Golf is a mightily expensive sport and one of the most expensive sports in the world but it can be a lot less expensive if you’re willing to think out of the box a little.
Once you have invested in a set of clubs the only recurring costs golf thrusts upon are constantly buying balls, going to the driving range, having lessons with a pro, and the most expensive – paying to play at golf courses.
Which Golf Courses Are Free?
If you’re willing to drop your golf course standards a bit that are actually some golf courses in the world that are 100% free to play on. The greens and fairways aren’t quite as manicured or fast as the golf courses you might pay to play on but if you simply enjoy playing golf and want to have a good walk, they are a great option.
Cavendish Golf Course on the island of Lanai in Hawaii was created by Edwin B Cavendish back in 1947. He created this golf course as an escape for the pineapple workers to enjoy when they weren’t farming. Today, this 3028-yard golf course has 9 greens with two sets of tees on each, creating an 18 hole golf course.
The white tees are for the back nine, the blue for the front nine, and the golf course roams around hilly terrain lined with huge Cook Island pine trees. The quality of the course is average and thanks to the automatic irrigation system on the greens are playable all year around.
You don’t have to go to Hawaii to find a free golf course either, they’re dotted around the globe. Bruntsfield Links Short Hole Golf Club in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, is home to a 36 hole pitch and putt golf course that is 100% free to play on and you can even find a free golf course in South West Virginia.
Lynch Links is a free 9 hole golf course set on the campus of Emory & Henry College. It’s a 1730 yard par 30 course with a quirky layout and mixture of everything that is a joy to play on.
So how do you play golf for free? Find a free golf course near you if there is one.
How To Play Golf For Free?
Start working part-time at the golf club
All golf clubs give their employees either free or high discounted rounds of golf and your best way of being able to play golf for free on a consistent basis by getting a part-time job at your local golf club.
Go into the golf club and ask if they have any jobs going. Now, I’m not saying quit your day job, I’m saying look for a job that matches your free time, and in exchange, you get to earn some extra cash and play golf for free, it’s a major win-win.
Perhaps you can marshall at weekends, or open and close the driving range, work with the groundskeeper a few mornings a week.
If you own a business or have some special skills, perhaps the golf club needs someone with your expertise to help them out? It’s always worth asking and you can exchange some of your time and skills for free golf.
Promote the golf course on Instagram
If you have enough Instagram followers who love golf then you will most likely be able to exchange promoting your local golf course on Instagram for free rounds of golf.
This is not an overnight solution to playing free golf but if you get it right, it could mean free golf for life.
All you need to do is create an Instagram account that is specific to golf and the golf club’s location. Start posting and build up your followers until you have a few thousand followers who love golf and live close by.
Now, it’s crunch time and you need to sell your Instagram account to the golf club. Tell them that in exchange for playing at the club for free you’ll send out posts and stories every time you play for hundreds or even thousands of your followers to see.
Chances are, they will go for it as it costs them nothing and they’re getting great exposure.
Find used golf balls and give them to the golf club
Golf clubs love to have a pile of used golf balls on hand so that they can add them to their driving range balls and sell them as second-hand balls to their members.
If you go out onto the golf course, outside of the hours of play, and find a pile of lost golf balls and then give them to the golf club for free, you’ll be in their good books.
You might have to spend a while walking around the woods or snorkeling in the lake to find a couple hundred but giving them to the club means they can now sell them at 100% profit and they’re sure to reward you with a few free rounds of golf in exchange, just make sure to ask or make it obvious that that is the deal.
Make sure to have a constant stream of golf balls to deliver to them if you want to continue getting free rounds of golf. Your best bet is to spend a few hours a week building up a stash. Make sure you polish them before taking them to the club too, as that’s like a cherry on top.
How to get free golf clubs
Now that we have run through how to play golf for free, how do you get come clubs for free too? Go looking for hand-me-downs.
Before you rush off and buy your first set of cheap golf clubs which will be poor quality and most likely not last too long, look to your family first. Golfers are notorious for hoarding clubs over the years and most families have at least one person in the same that took up golf and stick with it.
It might be your uncle or your grandfather, but it’s always worth asking if they have a set of clubs you can use to get you started. They’re not going to give you their new golf clubs but I’m sure they’d love to donate the old ones they haven’t played with for years.
Another great tip is to ask their wife, as she has probably been trying to get those clubs out the house for years, and you’re likely to get a lot more golf clubs than you’d have expected.
How to get free golf balls
We have already discussed how to get free golf balls, go and find the lost ones on the course. If you’re not donating them back to the golf club for free rounds then you can create a stockpile that’ll last you a year in just a few evenings.
If you are donating them to the course for free rounds of golf, keep the 10 best balls you find on each search mission so you are constantly topped up.
How to use the driving range for free
Most members of a golf club get some free driving range tokens included with their membership every month. If you’re friendly with a member then you can ask if he/she has any spare ones you could use. If that’s the case, make sure to buy the first round of drinks or give them a pack of new balls now and then to say thanks.
Another way to play at a driving range for free is a little cheeky, and it does happen, but I am not advising you to do it. Some higher-end golf clubs have a driving range that is 100% free for their members and there isn’t much to stop you from pulling up with your clubs, grabbing some range balls, and driving them into the range.
If someone asks if you’re a member simply say you’re new in town and on the waitlist, but wanted to check out the golf club and had no idea that the driving range was private, what a cool thing for members.
You can also apologize and just say that you had no idea it was private and you were wondering where to pay. The worst thing that’s going to happen is they’ll ask you to leave, but chances are they won’t notice.
Again, I’m not recommending this option but people do it and get away with it.
Can you play golf for free?
In essence, you most certainly can play golf for free but it’s always going to cost you something whether it’s your time searching for balls or using Instagram, or working at the golf club. So it’s never completely free but it’s a hell of a lot less expensive to play golf if you follow all the tips laid out above.
In my eyes, your best bet is to work at the golf club part-time, especially if you’re young. If you build a good enough relationship with everyone there, you will probably end up with a free membership, even when you have to move away or don’t have the time to work there anymore.