9 ways to save on your golf expenses without playing less golf

money and golf clubs

Here's how to save more than just strokes.

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If you’re like many golfers, you’ll be spending this off-season trying to improve by stretching, strengthening, dialing in equipment and tweaking your swing and putting stroke.

More power to you. Lower scores are always welcome.

But saving strokes next year doesn’t have to be your sole ambition. As we roll toward 2023, you might also be looking to save some golf dollars.

Here are nine ways to trim your golf expenses without cutting back on how often you play.

1. Join a club or association

Many courses have men’s, women’s and mixed-gender clubs that cost little to join. They’re a great pathway to friendships (and friendly competitions). In many cases, they also come with savings in the form of discounted tee times and other deals.

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2. Unearth golf balls

Cracking open a sleeve of shiny new balls is one of the great joys in golf, so we’d certainly never try to dissuade you from investing in new orbs. (In fact, here are 8 great options to choose from.) But digging them out of the dirt can be fun, too. According to one study, more than 300 million golf balls are lost or discarded in this country every year. Someone should find them. It might as well be you. You can carry out spot searches as you play (so long as you aren’t holding up the course). Or, if you really want to get ambitious, you could follow the lead of one of our staffers and go nighttime ball-hunting with the help of a UV flashlight.

3. Walk don’t ride

Taking a cart doesn’t always cost extra. But at many courses, it comes with a fee. Thinking of it this way: hoofing it not only brings financial savings but it also delivers payoffs for your physical health.

4. Embrace twilight golf

Photographers call it the “golden hour,” when the sun’s low-slanting rays cast the course in gorgeous light. What makes late day even more beautiful is that it’s also a cheaper time to play.

5. Look beyond your bucket list

Bandon. Ballybunion. Pinehurst. Pebble. No one in their right mind would dissuade you from visiting those dreamy destinations. But the world is also brimming with sleeper courses for the budget-minded. You’ll find a lengthy roster of them on our ranking of America’s Best Munis, as well as on our list of Top 100 Value Courses in the U.S., which features top-shelf designs you can play for $150 or less.

6. Act on your bucket list…from home!

Virtually everyone wants to play the world’s best courses. Now, everyone can play them virtually. You can join the fun on GOLF+, a stunningly realistic virtual reality platform that — starting at $29.99 — allows you to take on scores of storied tracks from the comfort of your living room, including Pinehurst No. 2, the Ocean Course at Kiawah and Valhalla. Just strap on your Oculus headset (sold separately), and you’re standing on the tee, with a course of your dreams unfolding before you. You can play as a single. Enter competitions. Track your stats. Even hang at Topgolf. If only real-life were always this fun.

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7. Cut the cord

That’s not a swing tip. We mean your cable cord. If you get cranky every time you see your cable bill, consider: You can transition to streaming services and not miss any golf action. Hulu+Live TV, YouTubeTV and fuboTV count among the services that live-stream PGA Tour events (subscription fees are roughly $70 a year). You can also catch select events on such services as ESPN+, Paramount+ and NBC’s Peacock. And don’t even get us started on Masters.com, which offers comprehensive coverage of the year’s first major for anyone with an internet connection. LIV fans, you’re in luck, too. The tour streams its events for free on YouTube.

8. Find a discounted tee time

We get it. Not all courses are in love with third-party tee-time services. But as consumers, we can’t ignore the fact the many of the off-peak discounts they dangle are nearly always lower than rack rate.

9. Take a chance on an NFT

Given the volatility of the crypto market, you might think NFT now stands for “No Freakin’ Thanks.” But it still refers to “non-fungible token,” a uniquely verifiable digital image that can be bought and sold online. Just this fall, the PGA Tour partnered with Autograph, a Web 3.0 company co-founded by Tom Brady, to create a platform of digital collectibles inspired by all things Tour-related: top players, competitions, stats, and more. We can’t guarantee a windfall. But invest wisely, and you never know. This is golf, after all. Risk, reward!

Josh Sens

Golf.com Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.