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Posted by on in Village Blogs

To take pride in playing golf like you’re poor, to happily ditch the resorts and daily-fee tracks for a sometimes dusty muni, to play 25-year-old forged blades rather than buy a new set of Razrs or R11s, to fish out a blemished Pinnacle from a mud hole and tee that one up rather than pull out a shiny white ProV1x from the sleeve -- to do all that? Well, I guarantee ya, I’m close to goin’ solo on this one. And that’s OK.

I’m layin’ it down on how to be a GLYP'er (Golf Like You’re Poor), and there ain’t no one yet bustin the door down to join me. The people “friending” my profile can be counted on one hand at this point, followers few so far on my tweets and the message board on my blog is a virgin.

And, yet, I’m a part of a group.

I’ve found that if I’m going to satisfy all my goals that I listed previously on my blog -- to play, practice, compete and maintain my equipment, and do it in a way that I put up big-time red numbers against whatever other discounts might be out there -- it’s best to be a part of a group to keep costs low.

The group I’ve chosen is Alamo City Golf Trail. It’s a non-profit association that’s been established by the City of San Antonio to manage its municipal golf courses. I’ll write about the creation of the ACGT in a future blog. It’s a story worth knowing if you’re a muni player who’s tired of being stuck in a city that has golf courses only because it has to, and there’s no real desire in the Parks and Recreation Department to engender a feeling of a golf community.

But right now it’s time I opened the books and present my GLYP budget for $100 a month.

Membership -- $4.25
Play -- $57.50
Practice -- $13
Tournaments -- $17
Equipment -- $0
Total -- $92

The ACGT’s startup costs, to my knowledge, were covered by the city. Best to be politically minded, the ACGT made the city critics quiet by getting quick cash: They offered the public annual memberships at $49.95. It’s a sort of a player-development program. I bit, so it goes down in my budget at $4.25 per month.

The membership will be the base of almost everything I do: play a round of golf 26 times a year (every other week) with a warmup bucket prior to the round, and hit golf balls in a practice-facility session 26 times a year. I’ll play golf every other week and hit balls in a practice session on alternate weeks.

Even if I don’t play one round of golf and just hit practice balls, the membership will pay for itself. The medium bucket I will buy costs $8 for non-members. Members pay $6. That’s a yearly savings of $52, so I’ve covered my membership with a little more than two dollars to spare.

OK, so that’s hardly beating this deal by red numbers. But let’s now throw in what I do on days I play golf.

First off, the membership offers six rounds at a reduced rate through a punch-card system. I tee it up and just pay the cart fee. I don’t ride, but that’s OK. Instead of a $22 round of golf four times and $20 twice (there are six rounds on the punch card), I pay $10.81 for the cart I don’t use. So that means I’ll save $63.14 by having the membership and using the punch card.

And remember, I hit balls from a warmup bucket that would cost $6 if I was not a member. But my discount knocks it down to $4.50, so at 26 times a year that’s a savings of $39 for the year.

Let’s add up what the group membership means to me. There’s $52 saved on practice-facility discounts, $63 on the punch card for six rounds of golf and $39 on the warmup sessions at the practice facility before I play golf. The membership cost $49.95 and I saved $154, so I’m about $104 to the good.

After the punch card is exhausted, I’ll play rounds of golf at $22 (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, depending where I play).

So I’ve explained my activity and budget in terms of membership in a player-development program, rounds of golf and practice, leaving tournaments and equipment. As of right now, I’m playing in two tournaments this year. And there is no money for equipment. In future blogs you’ll see why that number is zero.

The reason, again, for trying to stick to a budget with my golf? I want to be fair to my family, and my business pursuits, by not allowing my hobby to become manic. I want to enjoy the game while not taking from contributions to retirement and educational savings and other important expenses to our household.

Best of luck in your pursuits.

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Posted by on in Village Blogs

I know there is a crisis coming in my game. I could tell when I hit a ball last week at the practice range. I kept making the correct swing, but still it wouldn’t go away. As I shifted my weight to the left side on the follow-through, the toe of the golf shoe on my right foot flipped loose.

Yes, this is a crisis for a guy who plays Golf Like You’re Poor -- a GLYPer -- and has zero in his budget for equipment. That shoe is going to continue to break down as long as I keep swinging correctly and transferring my weight, so I better find a way to get a new pair.

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Posted by on in Village Blogs

Can’t I ever give it a rest? Do I always have to spout off about playing Golf Like You’re Poor?

I mean, come on, now’s the time for a break. It’s my family vacation next week, for crying out loud. Can’t a GLYPer get a vacation, too?

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Posted by on in Village Blogs

I just got back from vacation in Hawaii, and the best things I brought back are words. Words! Yes, and I consider this an improvement, a meaningful accomplishment, from the souvenirs, memories and such I've brought home from previous vacations.

Used to, I’d bring back t-shirts. Though I did find a unique t-shirt this time fashioned from the red dirt of Kauai, most t-shirts reflect little from your vacation experience. The feeling of having them in my clothes drawer is just as hollow as the shirt itself.

In the days when I traveled a lot on business and had a free afternoon, I would bring back posters from a museum where there was a nice exhibit going on. The Art Institute of Chicago, the Kimbell in Fort Worth, that nice Degas show from the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and the vivid, striking paint of Eugene Delacroix on display that time in Philly all are still hanging from my wall. I’d stick the poster in a flimsy frame when I got home, and maybe that‘s where my fascination of being cheap got started.

