Golfing on a Budget

It’s well known that golfing can be an expensive hobby. Between the cost of clubs and equipment, greens fees and memberships, you’re bound to pay a pretty penny for your time on the course. But, there are ways to play the game and still be frugal. So, if you’re golfing on a budget, here are some tips to get the most for your money: Equipment Buy used clubs. Buying used, especially if you’re just starting out, is a no-brainer way to save some coin. If you can look beyond the inevitable nicks and scratches that come with previously owned clubs, you can end up with a set that’s just as good as shiny new ones.  With that said, do make sure there’s no significant grooves, rust or dents and nicks on the shaft – these can negatively impact performance. Absolutely MUST have a new set, but don’t want to pay the price?  All you need is a little patience.  If you wait until the new models come out, the previous year models usually go on sale. You can get clubs that are only a year old for much less than a brand new model. Buy in bulk and when on sale. Think about the things you go through most often. Tees? Balls? Gloves? You can usually save money by buying larger quantities of these items – especially when they’re on sale – as opposed to buying balls and tees before a round or a glove only when yours wears out. Fees – Green, Membership and More Play later in the day for the best rates. Mornings and weekends are...

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Play the Golf Course on the Driving Range

Struggling to take your driving range swing to the golf course? It’s a common complaint among golfers. “But I hit it so great on the range. Why can’t I do that on the course?” Sound familiar? Swings on the range and play on the course are 2 very different things. On the course, you’re not repeating the same club, in the same spot, with a perfect lie. You typically play with people and there’s time between shots. These fundamental differences can mean your time on the range isn’t always well spent. Next time, refrain from repeatedly hitting the ball and try emulating your course play on the range. With each shot, imagine you are playing the course by using the same clubs you’d use for a hole. For example, tee off with your driver, then choose a different club for your next swing, based on that lie. If you kept it on the straight and narrow, choose an appropriate iron or wood for your second shot. Did you hook it and land in the rough on your third swing? Then, grab your pitching wedge and pretend you’re trying to lay it up on the green. Or, visualize yourself in the sand trap and take a shot that gets you out. Try hitting from different spots as well. Break away from what might be your favorite spot on the range and move around. Hit some from one end, a few more on the other, perhaps some middle of the way, then repeat. This also helps with my final suggestion – waiting between shots. Moving around the range will imitate the...

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Don’t Change your Warm-up Routine for an Event

How much do you warm-up before a casual round of golf? How much do you warm-up before a tournament? The answer to these two questions should be exactly the same. Some people make the mistake of showing up early to a tournament or event to get in extra practice. Extra swings are fine, if this is what you normally do, but it can be detrimental to your round if it’s not your normal routine. Here are a few reasons why: You don’t want to tire yourself out. Hitting 100 balls on the range might seem like a good way to get your swing consistent for the tournament, but the only thing this will do is exhaust you by the time you reach the back 9. Save your energy. Too much practice before a tournament can mess with your mental game. The more balls you hit, good or bad, the more chance you have to overthink your performance. If a tournament seems more like a casual round, you’re more apt to play like that – relaxed and without pressure. Finally, golf is all about tempo. When you practice longer than you usually do, it puts your tempo out of whack. Plus, the range before a tournament is neither the time nor place to start making changes to your swing, which is the risk you run when you increase your pre-tournament warm up time. So, whether it’s a casual round or a high-pressure tournament, when it comes to your pre-play warm up, consider them...

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Golf as a Workout

Golf’s reputation for being a sport lacking in physical fitness is not necessarily true. In fact, golf can be a great workout, if you let it be. When you ditch the cart, beer and typical course vices – like smoking or dipping – golf can be beneficial to your health. If someone with an average body type walks an average golf course length, carrying clubs on their back, he or she could burn up to 1400 calories. Indeed, the cardiovascular and strength training opportunities are there. How is it so much? Because during a round of golf on foot, golfers walk about 5-7 miles. When you factor in the hills and rough terrain, and add in strokes and swings, you have yourself a pretty good workout! And just like any other sport, you want to give your body the fuel it needs to perform its best. Keep your energy up with healthy snacks before, during and after your round and remember to stay hydrated, especially during the hot, summer months. Water and sports drinks are the best options for preventing dehydration. So, next time you hit the course, take advantage of all the fun the links have to offer, but remember to reap the health benefits,...

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GPS or Laser

When it comes to finding your yardages, marking off the ball using on-course yardage markers is time consuming and, often, inaccurate. Plus, with today’s yardage technology, why would you? The technology on the market today – golf GPS systems and laser rangefinders – are great options for determining your yardages, but both have advantages and disadvantages. Take a look at each option’s pros and cons to decide what’s best for you: GPS Pros Provides front, middle and back of green distance. Steadiness is not required. A GPS gives distance without having to aim and accurately “hit” the target. Users can obtain the distance of targets, even when they can’t see it. Fully featured models provide bonus features, like hole layouts, scorecards and statistics. A GPS can be cheaper, especially if it is a smartphone app. Cons While many come preloaded with courses, users are usually still required to register them online before use, regularly update the device via the computer, as well as download newly added golf courses as needed. With all the features available, and the ongoing updates required, the learning curve for use is much bigger. Less accurate than a laser. Weather, trees and other satellite interferences can affect GPS readings. Short battery life. Users must remember to charge it after each round. Laser Pros No need to download courses, register the device online or stay on top of updates. The learning curve is much smaller than that of a GPS. More accurate. A laser will give almost exact yardage to any target that can be seen, including the actual flag. Substantial battery life. Cons More susceptible...

