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Golf Has Been Calling You. It’s Time To Give In

I thought the game was too slow, too dull and too expensive. Now I know just how wrong I was

It’s too expensive. You can spend an awful lot of money on golf. Or you can spend not much at all. Thanks to public golf courses, easily affordable golf clubs (both new and used) and other equipment sold both online and in stores, it really is no more costly to get started than most other sporting activities and pastimes. My golf shoes? $45 dollar FootJoys. My glove? $12. That’s it for my sports related attire. The rest of your uniform: golf shirts, slacks (not jeans) or long shorts and baseball caps, needn’t cost much, and you probably have that stuff already in your wardrobe. On the other hand, if you’re golfing for business, fly golf attire is just a smart investment. While there is a traditional dress code for the game, it’s more strictly enforced at private clubs and top golf resorts—which you probably won’t spend as much time at if you’re budget conscious. Dress codes at municipal courses vary, but are usually more flexible. Green fees for the public course where I live are only $29 for county residents, plus $45 a year for a county golf card. Even golf lessons are more accessible and affordable, especially if you opt for semi-private (as I did at Manhattan’s Chelsea Pier) or group lessons.

"Baby, I was only kidding about sleeping with my clubs. Unless you'll let me do it."

What about the clubs? I got my driver and hybrid on sale for $49 from Sports Authority. Not each. Total. It’s possible to get a set of irons and wedges, with bag, for less than $150 (even less if you buy them used) on Amazon or at retail outlets including Golf Galaxy and Golfsmith. You can get an 18-pack of golf balls for less than $15. Would Tiger Woods or Fred Couples be caught dead with this equipment? Probably not. (Of course, the average PGA pro can beat most regular humans with an umbrella.) But when you’re just learning the game, you don’t need to spend a fortune on clubs and other stuff. As you get better—or as you make more money as a result of the great networking you’ll be doing at the golf events you’ll now accept invitations to—you can trade up and play badly with the best clubs money can buy.

It’s too time consuming. A round of golf should be completed in four hours or less. I used to spend way more time than that playing basketball on Saturdays. What takes up a lot of time with golf is not the actual playing. It’s practicing, which you have to do to be decent enough to have fun playing. Back when people had to do all of their practicing at an actual golf course, this could be a time-consuming endeavor. But now there are all kinds of tips and tools you can use to practice your swing, chipping, pitching and putting at home, at your office, in your hotel during business trips, wherever and whenever, so you can spend most of your time at the actual golf course playing. Of course, you want to practice and play on a real course as much as possible, but there are all kinds of ways to work on your game with the time you have.

It’s not enough exercise. I once believed that if an activity didn’t involve running, jumping, catching, hitting or throwing something, such as football, basketball or tennis, it could not possibly keep me fit. Since then, I’ve discovered that there are different kinds of fitness that don’t involve explosive aerobic activity, such as bodybuilding, a sport I’ve pursued as a hobby for nearly 20 years. Golf also fits into that category, assuming you don’t use a golf cart to get around the links. An 18-hole round of golf requires you to walk as much as 7 miles or more, depending on the course and how often you have to hit the ball. (I’m sure I’m doing more than 10 miles a round.) Remember, you’re doing this while toting around as much as 30 lbs., the typical weight of a golf bag with a full set of clubs, a half dozen golf balls, tees and other tools of the sport. Add in 60 or more full swings of a golf club along the way, and it’s a pretty good workout, one reason it is critical to stay hydrated as you would with any other sport or workout activity. A weekly round of golf is a great way to get or stay in shape—but not as hard on the joints and easier to recover from than, say, those weekend pick-up basketball games. (However, stretching before playing, particularly the lower back, is highly recommended.) Golf has been a great addition to my other fitness and sports activities.

The bottom line: Golf is more accessible and affordable than ever. Approached properly, it can be a good fitness activity, too. And it’s actually a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon with friends or business associates. I’m sorry I bought into these reasons for not playing golf and put off embracing the game for so long. Don’t make the same mistake.

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  • Sidney Joyner

    Hey Alfred,

    I must say your article really aces the question why African Americans who are serious about business need to explore the great game of golf. I have found this sport to be one of the most enjoyable sports I have ever played and I have played them all! I hope that individuals who read your article also take the time to read a little about the history of African Americans in the sport of golf. Our history in this sport will truly enhance your reasons for playing and appreciating this great game. Keep working on your game as I will and I hope to catch up with you on the links.

  • Sidney Joyner

    Alfred,

    I would like to add that it was a pleasure to meet you at the recent African American Golf Summit at the Marine Park GC. It was a great day and your presentation provided a well nuanced view of what happens when the passion of the game emerges in you. Take care and I look forward to attending the Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge in 2012.

    • Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      Sydney,

      It was great to meet you and I really enjoyed the African American Golf Summit at the Marine Park Golf Course. Sharing my experience with you and the rest of the Passion Networkers has only increased my enthusiasm for the game. I look forward to catching up with you on the links and at the 2012 Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge!

      Alfred