How to play golf during a recession

By Dan Jenkins Illustrations by Tamara Shopsin
March 24, 2009

The other day, in my continuing effort to survive in these dire economic conditions, I was forced to sell my new $3,000 driver on the Internet. It went for $17.23 to the highest bidder. But it put food on the table. This got me to thinking that I should write a guide for other recreational golfers on how to continue enjoying golf while coping with the current Depression. I'm happy to say that Golf Digest purchased the guide from me for $6.14. Herewith I offer a few excerpts:

Resign from your country club, now. I know you paid $100,000 to join after staying on the waiting list for five years, at $6,500 a year, but you really don't need those monthly dues of $542, plus the new chef has made the fried chicken taste like trout amandine.

Think of it this way: With only one month's dues you might be able to buy a two-story, five-bedroom house in an elegant neighborhood in 2012.

Do not regret the loss of status. Most economists are betting that within three years you'll be able to rejoin your country club for $50.

Rid yourself of those other expensive clubs in your bag. Just guessing, but you can probably get $24 for that $10,000 set of irons made out of enriched uranium from Iran, $18 for the $5,000 hybrid that was constructed out of a Lance Armstrong bicycle, and maybe 10 bucks for your $8,000 mallet putter with the head that's a replica of a roving lunar module.

In these desperate times there are less-flamboyant woods and irons and putters to take with you to the public courses where you will be playing.

Think brassie. Think baffy. Think mashie. Think niblick. For a putter, you probably would prefer to dig out the old Bulls Eye or Cash-In, but smart money would try to find a rusted Wright & Ditson blade with loft.

If you're simply too caught up in the rancid economy, you might want to consider dying.'

Why? Because the muny greens you play--yes, I'm reintroducing the word muny--will be mowed only once a week, if that, and the loft will come in handy on those testy six-footers.

You will like muny golf. Among other things, it will bring back memories of your younger days before you became a CEO with off-shore banking concerns, the carefree time when you went to work every night with only a .38, a ski mask and a getaway car.

The muny green fees shouldn't be more than 50 cents for 18 holes throughout this decade. However, even they can be avoided once you've slimmed down from hunger and find it possible to get on the course by sliding under the wire fence at No. 3.

Of course, there are two other ways to sneak on.

There is the creek you can enter from behind Fred's Donuts and Wonton that will take you under the bridge and lead you to a spot just below No. 8. But the stones you will have to step on to keep from falling into one of the deep areas can be awfully slippery, which might even be more difficult with a golf bag slung over your shoulder.

And then there's the storm drain you can enter at the side of Wanda's Ceramics and Pantyhose that will bring you out reasonably close to No. 12. On lazy days when you can't seem to interest anyone in a lively 10-cent nassau, you can look for lost golf balls. Muny courses are a haven for this sort of fun. In a single afternoon recently I came home with a virtual treasure chest of Spalding Kro-Flites, Maxfli Reds, Hagen Honey Centers, Uniroyals and half a dozen Po-Dos.

If none of this interests you, if you're simply too caught up in the rancid economy, you might want to consider dying.

It certainly relieves you of any worries about your massive debt or what appears to be a portfolio that's well beyond rescue. I have actually looked into it, where my own faith is concerned, and have been assured that in the Hereafter there are no three-putt greens, no water hazards, enchiladas are on the lunch menu every day, and your dog speaks English.