Equally as important as ski partners is the actual water you will be skiing on. If you do not belong to a club or have your own private lake, you have to find water. Unfortunately, this means public water in most cases. Public water usually has other boaters on it and in some cases time restrictions on just when you can actually ski. These two limitations are very important because in order to avoid one of them (other boats on the water) you usually can't have the other (time restrictions). You need to be able to get out on the water either before the other boats get there or afterwards. For us, this might mean launching the boat at 7:30 AM on a Saturday or dropping it in at 7:30 PM on a weeknight. If we had time restrictions on the lake, the early runs would probably not be possible.
So, if you can find a lake with no time restrictions on it, outstanding. If not, dig around more. You might not even know about a lake in your area that is free of restrictions. Cue up Google Earth and take a look around. Remember that one lake you drive by on the way to your aunt's house up the road a bit? Check it out- it may be the lake you were looking for all this time. It might be a smaller lake that doesn't really appeal to most boaters because it is to small to cruise around on and tube. If you absolutely have no time-unregulated water in your area, then focus on the evening runs. Yes, you've had a long day at work. You feel tired and beat and don't really want to drag the boat through commuter traffic to the lake. Well, get out there and do it. Never discount that evening run to the lake in the summer- you'll have a couple of hours to ski some great water while the sun sets and you'll mentally be miles away from the office. We've had some of our best times on the water in the evenings.
If you want to get started in the course, you'll probably need one. I know we were apprehensive about purchasing a portable slalom course but we sure are glad that we did. We were worried about how long it would take to set up, how much of a hassle it would be, and how the other boaters and lake residents/associations would react to the course. Well, we've found that in multiple lakes people generally don't care that the course is there. It's totally temporary, and forces us to ski in one line rather than all over the lake. We have never run into an issue with the local authorities with the portable course either, but remember we're dropping it in either very early in the morning or in the evening. If there is any other boat traffic out on the lake, we don't even consider dropping the course in. We are always as friendly as possible to fishermen, which are about the only other people out on the water when we are. We are good enough at setting up the course that we can drop the whole thing in the water in under 20 minutes. It's easier than it looks once you get the hang of it.
We purchased our course from Ez-Slalom.com. I personally feel they make the nicest portable course out there and I can tell you from personal experience that it stands up to years of abuse. If you don't have any water big enough for a full course, why not get a half course or even a gates-1-2-gates course? You can always expand later and this setup will give you a feel for the course and the timing required to ski it.