How To Save On The Golf Course

Golf doesn’t have to be the expensive, effete, sport of the affluent ruling class that popular culture has made it out to be. Not if you follow five simple tips from No Credit Needed:

1. I take my own sodas and bottled waters in a small cooler.
2. I purchase tees, gloves, and balls online. If you wait until you are at the clubhouse to buy supplies, you’ll pay two or three times the price for the same items.
3. I take my own snacks. For each round, I pack a ‘power bar’ and a piece or two of fruit. I skip the clubhouse restaurant and simply enjoy my snacks.
4. I never play for money.
5. I try to play after 4:00 PM when most courses give a twilight discount. One local course has a 50% discount for rounds after 4:00 PM.

Also, if you know someone living next to the course, ask to borrow the balls others have hit onto their property.

Frugality On The Golf Course… Really? Are You Sure? [No Credit Needed]


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  1. AtomikB says:

    Those are good tips. Also, find the most ghetto golf course you can. I go to one called “Missing Links” in Firestone, Colorado. The fairways are mostly clover, and the creens are mostly astroturf, but a round is only $5. Also, they don’t care if you bring 40’s on your golf bag.

  2. luckybob343 says:

    The snacks, balls and gambling hints are givens. However, I have been forced on more than one course to leave the cooler in the car, so the drinks are a definite maybe.

    Also keep in mind that, at least in places I’ve lived at (Alabama and Philadelphia, PA), the courses offering any sort of playing discount were usually three months away from becoming lumberyards and cow pastures.

  3. bambino says:

    If you’re really too cheap to spend a decent green fee, then yes, please stay off the nicer courses.

  4. the_pro_from_dover says:

    You could also follow the Hawkeye “pro from Dover” model. In Richard Hooker’s novel “M*A*S*H: A Novel About Three Army Doctors”:

    “[Hawkeye] would walk confidently into a pro shop, smile, comment upon the nice condition of the course, explain that he was just passing through and that he was Joe, Dave or Jack Somebody, the pro from Dover. This resulted, about eight times out of ten, in an invitation to play for free. If forced into conversation, he became the pro from Dover, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, England, Ohio, Delaware, Tennessee, or Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, whichever seemed safest.”

    The phrase has morphed over time to mean outside consultants with some kind of expertise, but it’s really just a name for a scam to get out of greens fees.

  5. Ausoleil says:

    Instead of “borrowing” golf balls one can always hunt for lost ones during their round while they’re waiting for their next shot. Good places to look are at the edge of woods or natural areas, in streams, or in the woods, especially on the right side of a course about 200-250 yards from a tee-box. Slicers (people who hit their ball with an extreme left to right curve) tend to lose balls in that zone and if you are on a course that has woods to the right chances are there are lots of lost golf balls in that area.

    As far as greens fees goes, there are lots of web sites around that offer discounted tee times that are often even under the twilight rates of most courses. Without a nod from Ben I won’t post links, but any decent hand at using the Google should have no trouble at all.

  6. Toof_75_75 says:


    You won’t get his proverbial nod, he is on vacation.

  7. mishy says:

    When I was little I used to go for walks around a local golf course with my parents (outside the property). My sister and I had a blast climbing through bushes and ditches and even in the sewer to look for golf balls, and my dad probably never had to buy any. So if you have kids, put ’em to work!

  8. RandomHookup says:

    Just grab as many golf balls as you can next time you go to a trade show. I have a veritible jug ‘o balls, and I don’t even play.

  9. ekthesy says:

    From a longtime golfer, be aware that ballhawking in the woods can lead to tick bites, if you live in such areas. I always wear long pants to golf, regardless of the weather. Ticks, snakes, all sorts of nasty creatures await you in the woods.

    If you’re worried about having to sneak a cooler in, just take a few of the plastic bags you didn’t throw out when you came home from the supermarket, put one inside the other inside the other, so you have a treble-strength bag, fill with ice and beer, and keister it in your golf bag when you get to the course. No one’s going to go looking through your bag, and you just have to make sure to pour off the melted ice (aka the water) so you don’t get soaking wet if you’re carrying.

    If you’re riding a cart, as most people are these days, then there’s no limit as to what you can hide in your bag. Sky’s the limit. If you’re at a swanky course and one of the guys who carries your bag from your car says something about how heavy your bag is, just slip him a fiver and he’ll be quiet.

    That’s also a way to save a couple bucks–carry your bag if you can, don’t ride a cart. It’s better exercise, you can think about your next shot while you’re walking to it, and it allows you to play “ready golf” and speed up the pace of play.

  10. B says:

    1: Don’t go looking for lost balls when you should be playing. You’re holding up the people behind you, and this is a large inconvenience to them.
    2: The best place to get cheap golf balls is to buy used ones from a driving range. They will be cheap, however they will be very low quality, and will affect the play of good golfers. Duffers like myself, however, are safe using them.

  11. Notsewfast says:


    Here in Colorado (Denver), most public courses are well maintained and offer twilight discounts. Never played in PA or AL, but I’m orginally from TX, and public courses were terrible there in my experience, so I can see where you’re coming from.

    Private courses are nice for a serious game, or with friends who won’t play elsewhere,but a buddy from college and I regularly play Friday evening golf on a public course because we can relax, and move as slowly or as quickly as we want.

  12. iMike says:

    @bambino: QFT. Golf is the most popular participant sport in the country and accordingly there are courses for all budgets. Please don’t ghetto up the nice courses I like to play.

    Back OT: another money-saving tactic is to look for discount coupons at local golf stores, tourist “magazines” that are mostly ad books, and even in the yellow pages.

  13. iMike says:

    @B: Pet peeve, along with the guy who insists upon taking five minutes to read the green and line up his triple bogey putt.

    Play at the appropriate pace, or don’t play at all.

