Why Is Golf So Expensive to Play! (How Much is this Sport?)

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Golf is regarded as one of the costliest sports to play but how much is this sport and why does it cost so much to get started?

Golf is expensive to play because you need a full set of golf clubs with additional accessories such as balls, tees, towels, and markers. Plus, there is the extra cost of specialist golf clothing and course membership fees which can run into hundreds or thousands of dollars every year.

To explain the breakdown of these costs even further:

  1. Golf courses are expensive and need 365 days of the year care and maintenance. This is incredibly expensive, especially on a full 18 hole course that is Championship standard.
  2. The equipment involved. You may need to purchase balls, clothing, bags, clubs which include pricey drivers. It is not surprising to see how expensive a golf club costs in an average golf shop. Even a start golf bag with a full set can cost a minimum of $300.
  3. The “prestige factor” – a bit like tennis where the perception is that golf is a sport, sadly only for the rich.

Times are changing though and with public municipal courses popping up all around the country there has never been a better time to start playing the great game of golf!

How Expensive is Golf as a Sport?

In starting, you can easily spend about $3000 or more so golf is one of the most expensive sports to play. But there are a lot of things to consider if you want to be more cost-effective because the prices of playing golf differ depending on the equipment used, location, time of year, course, etc.

There are some general concepts within the financial aspect of playing golf. The first primary rule is to understand what you are getting before buying.

Golf courses cost from $10 to hundreds of dollars for a single round. The courses also vary from discounts for residents and late-afternoon matches. Weekends for instance are more expensive than weekdays.

The 4 Groups of Golf Courses – Cheapest First!

  • City-owned golf courses or the “municipal golf courses” tend to have the lowest prices for a daily round of golf. They usually start at about $10 cheaper than other average courses. In a well-maintained municipal golf course, you can have fun and play properly just be careful and read online reviews for the best “muni” courses in your local area. Good for starting to practice as you gain more confidence and experience.
  • In a public golf course, the standard cost for an 18-hole round including the golf cart, is $36.
  • Top golf courses can charge a premium. In Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Peak greens fees are $500 in a single round. According to Golf Advisor, TPC Sawgrass and Pebble Beach run from $495-635 for 18 holes.
  • Private country clubs are of course, more expensive because of their annual membership and other additional fees. Prices range from moderate to six-figure costs per annum which make them out of reach for most people.
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Top Tip: When starting out it’s often better to buy a good second-hand set of golf clubs (Gumtree is great!) and take them down to your local municipal course for a tryout. This way you can find out whether golf is a sport for you without breaking the bank!

How Much Should I Spend on Golf Gear as a Beginner?

It is true, it can be quite expensive to get started in playing golf – but isn’t the case with most sports? We have compiled a list of some basic costings for golf gear in the US.

  • $500 for a standard, full set of golf clubs if buying new. (Callaway, Nike, Wilson and Majek).
  • A golf bag will come in around $100 for a basic non-branded bag or $150 for a Callaway equivalent brand.
  • 24 golf balls for $30-$50 or you can buy used golf balls on places like eBay for half this amount.
  • Tees and towel for $15.
  • Shoes and a polo shirt or two, a couple of pairs of golfing shorts and hats will cost around $300-$500. You can probably play without golf shoes for your first couple of rounds or in the local park but in muddy or wet conditions golf shoes are a must!
  • Want tuition? Go for a package of about five classes for less than $150. These are often group sessions and prove to be invaluable for a newbie golfer. You will learn the basics of the proper golf grip, stance, swing, putting and chipping – check out your local golf course for more details on group golf classes.

Is It Better to Buy a Golf Set or Individual Clubs?

We get asked this question a lot and generally, for beginners, the rule is to go for a basic full golf set of around 12 to 16 clubs.

Why? because you will need to practice different shots nearly every day which require the use of a full bag – a full set gives you that opportunity without having to break the bank when you first start playing.

However, there are always exceptions to the rules and everyone is different…

If you are new in golf, a professional standard second-hand set could be a great option if you wanted to use high-quality clubs from the outset.

Check out local listings on Facebook, Gumtree, or even eBay as some golfers give up after just one round!

Some golf shops and sports equipment stores offer “box sets,” which may be a full set of clubs and a bag; they are usually geared towards starters or juniors so if your teenager is interested in golf – be sure to check these out.

If you are starting and unsure if you will play fairly often or have a limited budget, a golf set is the best option but if you have more cash to spare then check out your local golf club…

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Nearly all good golf clubs will have a pro shop that features a fitting service.

They are well use to new golfers so don’t be afraid and the best advantage this has over buying blind from the internet is that they can recommend clubs based on height, weight, and gender.

Even for more experienced golfers, it is necessary to get a correct shaft flex, club loft, and adequately sized grip specific to your requirements.

Once you learn more and your scores become more consistent, you can take your equipment to the next level.

Nevertheless, individually buying is useful once you have got an idea about your clubhead speed, shaft flex, grip, swing weight of your irons to your longer clubs, and which clubs are to be purchased for which purpose.

Putting together a full set in this manner is initially costlier, but it gives you more flexibility to settle on the clubs you like or that suit you the best.

They do not need to be on the same brand.

You may buy one company’s driver if you find that their wedges do not suit you. Buying pre-owned or new clubs that have been closed out and marked down can let you save more money.

Before purchasing, do your homework. Think about your skill level and how serious you are about the game.

If you are a beginner, a full set is an economical place to begin that you can ride and develop as you go.

If you have the budget and want the freedom to select a range of clubs that may better fit your game, you can opt to buy the various clubs individually but be warned – buying just one putter from a top brand like Wilson, Callaway or Titleist can cost over $200.

Can I Try Out Golf Clubs Before Buying?

To encourage more people to take up golf, manufacturers and golf shops generally offer a good return policy on golf clubs which is helpful to new players. Ways to try golf clubs before buying include:

  • Shop online. With big super sites like Amazon, they have a very good return policy so if the clubs you buy are too short or too long, simply return them for a full refund.
  • Head to the local golf shop or club-fitting store. Some will offer you a free hit with new clubs on the practice range.
  • Attend a demo day. Usually, many golf courses offer demos at their store or course. It works where representatives from multiple equipment providers show up to showcase new product lines.

Although golf is an expensive sport to play at least now you know how much golf is to play.

Hopefully, by reading through this article you can find ways to effectively reduce the cost of playing golf. 

It’s a great idea to start off by buying lower-grade new equipment or go down the 2nd hand route first – once you’re hooked you can easily add to your golf bag one club at a time!