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Course Quality Vs. Course Cost - Opinions Wanted

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I had posted this in my regional "newbie" forum, so my input is regarding courses in Massachusetts primarily,  but I remain very curious as it relates to golfers nationwide.

How does everyone view the value of a course?  Everyone's bank accounts and situations differ so I'd be interested in hearing from  folks about their take on the cost and quality of the course they play/ would like to play.

Walking can certainly cut cost and is good for the soul, but for the sake of discussion I'm using weekend riding rates as the baseline.

 

Thanks all!

 

GOOD VALUE I typically think that anything in the $60-80 range (weekend/ riding) that is well-kept and in good condition is a good value.

CHEAP:  Anything lower than that you kind of should be expecting slightly less in the conditions department, but if you go into it with the right expectations, those tracks can certainly serve their purpose.

NICE BUT PRICEY: $80-100 is getting up there for sure and gives me pause. One, because the gap in quality and experience vs.the GOOD VALUE stuff isn't that wide. Two, because that's the point where my wife starts to second guess everything I do. 

EXPENSIVE: $100-135 is tough to justify for similar reasons stated above, unless it's a charity tournament or something similar where proceeds are going somewhere, you're getting a meal and a raffle etc. I wouldn't necessarily classify courses in this range as "Bucket List" types, but maybe "Must Play" if you're from the area.

The courses in that range are typically, and should absolutely be, of noticeable difference to the GOOD VALUE stuff when it comes to experience, service, and condition. Sort of the "you get what you pay for" mentality. But again, the cost-value is harder to swallow here.

COST PROHIBITIVE: North of $135 just becomes cost prohibitive for one round of golf. These would be more of the "bucket-list" type of course who should offer and even better experience the EXPENSIVE bunch. These are places you'd love to play but if you'll likely never get to all them.

Really only ever doable for tournaments/ charities again, and Vacations/ Special Occasions. These are the cream of the crop places that take so much convincing and negotiating with my wife that they become cost prohibitive.

Would love to hear your thoughts?

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It's a nice topic but lots of it will be regionally and seasonably governed.  I grew up in the Northeast where golf was extremely expensive.  At the time that I lived there high end daily fee courses didn't exist or where there but still few and far between - it was muni or country club and country clubs came with 20K plus buy ins. 

I moved to the Midwest in the late 80's and it was an eye opening experience.  There were countless quality courses, ones that would host Hogan and then Nike and now Web.com events, that were under $40 often under $30 and sometimes closer to $20 for 18.  When I moved to Wisconsin prices ranged from less than $20 to mid 400's (Whistling Strait - 5 miles from my house.)  There were several very nice course choices in the $40-50 range .

In Florida golf can be extremely affordable, as a Florida resident and especially off season.  So value is relative - I know that if I wait for it I can find places like Copperhead or Streamsong for under $100.  World Woods Pine Barrens is a top 100 course and I don't think I've ever spent as much as $40 for a round there.  Likewise the Disney courses or many of the other Orlando ones.  It's very easy to find a deal when you live here. 

I did play Whistling BTW but did not pay $400. 🙂

Sadly the OP lives in the most expensive part of the country to play golf - he should come down here for a visit during the shoulder season and we will get him on some great tracks for a very reasonable price.

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Northern Ohio = great public and semi public courses. Most are under $50 in prime season plus cart fees.


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My idea on the whole thing will get stomped on.

I pay $45-$50 to play here on junk, but I don’t have a choice. It should be are $25-$30 for the condition of them most of the time.

If I am paying over $80 I expect a pretty decent course.

$450+ should include breakfast, lunch, dinner, caddy, a limo...

I grew up near some exclusive clubs that are bucket list places but I’ll never be able to play, and I’m guessing their members are there for a week or two in the summer.

Looked at moving to Mass, but after 9/10 courses I looked at were private or $XXXXX just to join plus yearly fees... nope. I love golf, but I can’t justify paying an arm and a leg to play the game.

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I think the worst is when a course is still priced at their normal prices when they cant provide their typical quality. I played in Nags Head last year and the course had been chewed up by poor weather during the spring. Two holes were dropped down to par 3s where you were hitting out of the rough from 80 yards out. They still charged the same premium rate which I felt was disappointing. I understand they still need to make their projected revenue but it made me not want to play the course again, I can only imagine what a member paying their regular premium would feel like.

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I agree with @revkev that the price is regional and seasonal.  It also depends on the day and time of day.  I have traveled for work to most of the US regions and took my clubs on many trips.  I got to play some very nice courses, some for not a lot of money.  For example, TPC Scottsdale for $75, not $300.  You just have to play in July!!

The prices in SE Washington are pretty reasonable.  Nice public courses range from $25-70 using your criteria; less expensive during the week, more expensive on Fri-Sun.  Obviously, there are more expensive courses in the region, but they tend to be more destination courses, but even they can be played relatively cheaply on the "shoulder seasons" of early spring and late fall.  Private courses are rare, usually one or two in the metro areas.

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Northern Ohio = great public and semi public courses. Most are under $50 in prime season plus cart fees.


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Agree. I can think of one course in the northern half of Ohio that's over $100 and it used to host LPGA events. Other than that there's maybe half a dozen that top out around $70 on a Saturday. It's all relative.

