How Much It Costs to Play a Round of Golf

Playing golf can be expensive, but there are courses for every budget

A golf ball made of money
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Golf can be as expensive as you make it. Want to play at $200 courses? Go right ahead. Don't have $200 to blow on a round of golf? Don't worry - there's probably a golf course in your area that fits your budget.

Playing a round of golf can cost in the range of $10-$15 on the low end, and into the hundreds of dollars on the high end.

The rate that a golf facility charges golfers to play its course is called the "green fee." The rate a facility charges golfers for the use of riding carts is called the "cart fee." Every golfer who plays will pay the green fee; the cart fee may be included in the green fee or be a separate, add-on cost only for those who want a cart.

Factors That Affect the Cost of a Round of Golf

Green fees vary depending on the type of facility and the golf market where you live or are visiting.

First, golf markets: Some areas have a plethora of public golf courses; others are top-heavy on private courses with just a few public options. The golf market, like everything else in a market economy, is driven by supply-and-demand. In cities with fewer public golf courses or cities where the golf market caters to resort tourists, the golf fees will naturally be higher.

In cities with plenty of public golf, the fees will likely be lower. Especially in cities with many municipal (city-owned) golf courses. Golf fees in larger cities tend to be higher than those in smaller cities and towns.

Second, the type of facility makes a huge difference in how much they charge. Private country clubs are off the charts, and most of us can't play them anyway.

Resort courses - golf courses that are operated as part of a resort complex - can cost hundreds of dollars to play. They exist for the luxury traveler, not the average golfer (although they are usually open to locals, too).

Daily-fee courses are public courses that are owned by private companies, as opposed to city or county governments. Depending on the construction and maintenance costs involved, the geographic location and many other factors, daily-fee courses can be as cheap as $25 per round (for 18 holes) or as expensive as resort courses (hundreds of dollars).

Municipal courses - those owned by cities or counties - are the cheapest, with some costing as little as $15 to walk. Munis can also be as expensive, however, as midlevel daily fee courses.

Cheapest of all will be the small-town, 9-hole course, where a golfer might be able to pay less than $10 (minus a cart) to play all day.

Factoring in the Cart Fee

Renting a golf cart will add more dollars to the round at many places; at some, a cart is built into the green fees.

Some courses require the use of a cart, but most give the golfer the option of walking. Not all that allow walking, however, will discount the green fee just because you are not taking a cart. (If you are willing to walk to reduce the costs, be sure to ask if it's cheaper for walkers.)

Reducing Your Costs for Playing Golf

Want to further reduce your costs? Check into executive courses and par-3 courses (which are good places for beginners to play regardless of budget). They usually cost much less than even municipal courses.

Then, of course, there are driving ranges and practice areas where you can hit a bucket of balls and work on your chipping, pitching and putting, usually for less than $15.​

Ask the golf course you want to play if they have a 9-hole rate. Green fees are based on the assumption the golfer will play 18 holes. If you are willing to play only nine - to save money, time or both - you may get a cheaper rate. (Not all courses, though, provide a 9-hole fee.)

If you want to play on the cheap as you're just starting out, you'll simply need to make some calls to courses in your area, or visit their websites, and compare rates. There are also apps that offer price comparisons on golf course fees.

Golf courses, like any other business, do offer sales and discounts. Playing later in the day often brings a reduced green fee (known as "twilight rates"). Discounts are often available for juniors and seniors. A golf course might offer a discount card for golfers who play frequently that brings with it a lower green fee. Joining a golf club based at a course might bring access to reduced fees.

Online tee time reservation services can also clue you into reduced rates (last-minute sales to book unused tee times, for example).

Also keep in mind that at many higher-scale golf courses, tipping is expected and will add to your costs. Golfers who play mostly at municipals or 9-hole courses likely won't have to tip.

So call around, surf the Web, ask around and you may be able to lower your costs, no matter what cost level you're willing to start from.