Why is Golf So Expensive…Or Is It? Clever Tips to Save BIG

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In this article, we cover key tips on why is golf so expensive or is it?…

Why is Golf So Expensive….Or Is It?

Is the idea of golf being an expensive sport scaring you off? Well, in many ways it could be true but in others, it is just the opposite.

I was fortunate that I became acquainted with the game of golf when I was nineteen years old. My boyfriend at the time picked up a very used set of basic clubs for me to use.

He was already an avid golfer with a low handicap, so introducing me to the game must have been quite challenging. He would take me to a driving range, show me how to hit the golf ball, then sit back and have a beer.

During this period golf for me was cheap. A basket of driving range balls were probably a dollar and the equipment expense was minimal; but like everything, prices have gone up. However, that should not deter you from joining in on all of the fun!

Perhaps you are thinking prices have gone up and can I afford it?  Well, let’s give one of man’s oldest sports a consideration.

Getting Started: Golf Equipment

Several of the primary reasons why golf is so expensive (or is it?) is due to greens fees, golf equipment, golf lessons, and golf accessories.

First, let’s get a list together to see what this will cost. If money is no object, this article is not for you; this concerns the average Joe or Jane who would like to try out the game of golf before good money is plunked down on expensive equipment or fancy country club fees.

According to a survey performed by GOLF.com, 43.8% of golfers spend between $500 and $1000 per year on equipment. Also, 40.1% of golfers spend less than $500 per year. Most golfers will only buy an entire set of new golf clubs once or twice. Here’s where I can help.

Golf Clubs

Let’s begin with what you need. You will need golf clubs consisting of a golf driver, fairway woods, golf irons, golf wedges, and a putter.

Your golf clubs could be your costlier item but as my boyfriend did for me, found a very inexpensive set at a Mom and Pop golf shop. You could do the same but other alternatives are Marketplace (Facebook), eBay, garage sales, or neighborhood websites.

By quickly scanning the Marketplace I found in my area of St. Petersburg, FL many sets of used golf clubs including bags for around $100. Not too shabby of a price for a new hobby.

Golf Accessories

Ok, golf clubs are purchased, now you need the rest:

  • Golf Shoes
  • Golf Bag
  • Golf Gloves
  • Golf Tees
  • Golf Balls

A few of these golf accessories can easily cost over $100, while others are closer to $10 per item. All of these items can be picked up inexpensively at Amazon, or a golf store such as PGA TOUR Superstore or TGW

My husband swears by recycled balls and never pays for new balls. He loves Golf Ball Nut where he has been buying used balls for years.

He loves playing with Titleist Pro V1 golf balls but refuses to pay their new retail price of over $50 a dozen, so he uses recycled Pro V1 balls for a fraction of the price.

⛳️ Pro Tip: If you’re looking to save big on new golf clubs, wait until golf manufacturers release their new clubs which usually occurs in January or February. Or if you don’t mind purchasing used clubs, you can save a boatload from eBay or PGA TOUR Superstore.

Golf Lessons and Clinics

why is golf so expensive - showing a sign that says expenses and scissors cutting into the sign with money.
Why is golf so expensive?

Now let’s give this golf stuff a try. If you are a true novice, golf lessons may be in order. Most golf courses offer lessons ranging in price. I have found the average lesson, depending on your area of the country, ranges from $30 to $75 an hour.

Another option is the outstanding program called Get Golf Ready designed and instructed by PGA and LPGA professionals. It is offered at PGA Golf Club and also at PGA TOUR Superstores throughout the country.

According to the PGA Superstore’s site, you get 6-one hour golf lessons with a small group. The group led by a PGA Pro teaches the students on a golf course the basics of golf. These invaluable sessions were priced at $99 for the lessons, not including any golf course charges such as cart or green fees.

Golf clinics are offered at numerous golf courses. The clinics are group lessons where golfers are all taught the same thing. The course I play offers a one-hour golf clinic once a week. For as low as $15 dollars, you can hone your game with the latest methods.

Public Golf Courses

Now that the preliminaries are done, you will want to hit the course and try out your new skills. Golf courses are public, semi-private, or private.

Personally, I would begin with my local public course and see if this sport is right for me. Some areas offer executive courses (short courses with mainly par 3s), which would be ideal, they are a lot less intimidating and the green fees are lower in price. I spent a good six months on an executive course before I felt I was ready to graduate to a long 18-hole golf course.

Short courses are great for working on your short game and they also serve as a confidence builder for the new golfer.

Driving Range Fees

Using a driving range occurs fees unless you are a member of a private golf course. However, public golf courses can offer practice ball memberships where you can hit balls at a set fee.

One way non-members can save is by practicing at home with backyard practice tools. Additionally, golf training aids you can use anywhere can also help with practice.

Greens Fees

showing a photo of green golf course
Green fees and other costs can add up

To save money on greens fees, you can join a private country club as a member. Annual membership fees may allow you to play the course for the entire golf season.

Some courses also offer year-round golf cart usage for an additional one-time fee. Private golf courses vary in price; many require an initiation fee which is nonrefundable along with monthly dues.

Joining in Non-Peak Times | Summer Season

In addition, some private golf courses offer special incentives such as joining for the summer season and then giving you the option to become a full member. These options are not a bad idea as it gives the golfer the ability to try out the club and facilities before making a full commitment to join.

