Nina Smith

Why lesbians should play tennis instead of golf

Filed By Nina Smith | August 15, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: money

"I play more tennis than golf now." - Greg Norman, who recently married Chris Evert

Like typical lesbians, my partner and I enjoy the game of golf. But with each round, I'm always conscious of the cost. After all, my money personality feels tested every time we shell out $75 to $150 to tee off at a nice public course in Orange County or Palm Desert.

We recently used a gift certificate that offered two rounds at a nearby course. We had never played at this club before so I asked the guy in the pro shop how much a round cost. His reply: $178 a piece! We had a fantastic time, but not 356 dollars worth of fun... especially if I was the one paying for it.

No matter how you slice it, golf is expensive. My partner would likely play more, but I'm the one holding us back from a money perspective. Whenever she suggests that we play, my first reaction is always, "I don't want to spend the money."

She wins out about 5 or 6 times a year: usually because it gets tagged on as part of a weekend in Palm Springs. I'm an easy target when pool-lounging-in-the-desert is part of the package. I'm less likely to want to play when we can be doing other things that are free around Southern Cal... like riding our bikes, going for a hike or playing tennis.

Each time I pick up a club, I'm often reminded of the interview I did with Deb Price, a syndicated columnist writing about gay issues. I had read that she and her partner had paid off their mortgage and asked her how they cut back over the years to live below their means. She answered:

The "tennis lesson" is incredibly valuable. We've played tennis for 22 years, the length of our relationship, and now play on a gay doubles team in Washington, D.C., which throws in the priceless gift gay friends as well. We always travel with our tennis rackets, and we've played everywhere from the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris to the Old Cataract Hotel in Egypt that Agatha Christie fans will remember.

Tennis has brought us incredible joy, but at a teeny fraction of what golf would have cost. Our rackets are easily five years old at a combined cost of about $400, and we usually play on (free) public courts. All that saved money - added with taking lunch to work, buying gas on the cheaper side of town, abandoning "retail therapy" and rarely buying new clothes - is then freed up to have the splurge vacation, which is something we both really value.

It's true. We can outfit ourselves and play tennis for a whole year for what it costs to play two rounds at the above mentioned golf club. Besides, Slate magazine thinks golf is horrible for America:

There are enough overweight out-of-shape people as it is, and you get guys spending five hours on the few days they have off away from their families playing golf, and then going out to eat and drink afterward. It's horrible. There's a Cain-and-Abel element at play here. Golf and tennis are essentially sibling rivals, both raised in white polo shirts, one wielding a 9-iron, the other a wooden racquet, who, during the leisure boom after World War II, left their stuffy country club to seek fame and fortune on a larger scale.

Health reasons aside, Hank Greenberg and Carl Icahn think golf is horrible for American business:

"I hate golf," former AIG chairman Greenberg told the assembled crowd of investment bankers. "I play tennis. It doesn't take long. Then I get back to work."

After his talk we asked Greenberg about the popularity of golf among corporate executive.

"A lot of people like to get away from their work," he said. "You have to wonder about whether they like what they're doing."

Icahn, the legendary corporate raider turned shareholder activist, was even more dismissive of golf. For him golf players symbolized the kind of clubby, chummy corporate executive he thinks is dragging down American business.

"These guys would rather play golf, slap each other on the back," he said. "I want a guy running a company who sits in his tub at night thinking about the challenges he faces. The guy who can't let it go. The focused guy."

He has a point. Who has four hours to blow? Even on a weekend. Tennis provides a great form of entertainment at a fraction of the cost. What do you think? What are your sports costing you?

When Nina is not practicing her ground strokes, she can be found blogging about money over at Queercents.

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I prefer tennis too, and not just because it's a real sport, but also because it has a certain elegance to it that few other sports I've played have had.

I love golf. I will always love golf. There is a zen to it that pulls me in.

I also love tennis. If I want actual exercise? I play tennis. golf is not exercise. it is a mediation.

even if you walk.

Golf is for rich people. If you're not rich, don't waste your money.

My knees won't hold up on a tennis court anymore. As for golf, when I hit the ball, I have no idea where it's headed, but it will be a long ways away, and probably in sand, woods, or water. Not good.

A TS friend of mine and Monica R's took up competitive saber fencing a few years ago, and is now competing at the international level. Maybe take that up? I know the gear to do that is expensive. Same way for the shooting sports, but I admit enjoying the occasional day spent killing targets and clay pigeons.

I've decided to take up motorcycling, actually. I rode Elsinores back in my late teens and 20s, and have signed up for my MSF course - there's a pretty good waiting list in my area, but I want to knock the rust off and rediscover my old instincts on two wheels. Of course, that's expensive equipment, too, but at least it can be used to commute and travel on. I admit I've seen a fair amount of "family" riding these days.

Alex: I agree that tennis does have a certain refined and civilized quality to it. I don't find that with golf, where often times the guys queued up behind us are drinking beer and smoking stogies.

Sara: I love golf too, but it's the price you have to pay to get some of that zen.

Bil: Golf can be a waste of money... even for rich people.

Polar: Sounds like you've found something worth spending the money. Happy motoring.

$75 for 9 holes? No wonder you don't want to play!

Here in Indy, you can play at a very nice public course, 18 holes walking, for $18 during the week and $26 during the weekend. (The fact that I get a 50% discount on top of that due to my work makes it even better for me.) Certainly not a minor amount, but not too expensive for 3-4 hours in the sunshine.

The equipment is expensive; however, I have several friends who have accumulated thier entire collection in very short order at the Goodwill for under $50. Nice clubs, to boot.

And while I do like tennis, and golf has its issues regarding drunks on the course, I always get stuck on the tennis court next to the fools who keep hitting the ball in front of you.

I've played tennis ever since I watched Arthur Ashe win Wimbledon back in the mid 70's and watched Renee Richards' battle versus the USTA.

I was on my varsity tennis team in high school and still play from time to time. It doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment and there are plenty of free courts you can play on if you don't have the cash for a private membership.

Tennis can also be played indoors as well.