  14. junkmail says:

    LOL loving all the ‘golf snobs.’ Can we see your Claret Jug?

  15. Ausoleil says:


    Lots of public courses have plenty of waits between shots. It’s easy to hawk balls then and never miss your turn in line. When I was a kid it was how I had enough ammo to play. Dad sure as heck wasn’t going to consign me a new dozen every other week and plenty of people won’t even look for a ball they hit in water or in the woods.

    Nowadays, if you really want to get cheap balls, you can find used and rescued ones for sale everywhere. If you have to have new ones, blemish and logo balls are often cheaper by the dozen than pristine new ones too. I recently saw a dozen logo’d Pro V1s for sale for 28 bucks, which was more than 1/3 off full price.

  16. mac-phisto says:

    hmm…i used to know a guy who was able to get in 16 holes of golf before the club house opened, so he was unable to pay for his almost-round because no one was around to collect. he didn’t play the first & last hole for obvious reasons.

    of course, for those of us that don’t like to get our morning run in getting chased by the ranger, this method of saving is not recommended. it definitely made me *cough* him better on the track though.

    tourneys are actually a really great way to get on expensive or member-exclusive courses for as little as $50/person, so let people know you’re interested (& get working on your short game). that’s pretty much the only way i get out anymore.

  17. Chicago7 says:

    You could have written a snappy headline like “How to save green on the greens”, but NOOOOOOOO!


  18. Triteon says:

    @bambino: Seconded.

  19. jnkdaniel says:

    i think the writer needs to spend more time on the driving range.

  20. jnkdaniel says:

    if you need drinks, snacks, coolers, gloves. please don’t litter!

  21. zolielo says:

    Twilight, tournaments, and package deals are the tips I have.

    Though lately I have been playing Pebble Beach so it has been no go on the low cost…

    All of the trade show balls I have suck…

  22. Televiper says:

    These tips are so given that feels a little patronizing just reading it. How bout the cheapest places to pick up balls, clubs.. the best time of year to go shopping, etc? I mean “Bag your own lunch” has to be the most over stated money saving advice on the planet. My favorite is “if you happen to know someone that lives beside a golf course.”

    If you just want some bottled water… Freeze two water bottles, one half, and one 3/4 full of water and top them off before you leave.

    Look for deals on golf clubs and accessories in the fall.

    Many high end golf clubs have a low end equivalent that is a fraction of the price. The difference is the name on the club, and the person buying it.

    Get a cart, or a carrying harness and walk instead of using a cart.

    Look for the charity coupon books. These often cost $20-$30 and are packed with 2 for 1 deals on local golf courses. (This is true for Ontario).

    Check online, and in small local circulations. You’ll often find smaller golf courses offering deals to entice the public to come and play.

    Spend some time at the driving range and reduce your slice a little before donating your balls to adjacent farmers fields, baseball diamonds, and lakes. If you’re still getting the hang of putting, chipping, and getting out of sand trips. You’ll find the 9 and 7-Iron will save you balls, and keep you out of the rough. Face it.. if you can’t 2 put, quit playing like you’re planning on getting par. :)

  23. kidgenius says:

    Definitely suggest the twilight walk. My local muni course offered all the holes you could walk after 1 PM for $9. Pretty decent course too. Not the best, but I’ve paid more for worse courses. I remember once when another guy and I walked and we were able to finish 18 holes in 3 hours…WALKING! It’s amazing how quickly a round can go when you aren’t waiting on anyone. Also, I find that carts tend to slow play down. People start fooling around, driving backwards, dilly-dallying, etc. I have no problem keeping pace by walking. You set off after the last ball has been driven, walk to your ball, check out your shot, and hit.

  24. Televiper says:

    Carts make a big difference on some of the larger courses where there’s a small hike between holes. I personally just play till I reach snowman (8 hits). If I get it to the green…good.. in the hole great. The cart is just more of a hassle when you’re making 3 or 4 stops on the fair way or in the rough.

  25. Me. says:

    I’m a beverage cart girl and for the record, we know that consumables are overpriced. I have absolutely no problem giving people cups and cups of ice and directing them to the nearest cooler or drinking fountain. But for crying out loud, throw me a buck or two after the third or fourth cup of ice!!

    A bit off subject: the best thing you can do for the BCG is to wave her on if you don’t need anything. I sit in 115 degree heat while golfers putt. They see me, I know it, but I still wait (as to not disturb) only to hear “Oh, we’re okay” after I’ve wasted 3 minutes. 3 minutes x 9 holes x 3 courses = bad service for everyone else!

  26. Televiper says:

    I love you just for being a beer cart girl.

  27. gmark2000 says:

    My tips:

    The municipal courses are cheaper.

    The par-3 “Pitch-n-Putt” courses are cheaper.

    Lookout for local TV auctions like those put on by the Rotary Club. I’ve bid on highly discounted green fees and packages because it was the off season.

    Go to a golf store and practice with their demo clubs in the indoor range.

  28. huadpe says:

    Having been a cashier at a golf course, Bethpage to be specific, there are many other tricks you can use. For Bethpage specifically there are senior discounts on weekdays (though not for Black), twilight after 4 pm, a differential price for NY state residents (bring your driver’s license) and a fee for making a reservation. If you don’t mind maybe missing holes 17 and 18, you can often show up to Bethpage at 3:45 and snag a late round on the Black course for about $30. It’s a chance, but $30 for a US open course isn’t bad.

  29. mishy says:

    I just remembered that when I lived in San Diego you could buy a resident card for $25 a year and then play at certain golf courses at a discount, including Torry Pines. I was never good enough to play at Torrey Pines but looking at the website the weekend price is $181 for non-residents and $49 for residents. Other cities might have similar discounts for city or county owned courses.