned myself a $1000 per year golf budget (equipment, couple lessons, rounds, etc) which works out to about 5% of my total yearly expenditures. I live in CAnada so can only get about 5 good months of play in. Are there alot of other golfers on here? How often do you play and what are you spending each year?
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:38 AM   #2
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Golf is my one vice. I belong to a club and I pay $265/mo for dues and cart storage/trail fees. Sounds costly, but I play 15-18 rounds per month during good weather months. When I was your age, I played a course at our local Navy Base and it was cheap. Only played weekends.

As you said, you can only play a few months a year so $1k should do the job. You've got to have some fun, so I wouldn't worry about it. And that amount of money per year won't keep you from retiring.
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:53 AM   #3
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Golf is my obsession (some might say addiction).

Since i have FIRE'd in June - i have been playing at least once a week - the really high temps in the mid-atlantic have kept me from playing more.

So far I have not played more than $29 (including a cart), and most are $25. With discount books, groupon, and online specials it is great. And during the week it is easy get a round done in 4 hours or less. And no one gives you a problem about walking during the week.

SOme of these courses I play now used to be $60-$75 on the weekends.

I am not one who needs to have the latest and greatest clubs out- my current set of clubs is just fine.

As one of my departing gifts from the work place was a gift card for one of the big box golf stores. Probably can cover the golf balls, gloves ,etc requirements for a few years. I tend to play golf balls that cost $20-$25 a dozen. While those $45-$50 a box balls might play a little better I just can't handle seeing a $4 golf ball go in the woods or water.
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:56 AM   #4
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I play about twice/week. Golf is relatively cheap from may thru October in SW Florida. I pay about 40 bucks. The best way to play down here is to join a group that negotiates the fees. My Thursday league plays for 28 bucks and that rate is honored in the season as well.
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:57 AM   #5
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I play now and then but, if I really liked it, I would spend enough to play more often and at nicer courses. You need to enjoy yourself while saving for ER.
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:09 AM   #6
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All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

I'm a fanatic (4-6 rounds per week) as I love the competition, being outside and the walking. Yes it isn't the cheapest endeavor but there are ways to cut the costs which you obviously have found. One you might add....practice at a range instead of playing the course. Better yet, collect enough old ratty balls and just go to the local park and chip and pitch.

When you retire you'll be happy that you have a life long hobby that will chew up four hours a day....and if you practice now you'll be all that much happier playing down the road.
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:51 AM   #7
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I play a lot. I spend about $6,000 a year. Probably more, but that's about what show's up on my monthly's at the club. But I played in a pro am one time that cost $4,000 for two rounds of golf, but my former boss paid for that.

I play around 3-5 times a week, belong to a private club, and generally go on one trip in the winter. I don't buy new clubs that often, most of my clubs are 4 years old, some are 7.

I would say that back in my working days golf was a plus as I was playing in several work related golf outings. I met many people that I otherwise would not have come in contact with or at least not in this manner. Now that I'm retired I still meet many people that I would not otherwise have come in contact with. And I just honestly enjoy it.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:17 AM   #8
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Back in my early teen years in Hawaii (in the early 1960's), I used to play golf frequently on a nearby par 3 course. I would imagine that these smaller courses would be cheaper than the large ones. Back then my brothers and I used to walk the par 3 course together, and rarely if ever saw motorized carts.

Golf has sure increased in price in the past 50 years, from what I understand. Actually I don't play golf at all any more, not because of the money but because (as I understand it) apparently you have to use a motorized cart in order to play golf these days. To me, the attraction of golf is the healthy walking. I find the whole idea of using a motorized cart is unappealing.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:42 AM   #9
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My golf has changed a lot in the last 15 years. When I moved to this area, I joined a private club and was playing three days a week; Mon, Wed and Fri. Never have played on weekends. Some of my best golf buddies started to leave the club due to costs and I left also after belonging for 8 years. That was in 2006. I had moved further away from the club and it was taking me about 40 minutes drive time. That was partially the reason I started to play less and it went down to two days per week. At that time I didn't even have to do the money calculation as I had done that when I was playing three times per week. At three times per week a round of golf was costing me $48 which included club dues, cart and lunch as we had a restaurant minimum. If I went to playing twice a week a round would cost $56. The end result was that I just couldn't justify the cost.

I joined up with my old golf buddies in 2006, we play different courses every week and pay on average $26 a round. I'm down to one day of golf per week so the cost is minimal. The rest of the group still plays two or three times but their cost has been reduced a lot compared to the private club.

