Cheating the expense of golf…or maybe not?

So you’re watching the like of Mickelson, Woods, McIlroy and Scott making the usually frustrating game of golf look ridiculously easy around some of the world’s most challenging golf courses and you think to yourself – how hard can it be? I’ll take up golf, it looks social, active and rewarding once the little white ball pops in that hole. Yes, I’ll ‘begin to golf’.

Where to start? Clubs naturally. You need something the hit the ball with after all. But you soon discover they’re not cheap and there’s a myriad of choice. My advice would be to go to a golf store, try a few different brands and see what you like, with the important factor being under no circumstances do you buy something there and then. Drive home flick the internet on and type into that Google thing the exact name of the club set that you’ve just tried. Online stores may prove cheaper but then there’s always ebay. My first set was a Taylor Made Burner Plus set of sticks from sand wedge to 4 iron.  I picked up a 10.5 degree driver from jack of all sports master of none SportsDirect for £15. I quickly realised that the putter is quite an important club and splashed out £75 on an Odyssey White Rossie putter. £375 Taylor Mades + £75 Odyssey Putter + £15 Dunlop Driver = £465. Not cheap and always easy to flog at a car boot sale or ‘down the pub’ for any eagle-eyed thief who might spot your new ‘sticks’ glistening in the boot of your car. If you’re spending this kind of money, the sensible golfer invests in an insurance policy that will cover his treasured irons.

Make sure you buy a sturdy trolley!

Make sure you buy a sturdy trolley!

Alas, you cannot carry clubs round a course bound by an elastic band, you need a bag, if you’re young fit and healthy then a carry bag for £60 will suffice but chances are you might want to put it on a trolley; ‘big’ trolley bags are more expensive but budget £60 and you’ll be fine. Whoops! Don’t forget the trolley itself (these bad boys really eat up the space in the car boot/garage be warned) you can pay anything from £60 to £200 for battery powered push-of-a-button carts. So if you budget £60 for the bag + £90 for the trolley = £150.

Without sounding like a woman, you need to look good even if you’re playing of a 28 handicap, live the dream at least and play like you have ‘all the gear, no idea’…those golfers are easy to spot on the first tee. I’d recommend a pair of trousers that won’t stick to your legs like drainpipes when it rains. I’m writing this post from the north west of England where it rains a lot. Invest in decent trousers and budget £40. Nike Dri-Fits are very good performers in that kind of rain that is drizzly but soaks you through! Chuck in a t-shirt (polo neck as standard) for perhaps £20 and a windproof tank top or light jacket for £20, decent socks will prevent blisters (pay £5) because 18 holes is a long way and cover up the bald spot with a branded cap for £10, plus a token golf glove for £5 and we’re now pushing a total of £100 for your apparel. Still with me? There’s more.

My old granddad, always used to say a good soldier always looks after his feet and shoulders. He used to preach that if kept his feet and shoulders warm and dry then it always made for t a happy ‘core’ that meant he could march for miles. You can apply a similar ethic to golf. Buy decent waterproofs, especially if you’re playing the north west of England. To get round 18 holes in 3.5 hours without rain entering the conversation or interfering with your mental game is not a million miles from reality. I wouldn’t scrimp on the waterproof trousers either, you’ll be far more comfortable, so £70 for jacket and trousers should see you right! And then there’s shoes. Golf shoes are a different world; all manner of colours, spikes, studs, leather uppers and of course, pricing. I’d recommend putting £60 in that budget pot because they’ll be worth it. Total for shoes and waterproofs = £130.

Hang on a minute – you’ll need a ball, or balls, to hit, or lose which will cost about £5. Don’t bother with Titleist ProV1’s unless you can control back spin or can bend it like Beckham on purpose. Then there’s a pack of tees, castle tees, a pitch repairer, a towel, an ornate ball marker (or use a lucky 10pence piece!), pencils, scorecard holder…the list of this kind of golfing accessory is endless. Basically, budget £10 and you’ll be fine. Mention you play golf to any Auntie or work colleague and you’ll find a plethora of tees arrives just in time for Christmas.

Finally, you need 18 holes to play on. Memberships vary and with good reason, I’ve played on municipals where I needed a mountain bike on the greens and also played PGA courses where you felt cruelty towards the fairways if you weren’t wearing bedroom slippers. You can easily tell a well maintained course from a bog standard circuit of 18 holes (or should that read ‘boggy’ standard!). A ‘proper’ golf course is so cherished by it’s club pro, greenkeeper, secretary and the like that every element of a golf club is insured these days from storm damage on fairways to liability claims due to negligent buggy drivers! However, these top-notch courses aren’t necessarily out of reach to the average punter thanks to the now super common 2-4-1 vouchers that often accompany a well-known golf magazine publication and you can get a round on a decent course (in the north west of England anyway) for around £25.

So, that’s quite a shopping list that’s developed from watching Bubba Watson, smashing his way round 18 holes on the T.V. It’s now time to tot up the final total. A whopping £885, now I called the blog post ‘Cheating the Expense of Golf’ but in conclusion I don’t think you can really. Let’s face it, done properly, golf is an expensive sport and you’ll need at least 4 hours ‘leave’ from the ‘other half’ too. Bearing in mind time is money, golf is an expensive sport unless you can borrow clubs, clothes, accessories, pay for your ‘other half to go shopping whilst you play and play for free on a course of your choice. Whilst it might be a financial drain it’s very, very worthwhile particularly if you can birdie a stroke index 1 hole, despite double bogeying the rest! Happy golfing readers.

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