Golf is one of the oldest, and classiest sports in the world and its popularity is only continuing to grow each year. Although the game itself has changed very little in the past 100 years, the clubs, swing styles, clothing, and technology have all changed significantly in the past few decades. One thing that seems to always been on the cutting edge are the new golf gadgets. These gadgets often include things like new technology or new designs that are marketed to help improve your game, whether it be as a scratch golfer or an 18+ handicap. Each year there are new and exciting golf gadgets that become available. Many of these make great Fathers Day or birthday gifts but, like almost everything with golf, they can get pretty expensive.
Because golf is already such an expensive sport in general, it's important to find ways to cut costs when possible. That's where this list will try to provide information on which gadgets are a waste of money and which gadgets you should splurge on to help keep some cash in your wallet, while still keeping you fully prepared for anything you will face out on the golf course. This list should be able to apply to just about any golfer, no matter what your skill level or handicap is. While this list try to be inclusive as possible, please state in the comments section what gadgets you keep in your golf bag that you believe help your game. Hopefully this article helps improve your golf game while do so on a budget.
20 Waste Of Money: Alignment Sticks
You have probably noticed some players using those nicely designed alignment sticks to help them practice their setup stance and direct their aiming. While these alignment sticks are not that expensive (usually around $10 if buying at a pro-shop), they are really a cost that does not have to be covered at all if you instead just use your own golf clubs as alignment sticks.
Yep, just go with the original alignment tool by using a separate club to line up your stance and aim.
There is no need to buy actual alignment sticks if you're comfortable using the clubs already in your bag.
19 Worth The Splurge: Cooling Towels
Unless you live in an area where golf is a year round sport (think Florida, Arizona, California, etc.) odds are you will spend most of your time out on the links during the midst of summer. While summer golf is great, the higher temperatures can become uncomfortable and lead to a faster rate of physical exhaustion out on the course, so the cooler you can stay, the better.
The technology of cooling towels is incredible as these fabrics tend to stay very cold for long periods of time. Simply hang these towels around the back of your neck in between shots and stay cool all round long.
18 Waste Of Money: Ball Marking Stencils
We all have seen these ball marking stencils on sale near the checkout counter at your local pro-shop or golf store and thought "oh, those are kind of cool." If you like to customize your golf ball markings so you know it's yours, there are better options then these stencils however. The stencils require a sharpie type pen and seem super easy, but in reality the dimples on the golf ball distort the stencil design and leave you with a design that looks nothing like the sample golf balls you saw on the packaging. Simply put, these stencils will always look better in your mind then they do on the course.
17 Worth The Splurge: Customized Golf Balls
If you're hellbent on having custom marks on your golf ball that are more than just a few dots here and there, go ahead and splurge the extra few bucks it cost to have your golf balls customized. Most online orders for golf balls will allow a customization for just a few dollars per dozen balls.
These laser printed designs will be much clearer and look much nicer than anything a sharpie could perform.
One fun customization that young golfers can put on is "HEAD DOWN" to remind them to not pull their head up during their swing. These customized balls can also make great golf gifts.
16 Waste Of Money: Golf Club Cleaning Solution
This has to be one of the biggest ripoffs on the market. All that is required to clean a golf club thoroughly is some water and an old towel. I worked in outside service at a prestigious golf course in Arizona during college, so you can take my word that all we ever used to clean clubs was water and a rag. If you want to get fancy, you can add a tiny drop of liquid soap to the bucket of water if it makes you feel any better. The more important step is to be proactive with cleaning your clubs by wiping them with your bag towel after hitting a chunk or out of the bunker.
15 Worth the Splurge: Rangefinders
This is definitely a splurge when it comes to paying for golf technology as rangefinders are often $100-400. But if you're serious about taking your game to the next level, range finders can be crucial to determining just how far you are away from the pin when out on your round. They are even more important, however, during practice sessions. Use a rangefinder to help pick a target out on the range and determine exactly how far away it is. This will quickly help you figure out which clubs to hit for each yardage. No more second guessing which club to hit during your weekly round. New GPS enabled watches are also very cool for on course yardage.
14 Waste Of Money: Swing Training Devices
We have all seen some of the swing training devices that are promoted at golf stores and on infomercial on the golf channel.
Some of these devices look pretty interesting and are certain to make you look foolish when using them, but that doesn't mean they are helping reconstruct your swing in any way.
In fact, many of these swing devices have no actual statistics/testing regarding how well they work or how they will actually help your golf game.
If you have a swing trainer that you believe actually helps, then stick with it. But for the rest of you, don't buy into the infomercial hype.
13 Worth the Splurge: Golf Lessons
Instead of spending a lot of money on gimmicky swing training devices, it would be a lot more beneficial and a better value to just go ahead and get golf lessons. Golf lessons can be a bit taboo for many golfers because they get nervous or embarrassed about showing their swing off to a "professional." The only problem with this is that these teaching pros love to help and many will explain to you why you are slicing or hooking the ball of the tee before showing you how to correct it.
Having a trusted swing coach to be able to reach out to from time to time will make a huge difference in the long-run. Tip: Groupon often has excellent deals for pre-paid golf lessons.
12 Waste Of Money: Latest And Greatest Golf Balls
Technology is seen everywhere in the game of golf these days as each company always boast some radical new advancement to their clubs, clothing, or golf balls that makes it the new "latest and greatest" product on the market. While sometimes these claims are actually true (mostly when it comes to driver technology if we are being honest), the truth is that most average golfers won't ever notice the difference. This is never more evident than with golf balls.
Some golf balls are billed as the best like the Titleist Pro-V1. It's the classic golf ball of professional golf and it is admittedly a great ball. But if you're a 15 handicap, there will be no difference between using a Titleist Pro-V or a Maxfli on your score at the end of the day. Save some money, skip the high-priced balls.