Public and semi-private courses charge different fees based on the time of day. Peak greens fees are set during the busiest times of the day.

Senior Golf Discounts

Another way you can save money on greens fees is to play at certain off times. Most courses offer early bird and twilight greens fees. Some courses offer a senior discount.

For example, when I was golfing in Highland, Michigan the public golf course Highland Hills offers the following to senior golfers.

Senior Golfers Monday thru Friday (Open – 3 pm)WalkRide
9 Holes$10.00$17.00
18 Holes$12.00$23.00

They also have a special rate of $560 per year rate for green fees for senior golfers. All the golf you want to play (if you can imagine)! If you choose to rent a golf cart there would be an additional fee.

Golf Leagues

Golf leagues are another inexpensive way to join other golfers. Most public courses offer leagues to fit most people (from beginner to experienced golfers), there is likely a league to fit your needs.

As a working girl years ago I lucked upon a women’s league at a short executive course. The league was called “Night Swingers” because all of us gals had jobs and playing late in the day was our only option.

The league taught me a great deal about golf rules and competitiveness which made me a better player. Other positives of joining leagues are meeting new like-minded people, games organized, and discounts on green fees, in some cases.

Discount Cards and Residency Cards

Another super way of saving money is the “discount card” for golfers. This is a card that is good for one year and gives you discounts to many different golf courses.

For instance, for $99 you can purchase the Players Pass golf card and play for a discounted rate. My husband, Pat, pays about the same at Big Summer Golf. He can play different courses all over South Florida with reduced green fees.

Resident discount cards are frequently available but little known to many. In my county of Pinellas, St. Petersburg residents can enjoy 30% off green fees and 10% off merchandise with a resident discount card at participating golf courses. You might be surprised to find out you have similar discounts in your area!

🌴 Pro Tip: If you like golf vacations, save big time by playing golf off-season. Disney Golf Courses in Orlando, Florida have steep discounts in late summer.  

Golf Cart Fees

Purchasing a golf pull cart certainly can save on golf cart rental fees. Not all golf courses accept push carts so you may want to check on that before you buy.

In addition, many public courses offer a golf pull cart for a fee. Why not rent one for 9 holes to see if this is something you should invest in? 

An average golf course of 18 holes is roughly a distance of 5 miles, so walking the course and swinging the club is some incredible exercise.

🏌️‍♂️ Read Next: Why is Golf So Fun? 8 Reasons Golfers Truly Love The Game

Final Thoughts on Why Golf is So Expensive or Is it?

Overall, golf can be both an expensive or inexpensive sport, it is strictly up to you in regards to how much you want to spend.

Oftentimes people forget it’s also a lifelong sport. Technically speaking you could use a lot of the same golf equipment for decades saving you significantly more money than some hobbies where you need new supplies. Plus, not many sports you can play in the later years of life.

Either way, it is a wonderful healthy hobby that benefits nearly everyone by getting them out in the fresh air, exercising, and socializing. To me, those things alone are worth every penny you spend on the wonderful game of golf.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are greens fees so expensive?

Green fees cover the costs the golf course incurs to maintain the course and pay the groundskeepers. Without these fees, we would have no course to play. Altogether, greens fees can feel expensive on a regular basis. 

Greens fees may seem expensive because a golf course is an expensive piece of property. Golf courses take up hundreds of acres of land. All of this land including hazards needs to be maintained properly. 

Is golf a rich man’s sport?

Golf is not just a rich man’s sport. Truly it can be enjoyed by everyone, young and old. However, golf is a sport that is as expensive as you make it. You can use used clubs and used golf balls while playing on a public golf course. Certainly, it is not a free sport. It is also not like basketball or cycling where you can find free facilities. Ultimately, the game of golf is what you make it as provided in our examples of cheap ways to play golf.

Is golf the most expensive game?

A comparison of the total cost of each sport was analyzed. Golf is often on the list of expensive sports, but it truly depends on how you decide to play your golf game (i.e. latest golf equipment and expensive golf courses). However, it is not the most expensive sport. Skiing and tennis are more expensive sports than golf.

How much does it cost a year to play golf?

Many of these costs are one-time costs or once in a blue moon. However, some of the other costs will occur yearly.

Greens fees on average can cost between $20 and $1000 a year depending on the golf course. These fees are mitigated by membership fees that run from $5000 to $200,000 per year. Other yearly costs are for golf balls, golf attire, and driving range fees.

How much does the average golfer spend per year?

When we add all the figures together, the average golfer will spend approximately $2,500 per year in total expenses.

Golf is an excellent sport to venture into no matter what your age. However, there are a number of expenses you must accept when it comes to the sport.

Interesting Golf Articles to Read Next

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Colleen was born in Michigan and has been playing golf since she was 19 years old. She currently has a 12 handicap and is continually striving to improve her game. As a Senior Golfer, she spends her time playing golf, writing and investigating new golf courses.

1 thought on “Why is Golf So Expensive…Or Is It? Clever Tips to Save BIG”

  1. It’s called greed! So why does it cost a lot more to play a golf course that is less well maintained (crappy course) than a golf course that is well maintained (nice course)? Again, Greed! The average person can not afford to play golf on a regular basis now adays. Us retirees on a fixed income used to could afford to play on a regular basis but not any more. These green fees are getting outragous and are pushing many like myself away from and out of the game. What a shame when this is what I enjoy in life.


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