For years now I’ve been meaning to golf more.

It’s not really possible to golf less than I have over the last few years. In 2018 I made it out to the course exactly zero times. 2017 was a little better; I went to the driving range once and played nine holes. I don’t think I played in 2016 and I maybe went out twice in 2015. Even from 2005 to 2015 I went out 2-3 times a year. I was hardly Tiger Woodsing the place up.

I used to basically live on the golf course. In high school, when I wasn’t working I was golfing. I’d even get up at 6am to be on the course for 6:30 in May and June during my last two years in high school so we could squeeze in nine holes before going to school. We’d be groggy all day, but it was worth it.

My grandparents also owned a golf course, so I’d be out there at least once a week. That was pretty outstanding, actually. I’d play 18 holes and get my grandma to cook me a nice meal. I’d spend time with my grandparents and I never paid a nickel for any of it. Cheap teenage Nelson was then able to direct his cash to more profitable pursuits.

Perhaps biased by those memories, about once a year I consider getting a golf membership again. Alas, the days of free golf are long gone. My local course charges between $2,000 and $2,500 annually, depending on the year and the number of perks you sign up for. That is a lot of money for entertainment that only realistically runs from May to September.

At that point it becomes pretty easy to talk myself out of it. $2,500 is a lot of money. For that much money I could get CFL season tickets and afford to stay in a hotel every time I go. I could pay for my annual gym membership and an annual swimming pool pass. Or I could buy two $20 books every week and still have snack money left over.

So I usually forget the idea before I start. I just can’t justify the expense. There are simply far cheaper ways to entertain yourself.

But then I start to think about it another way. If I write just one $50 article a week for a year, that’s enough to cover my gym membership. Working just three hours per week at my part-time grocery store job accomplishes the same thing. So I attempt to justify this additional expense by creating the income to cover it.

Is this a smart thing to do, or am I looking at things all wrong?

Pros

Essentially, I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too, at least from a financial perspective. If I work a little extra I can have what I want while keeping my savings rate relatively constant.

I think such an arrangement can also force you to appreciate the sacrifice, too. Every time you’re working those extra hours you’ll think about how they’re paying for something you enjoy.

And as long as your hobby doesn’t cost too much and you’re stuck working 80 hours a week to pay for it, you should have plenty of time for both. I could easily find the time to work one additional eight hour shift every three weeks to pay for a golfing habit.

Cons

Ultimately, this is a bit of a slippery slope. Why exactly do I need to take on extra work to do something I enjoy? Why can’t I just do it and then maybe cut back on travel or something else I spend money on?

Also golf is a sport that comes with more expenses than just paying for green fees. I wouldn’t be able to resist tasty golf course food. The course is about a 15 minute drive from my house and gas ain’t free. And are you even a real golfer without fancy new clubs and sleeves full of whatever the happening new ball is? You’ll get laughed off the green if you use Top Flite.

(I just googled Top Flite and all the results are model airplanes. It shows how long I’ve been away from golf)

And do I really want to golf that badly anyway, or is it the nostalgia talking? If I wanted to play, I would have found a way. Taking on a part-time job to afford some hobby creates two obligations, making it more likely I’ll just throw up my hands and abandon the whole exercise.

Should you do it?

There are basically a million hobbies that are free or damn close to it. There are a lot cheaper ways to go outside than doing it on a golf course.

But what about hobbies that you’ve been doing forever? Say you really like golf and you’d like to find a way to pay for it. Should you take on additional work to do so?

Maybe a hybrid approach is best. You’ll work harder during the winter to save a little more while you’re not golfing. Or you’ll accept an overtime shift at work once a month. This might help you pay for some of your hobby, but not all of it.

Ultimately, you’ve got to reward yourself or you’ll end up having a miserable life living in your basement. I say as long as you’re still reaching your financial goals, feel free to spend money on whatever hobby you desire. Except genealogy. This shit is dumb, yo.

Tell everyone, yo!