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OPINION: The spring golf dilemma: Membership or pay-as-you-play?

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Jamie Cockerham

Now that spring is here again I have to decide: Do I get a membership at a golf club, or just play all the different courses around Sarnia-Lambton?

I’ve done both. And we have a lot of choice, with about 35 different courses within 50 kilometres of Sarnia, if you count those in the U.S.

Last year, I had a membership and played more than 100 rounds. My wife (yes, you can play that much golf and still be married) said our group was obsessed with the game, which to her meant ‘crazy,’ and I agreed.

So I have some big considerations to think about. I have clubs and equipment already, so that part’s taken care of, but what about the club rules?
Do I want to go out and buy a Rickie Fowler outfit just to be allowed on a high-end course, or wear my cutoff jeans and 12-year-old T-shirt (I love that shirt)?

Then there’s the question of travel.
Now that I’m retired we’re down to one vehicle, so I can’t be gone and leave my wife with no transportation. One hundred rounds of golf, OK. Wife left at home with no ride, not OK.

So I have to decide how to get to these golf courses by bumming transportation, and the key word here is ‘bum.”

And what about time required?

It normally takes about four hours to play 18 holes of golf, or about the same time as a union meeting. And we all know it could be longer, with a light lunch and some Cokes after, plus the time needed to get to the course and back. (Go back and read, “wife left at home with no ride.”)

A second vehicle isn’t going to happen because then I couldn’t afford to play golf. Which brings up cost.

In the Sarnia area, I could go top-end and pay about $5,000 for a yearly, unlimited golf membership (wearing my Rickie Fowler outfit), or I could go low-end and pay $15 for 18 holes in my Larry-the-Cable-Guy outfit.
The condition of the course matters as well, and there is an easy way to determine that. If you shoot a good score that day the course was in great condition and difficult to play. If you have a bad outing, the course needs a greens-keeper that knows what he’s doing.
People will do what suits their lifestyle. For me, what it comes down to is this — I want to play where it’s fun, and I want to play with others who make it fun.

Life is too short to play a game that makes you complain about it afterward.

So whatever you decide to do, remember that golf is just a game, or as they say, a good walk spoiled.

Jamie Cockerham is an avid golfer who lives in Sarnia



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