Golf: A Game That’s as Expensive As You Want It to Be

For as long as it’s been around, golf has been viewed as a sport for the wealthy.  A “country club sport” it’s often called.  With its exclusive courses, fancy attire, and high-priced, constantly updated equipment, most expensive golf clubs, it doesn’t shy away from the label.  At the same time, there are so many tiers of “golfing budgets”, that the game makes room for the big spenders and the cost-conscious players, alike.  Want to spend $500 for a tee time on a “bucket list” expensive golf course?  You can do that.  Want to get your child involved in the game without depleting their college 529 account? Easier than you might think and far more affordable than ice hockey, skiing, or gymnastics.

This article won’t tell you how to get your golf fix on a budget (maybe we’ll tackle that in a future post), quite the opposite.  We are going to look at some of the most common reasons why golf is expensive and why, ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how expensive you want golf to be.


Golf is Expensive

I picked up the golf bug in college and did so with what turned out to be a very false precedent.  As luck would have it, there was a well-kept par 3 course a short drive from campus.  And the best part: It was free for everyone.  Every day.  The local municipality stored their heavy landscaping equipment on the property and to this day we are convinced the course was the byproduct of a few bored employees who loved the game.  

These were simpler times.  These were much cheaper times, especially when it came to golf.  I was a broke college student falling in love with the game but constantly battling the fact that golf is expensive.  Fast-forward 20 years and I’ve shelled out countless thousands for tee times, lessons, memberships, trips, clubs, balls, and anything else in that endless pursuit for the center of the clubface and the bliss of dropping a 15-foot birdie putt.

Wherever you are in your dance with golf, whether it be “just getting to know one another” or “married to the game”, here are some reasons why golf is expensive.


Expensive Golf Clubs

Most of us get introduced to golf through a set of hand-me-down clubs.  They might be from a dad, a sibling, or a garage sale.  And they work just fine while you’re getting the hang of the game.  But the years will go by and things will change; your body, your swing, and your paycheck.  And with those changes, so should your clubs.

A set of best golf clubs can no doubt last its owner a long time.  10 years plus if you treat them right.  But for those of us who are golf-obsessed, we’ll likely want to keep up with technology and purchase a new set every few years.  If that sounds like you, just know that expensive golf clubs are usually the norm and not the exception.  For instance, a quick search of Golf Galaxy’s online store shows that of their 363 sets of Men’s golf irons, 234 costs at least $500. That’s nearly 65%.  127 iron sets cost over $1,000.  And that’s before you consider spending the extra money on a fitting session (it’s worth it, trust us) to make sure those expensive golf clubs are right for you.

But you need more than irons.  As they say, “Drive for show and putt for dough.”  Drivers and putters can often be the most expensive golf clubs in a golfer’s bag with clubs featuring the latest technologies often going for more than $500 for a single club.  If you’re looking to draw attention, consider the Honma brand, makers of the most expensive golf clubs in the world.  Their Beres Black Driver starts at a cool $1,149.

Expensive Putter

You need clubs to play golf but they don’t need to be expensive golf clubs.  Treat your clubs well and they’ll last you a decade or longer.  There are retailers like 2nd Swing Golf that specialize in selling refurbished and used clubs.  Ebay is also a hotbed for golfers looking to update their bags on a budget.

Golf Balls

Now that you’ve got your just released, professionally fitted expensive golf clubs, it’s time to buy the right golf balls.  A player’s optimal golf ball will depend on things like their ability, age, swing speed, and flexibility.  There are many different types of golf balls but mostly they seek to accentuate a player’s capabilities and lessen their faults.  You’ll hear about a ball’s compression rating and spin rate and how they translate to your game.  


More talented, low-handicap players will usually opt for more best golf balls.  Often referred to as “tour performance” level golf balls, models like the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1X, Taylormade TP5, and the Callaway Chrome Soft are preferred by famous golfers and they are some of the most expensive golf balls on the market.  Tour performance balls are designed for optimal distance, spin, and feel around the greens, and pair best with players that have faster swing speeds.  Because of their intricate design, usually consisting of three to five layers per ball, tour performance models are typically the most expensive golf balls on the market.  For instance, the 2023 version of the Titleist Pro V1 currently sells for $55 per dozen at most retailers and they check in as the most expensive golf ball on the market if measured by cost per dozen.


Expensive Golf Courses


And what fun is having the most expensive golf balls if you can’t lose them on some of the most beautiful, Best golf courses in the world?  We love a $20 lazy afternoon loop on the local muni as much as anyone but as your taste for golf grows, especially if your spouse or friends love golf just as much as you, you’ll want to experience the magic of a world-class golf course now and then.  It just so happens that the U.S. is home to hundreds of truly special layouts that can renew your spirit for the game and life all at once.  And yes, they’re also some of the most expensive golf courses you’ll find anywhere.  

According to a recent issue of Links Magazine, to play 18 holes on one of America’s most expensive golf courses, you need to be prepared to shell out $500 just to book your tee time.  At the time of publishing, Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, Nevada held the title of “Most Expensive Golf Course in America” at $1,000 for a round.  And these are just the public golf courses!

So there you have it, golf is expensive and the costs can add up fast.  Whether it’s expensive golf balls, expensive golf clubs, or expensive golf courses, the golf industry happily welcomes big spenders.  The sport has officially entered the realm of big business and there’s an infinite number of companies promising to make you play better, look better, and feel better on and off the course.  

After all, if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good.  Just be prepared to pay for it.

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