11 Worth the Splurge: Prescription Sunglasses
If you are dependent on prescription glasses in your day to day life, it makes sense to splurge the extra money in order to have prescription sunglasses.
Not only will this ease the strain on your eyes during a round, they often have very cool, athletic styles available nowadays.
Another added bonus of having prescription sunglasses out on the golf course is it will make it much easier to track your ball flight, which will hopefully cut down on the amount of lost balls out on the course. Plus you will be shocked at how easily you can read the greens when you have a nice set of prescription sunglasses. Just do it, your eyes (and crow's feet) will thank you later.
10 Waste Of Money: Expensive Ball Markers
The only time it's acceptable to purchase expensive ball markers (expensive being anything more than $10 or so since all ball markers are relatively cheap) is for a memento or keepsake from a particular course. In fact, it's actually a cool thing to see people collect things like decorative ball markers from the favorite courses they've played. But in the day to day golf world, it's always best to just use a classic lucky quarter or nickel. The idea of using a coin is a relic in golf and will always be in style out on the course. With ball markers, the motto should always be: the simpler, the better.
9 Worth The Splurge: Swing Video Apps
The increases in cell phone technology have been incredible over the past decade and you can see this in the available golf technology. This is no more evident than with iPhone applications designed to offer swing analytics and ball-tracking technology. While these don't work as well as a Trackman device (which cost upwards of $10,000 each), they are very good value at only $10 or under. Not only can these video applications help you practice and fine tune your swing, they are also just simply fun to mess around with and make cool swing videos.
8 Waste Of Money: Golf Carts
Golf carts can be a waste of money... depending on the course itself. Some courses you essentially need a golf cart because they were not designed to be walked through (yes, there really are courses that require a golf cart), but most courses in the United States are very walkable.
Walking the golf course is one of the most time-founded traditions of golf and is still adhered to today by the PGA Tour.
Not only is walking a tradition, it's a great form of exercise during the round. Besides those reasons, it will also help save you about $10-20 in cart fees every time you play. Have some fun, skip the cart.
7 Worth The Splurge: Compact Bluetooth Speaker
While golf traditions are classic and should be adhered to as much as possible, one of them can be looked over for the sake of a good time and that is music on the course. Some of you reading this right now are rolling your eyes because you are the type that hates when another foursome rolls by you blasting their music and you're entitled to your opinion. But golf is supposed to be fun and adding some music and beverages always helps set some good vibes. If you do prefer to ride in a cart, at least invest in a quality and durable bluetooth speaker so that you can rock out while you play.
6 Waste Of Money: Fancy Golf Bags
A golf bag is something that should be light, durable and comfortable carry around the golf course should you choose to walk. Too often, people get infatuated by the tour bags that the pros use that are massive, heavy, and uncomfortable unless you're a professional caddy that makes a living lugging those things around. Also, the golf bag is just there to hold your clubs and your personal items so the name brand really shouldn't matter, especially since the quality level is usually about the same between high priced golf bags and low-to-medium priced options. Save some money and go with a cheaper, comfortable bag instead of the expensive, flashier bag.
5 Worth The Splurge: Hand/Pocket Warmers
For those of you that play golf in colder climates, these little babies are well worth the $5 a pop splurge. The hand/pocket warmers that are often sold anywhere and everywhere will come in handy on those frigid golf mornings. Not only do these help keep your body temperature comfortable, they keep your fingers warm and nimble for each golf shot.
It's well worth the extra money to stock up on these, but don't buy too many at once as they do have an expiration date and will fade with time.
If you want to really splurge, go with a golf designed fleece hand sleeve (shown above) as it is very similar to what NFL quarterback wear around their waist in cold weather games.
4 Waste Of Money: Groove Sharpener
There are these nifty looking tools that some golf stores and pro shops sell that look almost like a switch blade. Despite making you look tough should some psycho want to confront you for playing too slow/fast (we have all had to deal with one of those people before), these groove sharpener's are a serious waste of money. While there is certainly a necessity to keep your club grooves clean and sharp to help improve the spin on your ball, this can be done by simply taking a new golf tee and lightly scraping side to side inside the groove. Just do this quick groove cleaning before each round and you're good to go.
3 Worth The Splurge: New Golf Club Grips
Honestly, if there is any advice that you take away today in regards to splurging on your golf game it is probably: #1 Don't be afraid to get golf lessons and #2 Get your clubs re-gripped. Most golfers have no idea just how worn their club grips are until they grab somebody else's newly gripped clubs. The difference is often night and day and this improved grip can make a huge difference in your ball striking. Plus it's fun getting new grips, as you can pick and choose different styles, colors, and feels. If you want an early holiday present, ask for your clubs to be re-gripped.
2 Waste Of Money: Iron Head Club Covers
People that use a head cover on each individual iron are like people with two first names: they just can't be trusted. Seriously, the first sign of psychopathy is using individual iron covers. While I'm obviously kidding, I truly do believe there is no good purpose for having iron head club covers.
Driver and wood club covers make sense to me as they are more fragile and hollowed out.
If you want to keep your irons shiny and beautiful, go right ahead. But at least take them off for the entire round instead of putting them on and off after each shot... it's just annoying. Maybe I'm the only one that feels this way but it's just too much.
1 Worth The Splurge: Pre-Paid Range Passes
This is a splurge initially but ultimately ends up saving you money in the long-run if you actually use all of the pre-paid buckets on your range pass.
While it's a steep cost to pay upfront, you're saving a couple of dollars on each bucket each time and that helps the wallet in the end.
Plus having a pre-paid range pass just makes it feel like you are more official and will motivate you to go the driving range and practice more. Like the old-saying goes, "practice makes perfect." So go ahead and splurge for the range pass today. You can thank me later.