Golf is often viewed as an expensive sport. While it is expensive, there are plenty of ways to keep the game affordable. Golf requires a lot of equipment. Clubs, an endless supply of balls, and a place to play are only the start. Because the game is historically for the wealthy, if someone wants to play inexpensively they will have to accept that their gear will not be the best. However, golfers can still get quality equipment without exceeding their budget. 

Every golfer needs clubs. There are several ways to obtain them. The first is to use or borrow clubs from family. Senior Kai Shahani, who started golfing in 2020, said, “If you’re just starting, get clubs from friends or buy used clubs.” If family members are willing to lend you equipment, then clubs won’t cost anything. Used equipment is considerably cheaper than brand-new: a used set can usually save $700-1000. The condition of used clubs varies, but scratches and small dents won’t matter as they will occur with use regardless. A good place to find used clubs is Callaway Pre-Owned, which has a large variety of clubs from every brand. The price of a new full bag of clubs typically exceeds $1500; however, there are full sets for as little as $400. Beginner sets are good because they let you get a feel for the game without having to pay a premium for clubs. Another advantage of buying a full set of cheap clubs is that they come with a bag, which typically costs $75 or more. If you buy a used set, expect to pay around $1000. 

Golf attire is next. One or two colored shirts, khaki shorts and pants, a hat, and maybe a belt are acceptable at most courses A colored shirt typically costs between $20-30, and khakis are easy to come by. Don’t worry about golf shoes; sneakers work fine, and golf-specific shoes don’t provide a noticeable benefit to beginner or intermediate players. You can usually buy cheap gloves for $15, though they will need to be replaced frequently—about once a month. 

Finally, golf balls. These can be expensive, as golfers lose balls frequently. Beginners should not worry about what type of ball they are using—there is virtually no difference between a PRO V1 and a Noodle. Costco’s Kirkland brand has made waves recently in the golf community for its $24 packs of 24 balls. These balls perform far better than one might expect of such a cheap ball. Another cheap option is used balls. Several stores in the area sell them, including Big 5 and the PGA Superstore. These balls are random and usually come in bags of 36 that cost around $20.

Once a golfer has all their equipment, they’ll need to hit the driving range. There are several driving ranges in the area, including at Stanford and at Baylands. Hitting 100 balls at the range will cost around $15. These places are great places to practice hitting, though they are often crowded, especially from 5 to 8 p.m. For golfers who want to work on putting and chipping, both Baylands and Stanford have chipping greens. These are both completely free, though space can be limited on such small greens.

Actual reservations tends to be the most expensive part of golf. High-end courses tend to cost over $100 per reservation, and even cheaper courses will cost over $35 for a reservation. There are ways to save money, though. Courses tend to be cheapest after 3 p.m. You can typically save $20-30 by going then. For youth, courses offer junior rates that are usually in the $15-20 range, but that’s not the best deal available. Instead, youths can sign up with a program called Youth On Course (YOC). With YOC, golfers can book tee times for $10 or less at many courses in the country. YOC membership only costs $50 a year, so golfing more than three or four times makes it well worth it. “I wouldn’t be able to golf as much. It’s a lot more expensive without YOC,” said Shahani. The only caveats are that YOC isn’t available at every club, and many clubs that are part of the program offer it only at specific times. For example, Baylands Golf Course only lets YOC members pay the discounted $5 price between Monday and Thursday after 4 p.m.

For golfers still dissatisfied with the price of playing at these courses, there is another option: working at a golf course. Most courses, public and private, allow workers to play the course for free on Mondays. On top of that, working around the golf course provides many opportunities to find free balls. Also, many of the biggest brands including Callaway, Titleist, and Taylormade have deals with golf courses that reduce club prices for golf club members and workers. 

As for golf instruction, if you don’t want to pay for a lesson, many YouTubers post good introductory videos. Rick Shiels Golf on YouTube has a wide range of short lessons on nearly every aspect of the game.

Golf can be really expensive, but, with the right planning, it can become more affordable.

Finn Papenfus is a senior at M-A. He looks forward to writing about sports, politics and other stories. Finn plays golf and watches football in his free time.

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