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By Gary S. Williams, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF® and Nicholas A. Ibello, CFP®, AIF®


Originally published in the Baltimore Business Journal: April 26, 2018

long-term investors and golf

Patience, persistence, and focus—the qualities that help long-term investors thrive in the markets— are advantageous on the golf course as well. Like investors, golfers are most successful when they can keep their emotions in check and adapt their strategy to face unexpected hazards. It’s no wonder investors are drawn to golf despite the commonly referenced quote by Raymond Floyd, “they call it golf because all the other four-letter words were taken.

It’s never too late to take up golf. Many people find their interest piqued around mid-career when they finally have enough free time to devote to a hobby. Golf combines exercise, fresh air, skill, challenge, and sometimes business opportunity. What’s not to love?

Of course, becoming a golfer requires an initial investment. New golfers generally purchase lessons, golf clubs, and appropriate attire, including shoes. Greens fees and other ongoing costs of playing can vary widely depending on how often you play and whether you choose public golf courses or a private club membership.  Golf can be an expensive hobby so, whether your budgeting your monthly expenses or forecasting your retirement lifestyle, it may make sense to consult a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to help you review your financial plan.

Lessons are key, and the best way to find an instructor is through word of mouth. Ask around, or check the online directories of Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. Don’t hesitate to ask if a country club’s instructor accepts non-members as students; many do. Take your time to find the right instructor at the right price for your budget. A lesson can run from $25 on the low end to $150 or more on the high end; buying a package can reduce the average cost per lesson.

Don’t rush to buy golf clubs until you have had a few lessons and decided you definitely want to play. Your golf clubs do not need to be brand new, but they do have to fit the player’s size, swing speed, and strength. Making an appointment with a certified clubfitter is helpful. They can be found at large retail chains, boutique golf shops, and at golf ranges, and Golf Digest maintains a free online directory. Getting fitted can run from $50 to $200 and equips new golfers with information on what grip type, head model, shaft flexibility and other features would help them get the most of out their game.

Armed with a list of golf clubs to purchase, golfers can buy them new or shop around for bargains. Golf pros can be a great source of leads for used clubs.  The rules of golf state that golfers can carry a maximum of 14 clubs. It’s perfectly OK to buy a full set, but beginners can get by with half as many, or what’s known as a “short set.” A typical short set will include a 3-wood, 3- and 5-hybrids, a 7-iron and 9-iron, and a putter. 

Golf, of course, can be time-consuming. For an experienced foursome, playing 18 holes typically requires around four hours. Playing nine or even six holes can be a great way for a novice to gain experience on the course. If you’re new and don’t want to feel rushed by the party behind you, call the course and ask what tee times would be best for a newer, slower player.

Once you’ve got the rhythm of the game, be prepared to fall in love with it. Your ultimate decision will be where to play, how often, and with whom. Public courses are more crowded and less expensive than country clubs, which usually charge initiation fees and annual dues. But time is money. Many players decide to join a country club to play quicker rounds, closer to home, with less hassle and more amenities, including the flexibility to entertain business associates and prospects. Great options abound, and many players keep one foot in each world.

Let the Certified Financial Planner™ professionals at Williams Asset Management help with your wealth management needs. Whether you need comprehensive and holistic financial planning or investment management, we can help!  We are fee-based, independent financial advisors located in Columbia, the heart of Howard County, Maryland.  Schedule your complimentary consultation today by calling (410) 740-0220!

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