I now live on a private golf course but won't join because I would only play once a week and couldn't justify the cost. We did join with a social membership and utilize the club facilities and dining room but not golf. Overall, I've reduced my golf and the expenses from $6000 a year in 2006 to maybe $1500 per year.
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:26 PM   #10
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I found that the local golf courses offer deals for playing during off-peak times. For example, in my area the courses fill up around the 8:00 hour. As an early bird special they offer a better price. If you tee off by 7:00 it's only $1/hole. Same holds true for late afternoon with just enough daylight left to get a round in.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:52 PM   #11
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We have a golf/ski/fitness center package for about $3400/yr. I can walk with no additional charge after 4:30 weekdays, otherwise I have to pay for a cart, which I think is $18 for 9 holes, $25 for 18. I walk except when invited to play with friends on some weekends, partly because I enjoy walking more, and partly to avoid the cart fee. I'm paid for next year, but our resort just got bought out so after that I'll have to wait and see what the new plan is. I may just go with the $300 mid week ski pass and pay for golf as I play and hit some of the cheaper public courses sometimes, and use my Crossmax at home. The fitness center has been nice to use while rehabbing my knee, but I rarely used it before this year since mostly I just get out and run.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:24 PM   #12
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Getting back to the original poster, I was surprised to see that you would consider $50 per round a normal charge even on a muni. Again, it depends on where you are but we would never spend that for a round of golf. I'll take that back, we have done that on an exclusive course where lunch was included. We're in Florida and in the summer, hot and humid, golf courses mostly empty they are begging you to play their course. We play one really nice course that charges $20/round, they punch a card and it's "pay for six and the seventh is free". You can't beat that price. Come Oct 1st when the snowbirds (Canadians and other northerners) get back down here the price goes up. Same course is then $30-$35.

There are also a lot of "golf cards" out there where for more money, you can play the premium courses for reduced rates in the summer. Some people just want to play the best courses. To each his own.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:56 PM   #13
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Canada may be different, but where I am at competition for the golf dollar is pretty good. I am a mon-fri member and pay $800 a year which includes cart. I play a couple times a week. As much as I like golf, there is no way I would pay $50 for a round unless it was a special occasion type thing. Golf balls are cheap for me. I always leave with more golf balls than I start with. I know where to look. My bag is so full of them, I am going to have shed some because the bag is too heavy to drag around with all the golf balls I have.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:16 PM   #14
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I belong to a club now but I know what's it like trying to play and practice on a limited budget.

I would definitely look into twilight and early bird specials at your local muni. I would also check into year long or seasonal memberships. They may actually be cheaper for you if you play a lot.

EBay is great for clubs and equipment, just be careful who you buy from.

Learn how to change your own grips/shafts.

I installed an indoor hitting area in my house so I don't spend as much time on the range and it's great in the winter.

I agree that $50 a round with mandatory carts is on the steep side.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:21 PM   #15
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Oh. One more thing. Forget the lessons. If you have been playing a while, you probably know the basics already.

Check out Shawn Clement on YouTube. Great free lessons. A lot of other great stuff online for free.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:39 PM   #16
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Just remember, RE is a goal, but it doesn't make sense to not enjoy life - you could get run over by a beer truck tomorrow.

I have been playing much more since I REd last December. I joined a local club for the first time since the kids were little and play ~3 times a week (sometimes 9, sometimes 18) vs at best a couple times a month before retiring. Also, just recently splurged on new equipment (my old stick were 15-20 years old).

As another poster observed, in our area there are many deals to be had (too many golf courses and not enough golfers, so competition is keen). I have a travel group that I play with on Thursdays at courses within an hour's drive and we typically pay $25 to $35 a round with a cart.
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Old 08-15-2012, 07:34 PM   #17
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I'm a member of a club and pay $239/month, usually play 3-4 times a week. Do any of the online golf reservation services (golfnow, ezlinks, etc.) operated in your area? I use them when I travel to Scottsdale AZ (2-3 times a year) and save at least 50% off of the regular rates. Just need to be flexible on when and where your willing to play. Once you get a good set of clubs stick with them. There's not enough improvement in clubs from one year to the next to justify buying a new set. My last iron set lasted 11 years and the only reason why I changed was because the grooves were worn out and all the dings from playing desert golf.
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Old 08-15-2012, 07:45 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNNIE36 View Post
Getting back to the original poster, I was surprised to see that you would consider $50 per round a normal charge even on a muni. Again, it depends on where you are but we would never spend that for a round of golf. I'll take that back, we have done that on an exclusive course where lunch was included. We're in Florida and in the summer, hot and humid, golf courses mostly empty they are begging you to play their course. We play one really nice course that charges $20/round, they punch a card and it's "pay for six and the seventh is free". You can't beat that price. Come Oct 1st when the snowbirds (Canadians and other northerners) get back down here the price goes up. Same course is then $30-$35.

There are also a lot of "golf cards" out there where for more money, you can play the premium courses for reduced rates in the summer. Some people just want to play the best courses. To each his own.
I live in what is a relatively expensive place for housing, groceries and everything else including golf. That is the downside, but the upside is a strong economy and good wages. McDonald's pays about $12 per hour here last I heard. Six figure incomes are pretty common here. This is in Northern-ish Alberta.

I do have coupon books however they are generally 2 for 1 rounds and I've lost all my golf buddies due to not playing for so long so those don't work for me and unfortunately I can only play during peak hours. As for clubs I've bought all mine used. Only recent itch is to convert 3 to 5 irons to hybrids. Once that is done, no more clubs for a long time. I'm also a range rat so alot of times can get my fix by hitting a bucket of balls. I love the technical aspect of the swing so don't always need to hit a golf course.
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:27 AM   #19
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My golf group has a lot of Canadian friends that join us when they are down here. A few are fulltime snowbirds (own a place here) and some fly in from time to time and always join in with our group. Good group of guys and all are from the Toronto area. Everything is more expensive in Canada so when they are here they think they died and went to heaven.
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