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Practice Frequently, Not Longer

Practice makes perfect, right? Well, not if you’re doing it wrong. To improve your golf game, it’s important to take time to work on problem areas, master what you’re already good at and retain what you’ve learned. But, it’s how you go about your practice – in this case the duration and frequency – that can make the difference. While it may make sense that the longer you practice, the better you’ll be, that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s much more beneficial to have shorter, more frequent practice sessions, than fewer, longer ones. Shorter practice times allow you to be more deliberate and mindful in your actions. Whereas, with a long session on the range, you run the risk of mindlessly swinging the club, and loosing focus on the new skill you’re trying to master. So, shoot for frequent practices, but keep them short and to the point. A practice session of 30 minutes or less, 4 or 5 times a week, is...

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Stableford Rules

The Stableford System, developed by Dr. Frank Barney Gorton Stableford in 1931, is a scoring system in which the final score is not the stroke total, but the total points earned for scores on each individual hole.  Unlike traditional golf scoring methods, the objective is to have the highest score. The number of points awarded on each hole is based on the number of strokes vs. a fixed score, usually par, with individual handicaps factoring into the scoring as well. The scoring system is as follows: Double Bogey or worse – 0 points Bogey – 1 point Par – 2 points Birdie – 3 points Eagle – 4 points Albatross – 5 points Also unlike traditional golf, if it’s no longer possible for a player to score a point on a hole, a player is not required to complete it.  They are permitted to pick up the ball and head to the next!  This means greater speed of play, not to mention a whole lot less frustration on a bad hole. Stableford is a popular form of the game in the United Kingdom and South Africa, with less play here in the States. But, if you’re looking for a different twist on the game, consider this classic next...

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Stay Safe in the Heat

Playing in the heat can effect your golf game and, even worse, your health.  But, as long as you’re prepared, you can still have fun out there, while staying safe from the heat, too. Here are some tips for when your golf game coincides with a heat wave: It is recommended to drink 16 ounces of water every 2-3 holes to stay hydrated.  But don’t wait until the day of your round to drink-up.  Stay on top of hydration by drinking water on the days leading up to your outing. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.  Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 and apply it at least 30 minutes before heading outside. Skin damage and skin cancer due to sun exposure is an ever growing issue with golfers. Wear sun glasses or a hat to protect your eyes. UV rays can do irreversible retina damage to your eyes. Dress in light colored clothing, and wear golf clothes that are wicking and breathable.  If the course allows, wear shorts.. Consider investing in a cooling towel.  These towels are activated when soaked in water and wrung out.  They stay cool for hours and easily wrap around your neck. Book an early tee time.  Get on and off the course before the sun is the strongest. Use an umbrella, especially if you’re walking.  There are push cart accessories for umbrellas, which allow you to push your cart without having to hold your umbrella. Remember these tips the next time you’re headed to the course on a hot, summer day.  Have fun, but be...

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Hitting off of Hardpan

Hitting from hardpan can go wrong in a hurry if you don’t know what you’re doing. Hardpan is usually a flat, hard, dried out area with little or no turf. It’s typically found in low irrigation areas or places where golf carts are often used. Hitting from hardpan requires a certain type of shot. Since the ground is much harder, the club is likely to bounce into the ball if the club head hits behind the ball, even by a little. This creates a blade or thin struck shot. One way to help this is to use a lower lofted iron because of the lower amount of bounce on the club.  Another option is to use the original club, but lean the shaft forward a little to minimize the bounce on the...

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Playing From the Rough

We all find ourselves in the rough from time to time, so it’s important to make the right decisions on club selection, grip and stance in order to minimize the damage for that hole and your overall score. In the rough, you’re usually dealing with thick, long and sometimes damp grass.  This affects club head speed and the direction of the ball upon impact.  With this in mind, your best bet is usually a more lofted club, such as a wedge, that will allow you to punch the ball out of the rough, and lay it in a well positioned spot in the fairway.  A higher lofted club might rule out getting on the green, but it also diminishes the risk of not getting it airborne enough to get out of the rough all together. Grip your club firmly and choke up an inch for stability.  This helps with control when the grass wraps itself around the club neck, causing the club to twist in your hand. And remember – don’t get too greedy with this shot, something that’s especially tempting when you’re in a deeper lie.  The goal is to get yourself back into good position on the fairway, and onto the green in the next shot....

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