I really enjoy playing Golf with my friends. It really started just this year, but it has been great. It is relaxing (most of the time) it gets me outside and away from the computer, and it is one of the only sports (don't worry, I use the term loosely when associated with me) where you only really play against yourself. On top of it all my daughter will often "caddy" for me so we get some one on one time as well.
So when money came to a real head in July and we all made the pledge to cut expenses, especially non-Needs, and get on a budget (although it took to September to really get things in order). I was thinking that my golf time was behind me, at least until our debts were paid off.
It had been drilled into me as a small fry that Golf was a Rich Man's game by my family. I believed that you really couldn't play unless you were willing to pay big money, or at least had big money. I had a chance to go out a couple times with our Reps and Sales Guys and it reinforced the issue. They played at nice, often private clubs and spent like a liquored up monkey on the latest gear. So not willing to spend that sort of money, I moved on.
For my Birthday last year my wife surprised me by getting me a gift cert for a set of club and 6 lessons. I bought some off-brand clubs that actually fit me (I am 6' 4") took the lessons and found that I enjoyed it. I started to play on the weekends with my brother and step-father at a local course and really enjoyed it.
But even this was going to be out of my "allowance range" now that we were on budget. Then some friends clued me in to some great ideas as they were trying to play for as little as possible too.
We started by looking into "Twilight Golf" meaning a round at the end of the day, especially on a weekday. This gave you big savings because hardly anyone plays at that time! We would go right after work and found deals that took expensive courses that normally ran $55, for $20! We then found a little 9-hole course that we could play for $5!!! It started at 5pm and we were always last, but we got to play!
I then turned to equipment. Golf is like fashion, every-year new sparkly things come-out and the old stay for a year or so, but get severely marked down. I started by using balls that were a generation or two behind and buying ones that were on closeout, since they weren't as popular. These were balls that had been $40+ just 6 months ago, now going for $14 or less.
I really wanted one of the new drivers that just came out that help your slice. But using what I know now I waited and saved. Sure enough the driver kept coming down in price until it was on closeout for 70% off. I will have saved enough in two more weeks to get it...using 100% of saved allowance cash.
The point isn't to bore you with Golf stories. The same goes for any hobby. Just because you are on a budget doesn't mean you have to give up the things you like. Put creative though on how you can do them for less. I guarantee you will appreciate them even more...