Pictures? I hated bringing along a camera. It was just another thing I’d forget in the rental car. Now I can take a few shots through my phone and “develop” them on facebook. That’s cool, and I did it this time around.

But words? It happened when I noticed there was a book on golf in Hawaii on the coffee table in the house we rented with the others in our travel group. It was published in 2001 and written by a man I’d never heard of before, Evan Schiller. Though it was a picture book typical of something laying on a coffee table (the title is Golf Courses of Hawaii), I found Schiller’s words were just as impressive as the photos.

When I blurt out the motto Golf Like You’re Poor, I think Schiller expressed it quite well in these few paragraphs from his book:

“The great artist Picasso said ‘Art cannot be taught, it can only be found.’ This may also be true of golf. It is my opinion that golf, like art, can be found, but only within us. One simply discovers golf and then expresses it in one form or another.

“There is a real joy in golf and in life that I have discovered comes when I create each shot and each moment freshly without being bound to my past.

“Some time ago I discovered I could create a purpose for creating the golf or photographing the courses that inspired me, as opposed to one that culture had imposed on me. The game I had been playing was one in which I was usually concerned about how I looked and what other people thought of me … you discover new possibilities for yourself and the game you had not imagined.”

Golf is found within us, and it’s best shared. In my case, it’s through the expression of words. There is real joy in golf! Indeed. In golf, you are the creator, and you behold the created. And, best, you don’t have to let anyone impose anything on you! You find what’s best, adapt it, and discover possibilities you had not imagined.

I was fortunate to play golf -- even if it was just nine holes on a municipal course -- in a place as beautiful as Kauai. But capturing these words is far better. They won’t shrink or fade, and they won’t get lost.

My blogs can be found in this section of Secret in the Dirt, and if you're interested in more stories you can go to Tim Price Sports Books. My writing also can be followed on Twitter @golflikeurpoor. Enjoy the reading, and your golf, no matter if you're rich or poor.

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Posted by on in Village Blogs

Golf has fallen. At least this what I’m reading in newspapers and magazines and hearing as I watch Golf Channel. A recent Boston  Globe article written by Michael Whitmer states there were 1 million fewer golfers last year than in 1990.

Whitmer also quotes Barney Adams (Adams Golf), who likes the idea of scooting up the tees to boost interest in the game. That’s fine, though I’m sticking to the tips.

What golf needs, I think, is lower startup costs. It’s shocking, pompous, to see what golf equipment companies expect for their new clubs. Now, I do like what they are designing, but when it comes to purchasing equipment, I’m following this IDEA (sorry, Barn‘):

The best plan is to profit by the folly of others.

That quote is from Naturalis Historia, written by the Roman known as Pliny The Elder. He never played golf, but he’s a favorite of mine, and mostly regarded to be heroic in his actions during the eruption at Vesuvius in the 1st Century. He’s a character in the historical novel Pompeii written by Robert Harris. Good read. Good stuff.

Through that one quote I’ve been inspired to do my best at learning patience, judgment, humility.

Pliny, a military officer as well as an observer of all things and a writer, is believed to have come about the words during the Empire’s military incursions into Germanic lands (oh, how that quote came back to haunt the Romans). But I’ve found it has applications as I invest in sports wagering: “Does that team really deserve to be supported by the wagering public to the point it’s a 9-point favorite on the road, or are there valid reasons for that to be proven as folly? Can I profit?”

We can all see the applications in the business world as to stocks, real estate, you name it. Great investment opportunities don’t reveal themselves every day. And when they do, and are acted upon successfully, they are no sign that you have everything figured out. Thus -- patience, judgment and humility.

I applied this, finally, when I bought the Titleist 975L-FE driver I still use today. I only bought it after I impatiently did not follow my own judgment.

I went to a Golfsmith location and asked for the used-clubs rack. The salesman pitched me on a new Lynx driver, which the salesman -- at least -- identified as a brand Golfsmith pushed, or owned. I paid more for the new club, and the face cracked in a year.

I went back to the used-club rack and luckily found the Titleist driver. The fellow who handled that consigned club told me “Yeah, a man from Horseshoe Bay (an upscale development in the Texas Hills) bought it new and used it a few rounds and found something else he wanted.” Well, I bet it didn’t take long before that fella from Horseshoe ditched that next driver he bought, or the putter maybe, and went out and got another new one.

That’s folly. And I think I profited from it by spending less than $70 on the club as opposed to $350 (or higher?).

Keep in mind that I still used the forged blades I bought (for $345) about 25 years ago. Besides that mistake of buying the driver the salesman pushed, it’s the last new clubs I’ve bought. And, yes Barn,’ I have a used Adams 3-metal in my bag and love it.

So I close by quoting another wise feller, this from one of the main characters of my next book that will be released in late 2012. Though it’s about target shooting, I’ve found that target shooting and golf are closely related.

“Get a good gun, and stick to it.” -- Ad Topperwein

My blogs can be found in this section of Secret in the Dirt, and if you're interested in more stories you can go to Tim Price Sports Books. My writing also can be followed on Twitter @golflikeurpoor. Enjoy the reading, and your golf, no matter if you're rich or poor.

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