How to earn your Green Jacket on a budget

It’s golf’s annual siren call. 
The Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
For one week in April, the intoxicating clink of a dimpled ball falling into a cup amid the serene sounds of birds chirping through springtime azaleas can be the rejuvenating potion to lure men, women, and children off the couch and into closets and garages in the search for those trusted and rusted golf clubs that were sworn off never to be swung again.
It is indeed a tradition unlike any other: the spring inspiration to get out and golf.
“We are not talking about elite-level, ‘I want my kid to be the next Jordan Spieth,’ golf.,” said Jay Karen, the CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association located on Daniel Island. “Just, how do we pick up a club, learn about it, and get started?”
Karen said “There are so many affordable ways to get introduced and oriented into the game,” with the easiest, he said, being the recent blend of gaming and golf. 
“There has been a development in the golf industry the last five to 10 years that is catching fire,” he said. “We dub it golf entertainment.”
Places like TopGolf or Toptracer ball-tracking ranges or indoor golf simulators combine golf with high-tech software and graphics with no initial need to buy clubs, rent a cart, or walk a golf course.
“If you are looking for affordability, go there on off-peak hours and just beat balls and practice,” Karen said.
“These golf simulators are impressive- the graphics, the ball dispensing, the mats you hit off. All of it. And it’s a no-embarrassment zone.” 
Karen said it’s a great way for people to get introduced to a game that can, at times, have a “stuffy” perception.
“You are not going to be thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what are the rules here? Do I have to tuck my shirt in? Do I have to put my hat forward instead of backward?’” he said. After giving it a shot, “then, they may say, ‘I want to go try the, quote-unquote, real thing,’ and get out on the golf course.”
Once the move is made to an actual course, Karen said there are plenty of programs offering discounted golf for both kids and adults. 
He points to First Tee of Greater Charleston.
“It’s more about learning life skills through golf,” he said. “They really use golf as the context to learn all kinds of life skills, while picking up the game at the same time. It’s a one-two punch for parents.”
Karen also suggests checking out the website “There, you can put in your zip code and pull up a variety of programs that might be in the area.”
Programs from the website include the PGA Junior League, PGA Hope for veterans and service members, and Operation 36, a group lesson helping golfers shoot par (36) or better on a 9-hole course.
“You start out by learning how to putt and chip, and then you move back 25 yards, do it a little bit longer, and move back and move back, until you master the short game into the long game.”
Finally, Karen said don’t forget to check city and county parks and rec programs for summer camps, discounted bulk lessons with local PGA and LPGA teaching pros and  training videos on YouTube. And he said make phone calls to all area courses as “every golf course, private and public, has some kind of program.”

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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