Golf is (Unfortunately) Expensive. Here Are The Reasons Why

Talk about expensive sports and golf is bound to come up. A set of golf clubs, lessons, membership, and green fees are exorbitant for the average person. That is why many individuals unfortunately steer clear of the game. In this post, I detail why golf is so expensive.

Now, as crazy as it seems, golf seems like a plebs game compared to polo, showjumping, sailing, and wingsuiting. Jokes aside, I am well aware that the cost of golf is high for many to justify splurging on.

 

The Costs Associated with Playing Golf

Clubs

Average cost: $370 – $3500

In a recent post, I covered the topic, how much is a good set of golf clubs? The results highlighted the wide range of prices depending on your skill level. New golfers can expect to drop $370 to $580 on a set of golf clubs or consider a pre-owned package.

Mid-handicappers should budget $1300 to $2000 for a new set of clubs. Alternatively, second-hand setups start at $680.

Finally, low handicap golfers may drop as much as $3500 on a complete set. Conversely, a second-hand package can total $2700.

If you look after your golf clubs, they can last decades. For example, my TaylorMade r540 irons and R5 woods are still operating 16 years after I took them out of the box. Plus, I have a Spalding putter I received in 1995, and it remains in fine knick.

The point is that you do not need to purchase golf clubs frequently. However, as your game improves, you may desire to switch up your equipment more regularly than a high handicapper.

Remember that you may need to replace the shaft and grip on some clubs multiple times in their life span. Grips set you back $6 to $15 per unit, while a shaft ranges from $30 to $150.

Balls

Average cost: $16 – $50 (Per dozen)

Per unit, golf balls offer the lowest of your equipment costs. But, the expenses can quickly rise if you are irresponsible. If you lose 6 to 10 balls every round of golf, you should stick to the bargain bin. Losing that many premium urethane-covered balls will cause your golf expenses to soar unnecessarily.

Golf balls range in price from approximately $16 to $50 for a box of 12. Affordable golf balls generally contain ionomer covers which are excellent for lowering spin and boosting distance.

Conversely, expensive golf balls are fitted with urethane covers that deliver exceptional greenside spin and control. Plus, they feature a core that lowers spin and increases ball speed on long game shots. Superior golfers prefer the all-around performance of premium dimples.

If you are conservative with your golf balls and rarely lose one, a box will last you three to four rounds. I donate 1 or 2 to the Golfing Gods every round, which means a dozen should carry me through 6-rounds. However, I need to employ a new ball every 6 to 9 holes because of scuffing.

However, there are ways to enjoy the game without breaking the bank. Our post on the 13 best cheap golf balls in 2022 is a suitable place to start.

Golf Tees

Average cost: $7 – $13 (Per 100)

Tees form part of the essential accessories required to play the game. Tees are a minor expense, and you only need to purchase them once in a blue moon. For example, a pack of 100 wooden tees lasts me 5 to 7 months. Since I play twice a week, that is fantastic value for money.

Gloves

Average cost: $13 – $35 (Per glove)

Golf gloves help us improve our traction to better control the club. This enables us to optimize power on the downswing for maximum clubhead speed. In addition, gloves reduce the risk of blisters and injuries on your palm.

Gloves are not the most expensive gear, but their lifespan is limited. They tend to wear and tear rapidly, requiring a new one every few months if you play frequently.

Leather gloves offer a superior feel and are moisture resistant. However, leather does not provide the level of breathability found in synthetic gloves. Generally speaking, Cabretta leather gloves fetch a higher price per unit than synthetic designs.

Driving Range

Average cost: $6 – $10 (Per Bucket of 100 Balls)

Constant practice is essential to improving your golf scores and lowering your handicap. I recommend fitting in one range session per week at least. This costs you between $6 to $10 for a bucket of 100 balls.

Clothing/Apparel

Average cost: $130 – $420 (Including a golf shirt, golf pants, golf shoes, and rain gear)

The cost of your gear can quickly add up if you opt for premium golf attire. However, you must budget for a golf shirt, pants, shoes, and rain gear. On the affordable side, you can get away with paying $130 to $150 for your golf equipment. Conversely, an expensive look can set you back as much as $420.

Golf Lessons

Average cost: $75 – $90 (1 hour lesson)

I highly urge every golfer to seek the assistance of a professional sooner rather than later. If you are just starting out, book a few coaching sessions, and learn how to play the game correctly. Conversely, seasoned golfers who have never had a lesson should have one to identify specific weaknesses in your swing.

In my experience, the average cost of a 1-hour lesson ranges from $75 to $90 with a certified PGA professional.

I recommend starting with 5 lessons. After that, you can either add on more or go at it alone. 5-lessons are sufficient for you to cover the basics of your swing mechanics, posture, and alignment.

Playing a Round of 9 Holes

Average cost: $21 

According to Golf Magazine and National Golf Foundation (NGF), the average course fees for 9 holes in the United States is $21. Naturally, you can expect to fork out substantially more when playing at private courses.

A semi-private club generally asks for lower fees than private country clubs, as they welcome guests and members. Public golf courses such as your local muni are the best place to keep green fees down.

Playing a Round of 18 Holes

Average cost: $38

Furthermore, the NGF found that the average fee for 18 holes in 2021 reached $38. Now, these are prices that you can expect to pay at municipal courses.

In addition, these rates cover your green fees and nothing else. You will need $20 to $50 to rent a golf cart for 18-holes.

Semi-private and private Country Clubs can ask for as much as $200 to $300. In the case of Pebble Beach and Shadow Creek, those fees enter the realm of $550 to $1000 per round.

Membership Initiation Fee (optional)

Average cost: $1000 – $100,000+

Membership initiation fees vary depending on the golf course. Semi-private courses may ask for less than $1,000, whereas private courses request more than $100,000. This payment only gets you in the door and does not include your annual membership or green fees.

Combining the initiation fee with membership, green fees, and annual tariffs is where golf becomes unnecessarily expensive for the average person.

The good news is that nothing is forcing you to become a golf club member. Unless you are after a handicap. In that case, being a registered member makes life easier.

 

Why Rich People Typically Play Golf

Build Relationships

A common reason why people play golf is to build relationships, especially from a business perspective. The old adage suggests that golf is good for business. Beating an opponent on the links requires patience, astute decision-making, and a killer instinct. These qualities demand respect and are an ideal way to win over new business and friends.

Keeping Up Appearances

The Country Club I grew up at had many of these characters. They could not swing a golf club to save their lives and grew to hate the game. However, they needed to be seen at the club on weekends, to highlight their importance and status. These are individuals who play golf just for the image.

Generation Z and millennials would refer to their mindset as the fear of missing out. They feel that not playing golf reduces their credit among their peers.

Peace and Quiet

A golf course offers individuals a place to escape from chaotic, everyday life. You are forced to focus on your swing and aim for more than 4 hours, helping you take your mind off work.

Furthermore, the privacy of a club allows wealthy people to be in a relaxed environment without being bothered by others. There are acres of space with nobody else except fellow golfers, with whom you enjoy a common interest.

Finally, the peace and quiet offered on a golf course is a drawcard. It allows rich golfers to spend enjoyable time out of the office, listening to the sounds of nature.

 

Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years.