Budget Golf: How to Start Golfing for Under $50 A Month (2021)
Updated: Mar 31
Golf…. The first thought that comes to mind is Tiger Woods winning the Masters in beautiful Augusta, Georgia while playing with his iconic Nike branded golf ball. No one typically thinks about a bunch of Average Joes, looking for their balls in the fairway/rough/woods, having a couple beers, and smoking cigars. But the beautiful part of the game is: golf encompasses both aspects!
Unfortunately, the sport has gained a bad rap due to the large amount of investment needed to play. This has hindered the Average Joes from enjoying the sport. That is why I started to specialize in budget golf. With that being set up on the tee, what if I told you that you can start golfing for less than $50 per month? You would think I was crazy! Well, that is still on the table…. but it is possible! Let me show you how.
Golf Clubs and a Bag
By far, this is the largest investment to start golfing. Golf clubs (if taken care of) will last almost a lifetime. Unfortunately, modern day products do not last like they used too. I personally still have a set of wooden woods, from the 80s, in my attic, and they are perfectly good to play with! But to get back on track…
When people think about golf clubs, they are looking at the Callaways, Titleists, Taylormades, i.e., the brands that cost anywhere from $250-500 bucks a club. Which brings onto my first complaint about golf clubs…. You can spend thousands of dollars on a set of golf clubs, and that doesn’t guarantee they will better your game! To me, that’s insane!
When planning for budget golf, you can easily find a FULL SET OF CLUBS (driver, fairway woods, 5-6 irons, and a putter) for $150-300. Doesn’t that sound like a deal! Personally, I would recommend the Callaway Strata set. This set comes with driver, 3 wood, 5 hybrid, 6-9 iron, pitching wedge, putter, and self-standing bag; and it costs $300 (Price as of 2/14/21 at 1:30 PM). One of my buddies and myself started using this a couple years ago, and they worked great!
The irons by far were the best part of the set. My buddy is still using his irons, and it’s now 6 years later! The driver and fairway woods did an excellent job! Unfortunately, the life expectancy on them was not adequate (3-4 yrs), but that’s because we were exceeding the design capabilities of the clubs. BEGINNERS TIP: it’s extremely unfortunate, but one thing you will learn along the way. The harder/faster you hit, the stiffer the shaft needed. This typically means a more expensive club…
Budget Cost Calculation -- $300 over 48 months = $6.25 per month
Next up, golf balls! Golf balls are the second item needed that could put a dent in the budget. Fortunately, there are ways around this (for more ways than one). The best and most consistent option is purchasing rewashed or refurbished golf balls. Both are recycled balls; so they are already cheaper than the virgin product. There is a slight difference between them though. Rewashed golf balls are what the name states; they are recycled golf balls that were washed and repackaged. Refurbished golf balls tell a different story. Typically they are stripped of the outer layer material, recoated, repainted, and then repackaged.
GOLF BALL TIP #1: Be aware of the balls you receive. Refurbished balls typically have a harder coat than the virgin balls so they will not have the same performance. This will be explained more in my next blog where I will go in depth golf balls, and grade a group of balls based on performance and budgetary value. GOLF BALL TIP #2: If purchasing rewashed balls, be cautious of the coating as well. Some companies do mix and match virgin balls and refurbished balls under the “rewashed” brand. An easy test to tell is to hit 2 balls together. If they have a hollow sound, they will be soft shelled. If they have a louder sound, they are hard shelled. You can also tell by rubbing your thumb on them. If your thumb grips the ball, its soft shelled; if the thumb slips, it’s a hard-shelled golf ball.
I’ll be blunt and honest… The best deal for a golfer’s budget, and the best experience, comes from
Walmart. You can get 48 balls (variety of brands, coatings, colors, etc.) for $15. You can’t beat the price! Each pack has a spread of all brands (Titleist, Callaway, Bridgestone, Wilson, etc.) ranging from a Pro V1 to a Top-Flite stock ball. If done correctly, you can learn a lot about your game. For example, my first 3 years of golfing, I separated the balls that came in the bags by brand and by shell hardness. After playing round after round, I found out that my swing works better with the softer balls; Pro V1, Chrome Soft, TP5, etc. Since my start in the game, I have learned to budget for rewashed Titleist Pro V1’s (1 dz is $15). So test the balls you got and find your fit! Not only will that help your score, but it’ll also help your budget for the future.
Budget Cost Calculation -- $15 per playable months; 7 playable months per year (thank you PA….) = $8.75 per month
Next on the list of equipment to budget for, tees. Tees come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. The most common is the 2.75” classic wooden tee. From a price perspective, these are dirt-cheap (about 200 tees for $7). If it was that simple the topic would end now, but I’m sorry, it’s not. My biggest complaint with wooden tees is the life. No joke, I have gone through 18 tees playing one 18 hole round of golf. That doesn’t sound too appealing to golfer, does it? My personal recommendation, Zero Friction has developed and manufactured a plastic golf tee that exceeds the life of a wooden tee 20 fold!
