How Much Does It Really Cost to Play Golf? Averages at a Glance
The perception is that golf is an expensive sport, and while there is truth to that perception, few people do their research to learn just how much golf really costs. Between lessons, equipment, green fees, and other essentials, here is the true price of golf.
If you're just getting started in golf there are plenty of things you’ll need to get going. Here are the essentials along with estimated costs.
Golf clubs are entirely subjective to each individual golfer. It’s highly recommended that you go to a certified club fitter or retailer to get you on the right track, but we can’t stop you from snagging a garage sale special.
Complete Set: $400
It's smart to make your first equipment purchase a complete set of clubs. Brands such as Tour Edge, Wilson, Strata, and others make men's and women's complete sets that include a driver, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, a putter, and a golf bag with headcovers. This type of set is a great way to get started.
If you would prefer to piece together a set of clubs you can always buy everything you need separately.
There are plenty of drivers that will run close to $600, however, beginners can usually find models that cost less and also meet their needs.
Fairway Woods: $250 each
Depending on how you want your set makeup to look, you should carry one or two fairways woods in your bag. Start with a 3-wood and add a 5-wood if you’d like.
Hybrids: $200 each
On the same note of set makeup, at least one hybrid should be in your bag. Typically, a second hybrid would replace either a 5-wood or a long iron such as a 4 or 5-iron.
Iron Set: $600
A set of irons will be one of the most expensive pieces of equipment when getting started in golf. You can find sets that are less expensive but the average cost of $600 will get you a recent model that will include seven or eight irons.
Wedges: $150 each
Depending on the type of iron set you buy you should get at least a pitching wedge and sometimes a gap wedge. Beyond that, you'll need a sand wedge and possibly a lob wedge to round out the bottom of your bag.
Putters have the single biggest variation in pricing of any piece of golf equipment. You might find that an $80 putter is your favorite, or you can purchase a hand-crafted, milled model for $400 or more. Safely, $150 will get you a putter that feels good.
Golf Accessory Costs
Getting golf clubs is only the beginning. Before you hit the course, you still need to consider costs of a golf bag, shoes, glove, balls, tees, and learning the basics of the game.
Golf Bag: $175
The main golf bag decision you need to make is if you'd like a stand or a cart golf bag. Stand bags are best for walking and a quality model will be in the $175 range. If you prefer to start off with a larger cart bag the price goes up a little, usually to around $250.
Lessons: $50 each
After all of your equipment buying, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that you need someone to teach you how to play this crazy game. Golf lessons cover the spectrum of costs, but it’s safe to estimate a 30-45 minute lesson to cost $40-50. Some shorter lessons cost less, some longer lessons cost more. It truly depends upon the location and individual conducting the lessons. Pro tip: always purchase a lesson package or bundle if available. It’s typically cheaper than purchasing individual sessions.
If you want to practice your short game there’s always a public course with a putting green where you can head for some free practice. If you’re looking to work on your long game, however, you’ll have to purchase a bucket of range balls. Depending on the size of the bucket, $15 is a good average expect.
Green Fees: $25-$100
The cost to actually get on a course varies depending on how many holes you’re playing, the day of the week, and if you choose to walk or ride. As a baseline figure, $25 is an average weekday walking fee for nine holes. To go to the other extreme, an 18-hole round on a Saturday with a cart can run $100 or more depending on the prestige of the course. If you’re a beginner, however, that baseline number is where you should be looking.
Golf Shoes: $100
A new pair of golf shoes from a reputable brand such as FootJoy or Nike are going to cost around $100. Like all shoes, there are levels of expensive, but this is a good buy-in number for your first pair of spikes.
Golf Balls: $25/Dozen
Beginners should concentrate on quantity when it comes to golf balls. A dozen golf balls for a beginner shouldn’t exceed $25, but if you’re lucky to find a double-dozen deal or anything on sale, stock up.
Golf Tees: $12
You can’t always rely on finding freebies lying around the range or tee box.
Golf Glove: $12
Protect your lead hand from blisters early. A golf glove is one of the first things you purchase.
Assuming that you’ve taken the next step in golf, your initial purchases might be a thing of the past but you still incur plenty of costs over the course of a year. Here are some yearly cost averages for intermediate players and beyond.
Golf Balls: $265
There is a big variation in yearly golf ball costs because warm weather climates see significantly longer golf seasons, which means more lost balls. For average sake, we’ll say the average player tees it up 40 times per year. If you lose two golf balls per round you’ll likely need to purchase six or seven boxes of golf balls each year. If the average cost for a dozen golf balls is $40 you stand to spend $266 per year on golf balls.
Club Replacements: Varies
If you’re the type of golfer that hangs on to equipment, your yearly club replacement cost can be zero. However, if you’re the type of player that needs to have the latest equipment you could spend $600 yearly on a new driver, $1,000 on irons, and much more.
Green Fees: $2,500
Going off of the same number as golf balls above, if you're playing 40 rounds per year at an average cost of $60 per round, you can expect to spend around $2,400 in green fees. The cost of your green fees and the number of rounds you play will ultimately dictate this cost.
Country Club Membership: Varies
If you’re fortunate enough to have a private country club membership or a membership at a public or semi-private course as an option, the number of options is only limited by your wallet. There are plenty of private clubs that offer associate memberships where you pay an upfront fee of around $1,500 and monthly dues that amount to around $300. If you’re the type of person who plays a lot more than 40 rounds per year, this is something to consider.
There are, of course, the most exclusive clubs in the world that require some generational wealth to be a part of. For example, Chicago Golf Club is reported to have a $150,000 upfront initiation fee plus $18,500 in annual dues.
The Price of Golf: Complete Breakdown
Now that we've reviewed the expected costs of playing golf, let's take a look at the actual expected costs for starting new at golf.
Breakdown of Costs to Start Playing Golf
$60 (multiple visits/week)
Total Startup Cost
There are many people close to the game of golf that are doing a good job of making the game more accessible and affordable. That doesn’t change the fact that it is an expensive sport and if you’re just getting started those costs can add up quickly. You can find comfort, or discomfort, in the fact that the more you end up enjoying the game, the more of your finances it will take up (in a good way).