For the past 8 years, I have been trying (and failing) to become an average golfer. I found an un-discovered passion for the game and have been working to get better each year. Over this period, my uncle and friends have spent countless hours on the beautiful courses watching me hit a ball 50 yards, curse, and sometimes throw my club in anger. I commend them for their patience, because it happens much more frequently than it should. It seems I have reached my potential as a self-taught golfer and part of it is my fault for not putting in a better effort to learn/spending the money to take lessons and learn the right way. I have tried and failed at teaching myself to golf. What lies ahead is a serious investment to improve my game. The question is….is it really worth it?
For those of you who are not golfers, I will give you a quick run-down of some of the costs associated with the game. I have broken the costs down into two categories: the initial cost of golfing and the recurring cost of golfing. The initial cost of clubs covers the purchases of the actual golf clubs and all the necessary equipment that follows. I will use the low-end of the price spectrum for my analysis since most people I know purchased the cheapest set of clubs they could get their hands on. The cost of $255 does not seem that bad for a one-time expense. I can think of many hobbies that I can think of that cost more than this, so if this were the main expense associated with golfing I wouldn’t be writing this article! However, the cost of golfing does not stop there…trust me. This is just the jab to our wallet. The recurring expenses provide the knockout punch.
To be a great golfer, you have to play regularly. This really should play on a weekly basis so you can continue to improve. For me, I have reduced my golfing to only twice a month so I cannot experience the benefits of playing regularly. Each round of golf costs me between $25-$40 depending on the course you have selected, the timing of the round, and if you choose to walk/ride in a cart. You must also be well-stocked with golf balls (In my case I bought a lot of cases. It sucks finding a golf ball in the woods!), tees, and the whole nine yards. Once again, a costly endeavour. Did I mention that you really should take some lessons if you want to be a much better golfer? Just looking up the cost made me cringe on the inside. A 30 minute session can run between $40-$60 while a pack of three lessons will easily cost you 3 figures. After all, you can’t take just one lesson. The golf lesson quickly becomes a sunk cost if you do not practice what you learned during the lesson either on the golf course or the driving range. It is a vicious circle of compounding spending that becomes more and more expensive!
Where Do I Go from Here?
That is why I find myself in the situation I am in today. Do I continue playing the game I really enjoy playing and commit to success or do I accept my fate and begin to cut my losses? I can understand the pros and cons of both methods. However, the more I think about it, golfing seems to be fitting less and less into my new lifestyle. For one, golfing takes up a lot of time. Each round can take 4-5 hours depending on the day. Do I want to use my precious time off like that anymore? I have enjoyed spending my time off recently blogging, reading articles, and interacting in the investing community. Which one will add more value to my life? Second, I re-discovered my love for playing tennis recently. It is a challenging, great exercise, and surprisingly difficult. Plus it takes up less time and most importantly, is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper. The two investments are a racket ($30) and the occasional 3-pack of tennis balls. It is also worth noting I am better at tennis than golf! Why not spend less-time and less-money playing a sport I enjoy more and I am better at?
The tough decisions you face in life! I am fortunate to be having this debate. But going forward, I am expecting to begin phasing out golf in my life and transition from a semi-monthly/weekly event to an “every once in a while I want to play a round and hang out with friends” type of event. If I am going to ever attempt Lanny’s 60% savings challenge, I have to start somewhere, right? It isn’t even just about the cost. I want to better use my time to enjoy the time with love ones and expand my knowledge of investing to reach my goal of financial independence faster. With great alternatives at hand, the decision to phase it out is becoming easier and easier. It just makes too much sense. I am not playing for the PGA you know!
What have been the biggest lifestyle changes you made in your life? Have you gone through something similar with a hobby you love?