I bought a pack of 40 tees from them 2 years ago, and I just refilled my back this year after playing a round of golf every weekend during the golf season. I have had a single tee last me about 24 holes! ACCIDENTAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE: ZF does make 2 types of tees, a 5-prong and a 3-prong design. I made the mistake of purchasing one of each. The 5-prong design is excellent in all aspects of the game! Consistent drives, ease of ball balance/placement, etc. The 3-prong does serve a purpose though. I personally struggled driving off these tees, and getting the ball to sit still/balanced. Fortunately, when you put the tee deeper into the ground for an iron shot (par 3’s), these work perfectly! This is where I have had my best success with the 3-prongs. (Price as of 2/14/21 at 1:30 PM)
Budget Cost Calculation -- $13.96 per playable months; 24 month pack life expectancy and 7 playable months per year = $0.34 per month
I will make this section short and sweet. The last four (or three) pieces of equipment needed to play golf are an iron brush, towel, divot tool, and ball marker. The iron brush can be found at your local sporting good store for as low as $7, and you can get a bath towel from Walmart for $8, cut it in half, and clip it to your bag using a $1 climber hook in the outdoors section. Finally, I personally prefer the divot tool with a ball marker magnetically attached. I also love the switchblade design as well, making the total cost around $12. (Price as of 2/14/21 at 1:30 PM)
Budget Cost Calculation -- $7+8+12 = $27; 48 month life expectancy = $0.56 per month
This subject is the “knife through the heart” of any golfer’s budget: the greens fees. Just to be clear, the greens fees are not the total you pay for a round of golf. Typically for a round of golf, you will pay the greens fees and the cart rental fee. Which means, if you walk a round of golf, you will actually pay a cheaper fare, but that will be covered below. Each golf course has it’s own established green fees depending on location and tournaments held at that facility. For example, Pebble Beach Golf Course in California has a $575 greens fee per round! That would be great if you wanted to play on an iconic course once a year, but we are not looking to do that!
The best budget friendly golf courses are honestly right in your back yards. For me, Kane Country Club is one of the better courses in the area! They have a green fee of $26 with a $16 cart fee for a grand total of $42 per round of 18 holes. Another beautiful course near me is Scottish Heights. Their greens fees aren’t as expensive ($20), but the course is just as challenging, without sand traps. I will go more in depth in a future write up once I complete an “excursion of western PA golf courses” this summer. So stay tuned!
Budget Cost Calculation -- $26 per round; 2 rounds per playable month;
7 playable months per year = $30.33 per month
For those that hate to dress up (I am one of these people), this section will send chills down your back. With that being said, lets dive in… Some golf courses do require you to wear a collared shirt. The one loophole around this is most places don’t specify the shirt! I.E., polo, dress shirt, flannel, etc. So my personal go to is a simple polo. Now if you plan to golf on occasion (once every 2-3 months), you can budget a polo, $5, from Walmart. This will meet the requirement needed to get on the course, but if you are trying to perform well, this is not the best option. I personally feel these polos are like wearing a partially wool blanket on the course; they’re hot and stuff, and movement restrictive.
I would recommend getting a polo made form a performance material if you plan to continue golfing. My personal favorite is the Under Armour Tech polo. I buy these for work as well as for golfing; unfortunately, I have to replace mine a lot more because my job occasionally gets me covered in grease… That’s why I personally purchase the darker colors for work and lighter colors for golfing. But all in all this polo design is lightweight, not restrictive, and they are $40 (comparison -- most name brand polos are $60-80).
Next up, the pants. Most golf courses do allow you to wear jeans or khaki shorts on the golf course. So pick your favorite brand, and run with it! But I wanted to add alittle more to this section to deviate from the golfing topic. DRESSING UP HACK: Golf pants make excellent dress pants! I bought a couple pairs of the Under Armour Showdown golf pants a couple years ago, and I love them! They make a guy that hates dressing up, love to dress up! These parts are $80 each, but they are lightweight, cool, and extremely comfortable. No joke, to me they feel like you are wearing a pair of sweat pants! From a budget perspective, a typical pair of dress pants is $150+ a pair; I’ll gladly budget $80 for these! (Prices of both as of 2/15/21 at 4:50 PM)
You do not need a glove to start or play the game of golf, but I will say they do make it nice! I have bought a couple gloves throughout the years (Note: they are single packs and are labeled for your dominant hand), and I use mine just to drive with. They are great for someone who swings hard and fast because they do add that extra bit of grip. Trust me, the worst feeling in the world is swinging at a ball, the club slips out of your hands, and the club goes farther than the ball… But in regards to the brands, I have bought mostly Nike and Callaway gloves. Both glove are sold at Walmart for $15-20. The unfortunate part, they only last about a year. Typically when it gets cold out, the grip starts to separate from the base glove, which does allow the golf club to turn in your hand.
If golfing on a budget, a golf cart is not required to play a round of golf. People can have the luxury of walking the course, but if you do this, prepare for a LONG day. A 2 person 18 hole round of golf takes about 2.5 hrs to complete (4-5 hrs if you’re with my friends…). If you decide to walk, you can probably add another 1-1.5 hrs to your game. To be fair, this estimate is based off the 2-3 rounds I played in this fashion. Some people may walk faster or slower than me. From a budget standpoint, this will add about $10-20 in extra fees, but I personally think this investment is absolutely worth it!
Finally, obtaining a membership at a local country club can cut down on the overall cost of playing the game. I’ll start off with the big “con” for this category. The major downfall of a country club membership, it is a large lump sum of money paid at once. For example, some country clubs in my area require a $450-$840 fee to become a member. Granted, when splitting up over a year, that is
The typical discount for most memberships allow you to play for free if you are walking, i.e., you still have to pay the cart fee if you want to use one. This provides about a 50% reduction in the overall price! But wait, there’s more. Being a member at one country club does open the opportunity to get discounts at other courses. These are called reciprocals. Each reciprocal is different at each location; so you will have to ask the pro shop manager for more details.
Can we get a drum roll please? ……… The final budget value per month needed to start playing golf is $46.24. So with all the recommendations budgeted on this blog, which are you going to test out first?
Contact me through my contact section, and let me know what you think! If you have some suggestions as well, please let me know. Who knows, maybe your ideas will be featured on the next blog!