Saturday, September 20, 2014

Would You Pay to Play One of America's 10 Most-Expensive Golf Courses?

How much are you willing to pay to play golf? What's the highest green fee you've ever paid for a round of golf?

The most-expensive green fee I've ever paid is $120, although the most I've ever paid for golf is $480. I'll explain the apparent contradiction in a minute. First, here's a list of the 10 highest green fees in the United States.

10 Most-Expensive Green Fees at USA Golf Courses

1. Shadow Creek, Las Vegas, $500
2. Pebble Beach, California, $495
3. Pinehurst No. 2, North Carolina, $450
4. Whistling Straits (Straits course), Wisconsin, $430 ($370 green fee plus mandatory $60 caddie fee)
5. Greenbrier Resort (TPC Old White), West Virginia, $395 ($375 green fee plus $20 forecaddie fee)
6. Doral (Blue Monster), Florida, $390
7. Spyglass Hill, California, $385
8. French Lick (Dye Course), Indiana, $380 ($350 green fee plus $30 forecaddie)
9. TPC Sawgrass (Players course), Florida, $375
t9. Wynn Golf Club, Las Vegas, $375

This ranking, and the green fees cited, come from an article on GolfAdvisor.com. Go read it, it contains good information about the fees in question.

Note that the fee cited are peak fees. You can play these courses for less during the offseason, at twilight times, and in other circumstances when the courses are, for one reason or another, discounting fees. But at their peak fees, those are the 10 highest-priced golf courses in America.

Would you pay that much to play any of them?

Back to my opening: I once paid $480 to play golf, but the green fee was only $120. What happened is this: After 10 years I had left a job and moved from a mid-size city to a big city, one that has a PGA Tour event. The old job had provided an old-style pension (since, like most traditional pensions, eliminated). I had been there 10 years. The rule was, if you left your job before reaching a certain level of vestment in the pension, the company automatically cashed you out. So I had a lump sum cash payment coming, which I expected would be a pretty good chunk of change. Ten years, after all.

It turned out to be a whopping $480. What a disappointment. But I turned it into something good: I was now living in a city with a PGA Tour golf course, a fancy resort course. I had three golf buddies back in that smaller town who (like myself) had never played anything but municipal courses at that point. So I decided to blow that measly pension payment paying for my group of four to play a fancy, exclusive, big-city, PGA Tour golf course.

And we did. We had a good time, I was happy I did it. But the fact is, none of thought that fancy course was really worth it. We all commented that we'd have been happy just playing another, cheap municipal. It was about the camaraderie, the joy of the game and the friendships, being out in the sun and fresh air. The $120 course was nicer than we'd ever played, it was an experience, but other elements of the experience outweighed the "wow" factor of the golf course.

I've never paid more than $80 to play golf since. I just can't justify the expense. So as much as I'd love to see Pebble Beach in person, or Pinehurst No. 2, or TPC Sawgrass, I would never pay those green fees to play them. Put me on my local $24 municipal on a nice day with good friends and I'll be just fine, thank you very much.

So that's my answer to the question: No, I wouldn't pay those fees to play one of America's 10 most expensive golf courses.

Would you?

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