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NJ numerous courses in the moderately expensive range, that aren't all that nice.. even my local twp course, $75 for weekend riding, and it's kind of a dump with hard fairways, super slow greens, and parking lot bunkers.. thankfully it's $14-20 for me to walk it, but outsiders so not worth it

Mind = blown of how much less expensive it is in other parts of the country too

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Keep in mind I walk, and sometimes get junior rates, which really help. 

Cow pasture- $10-20, I never play on these courses, I can play on a "good" course for less. For whatever reason, cow pastures think they are much nicer than they are and charge for it. 

 

Good- $15-30, I play 99.99% of my rounds on good courses, they are resonable priced, usually have good junior rates, and maintain decent course conditions. 

 

Beautiful yet good value- Usually, these are all on American Indian reservations. I don't know why but the AI people maintain beautiful golf courses and give a resort level experience for $60 a round. All y'all MN spies, if you ever get a chance, play Dacotah Ridge in Western MN or Meadows at Mystic Lake near Minneapolis. 

 

Too expensive- Anything over $75, really I haven't found nicer course than the 2 I listed above, so paying more to go to a worse course is just idiotic. 

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OKC has 4 municipal golf course that have two 18 tracks each. You can get a morning tee time for $45 or less, especially if walking. They are in awesome shape though two of the four get pretty peppered from the huge amount of golfers who play. 90% of my rounds are played on a city-owned course and they are all in NICE condition. If you really want a deal, go out in July at 2 pm $20 to play in 110 degrees.


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I think the overall experience for me.  Cost is a factor for sure, however it's not the only thing.  I have played Pinehurst #2 which cost $400 FOR ONE ROUND.  I am a teacher...stupid to pay that much, but I did it.  It was a fun round but not a $400 fun round.  That being said, I have the experience of playing one of the best courses in the country and I get to talk about it with a ton of golfing friends so there has to be a value on that.  I played Bethpage Black at a cost of $160, same thing.    

 

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4 minutes ago, ballplayer002003 said:

I think the overall experience for me.  Cost is a factor for sure, however it's not the only thing.  I have played Pinehurst #2 which cost $400 FOR ONE ROUND.  I am a teacher...stupid to pay that much, but I did it.  It was a fun round but not a $400 fun round.  That being said, I have the experience of playing one of the best courses in the country and I get to talk about it with a ton of golfing friends so there has to be a value on that.  I played Bethpage Black at a cost of $160, same thing.    

 

Yup but think about the bragging rights - Pinehurst AND Bethpage Black! 

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16 hours ago, revkev said:

It's a nice topic but lots of it will be regionally and seasonably governed.  I grew up in the Northeast where golf was extremely expensive.  At the time that I lived there high end daily fee courses didn't exist or where there but still few and far between - it was muni or country club and country clubs came with 20K plus buy ins. 

I moved to the Midwest in the late 80's and it was an eye opening experience.  There were countless quality courses, ones that would host Hogan and then Nike and now Web.com events, that were under $40 often under $30 and sometimes closer to $20 for 18.  When I moved to Wisconsin prices ranged from less than $20 to mid 400's (Whistling Strait - 5 miles from my house.)  There were several very nice course choices in the $40-50 range .

In Florida golf can be extremely affordable, as a Florida resident and especially off season.  So value is relative - I know that if I wait for it I can find places like Copperhead or Streamsong for under $100.  World Woods Pine Barrens is a top 100 course and I don't think I've ever spent as much as $40 for a round there.  Likewise the Disney courses or many of the other Orlando ones.  It's very easy to find a deal when you live here. 

I did play Whistling BTW but did not pay $400. 🙂

Sadly the OP lives in the most expensive part of the country to play golf - he should come down here for a visit during the shoulder season and we will get him on some great tracks for a very reasonable price.

Thanks revkev,

Regional for sure. I am not a well-traveled golfer, or even well-traveled period... but I am curious to know what the expectations are from people ho live both close by, and very far away from me.

I've always been of the belief that courses in my area are a bit on $$$ side, but really had nothing to base that feeling on, it just FELT like I was paying more than I should. 

Weather and the seasons likely have a lot to do with that where course in climates that can be year round can recoup more of their costs over the course of 365 days as opposed to less than half that in the Northeast, or areas with similarly brief playing seasons.

I really appreciate the input !!


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4 minutes ago, tony@CIC said:

Yup but think about the bragging rights - Pinehurst AND Bethpage Black! 

Very true, but the "bragging rights" cost me almost $600.  That's a lot in the teaching world.  That being said, I find that I don't talk much about a lot of the other courses I've played.  I play a lot of different courses throughout the year but I do keep going back to those two or even a third being Trump National Ferry Point (another very expensive round).  

I guess to me, quality is the OVERALL experience...bragging rights included.  I am happy and thankful that I have been able to play these courses.  Will I pay 400 to play #2 again...probably not.  It's more of a bucket list thing for me.  Will I pay $500 to play Pebble Beach...you bet, because of the experience.  Does this mean I wont have the same experience at a course that cost $50 bucks, not at all.  

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15 hours ago, Shankster said:

My idea on the whole thing will get stomped on.

I pay $45-$50 to play here on junk, but I don’t have a choice. It should be are $25-$30 for the condition of them most of the time.

If I am paying over $80 I expect a pretty decent course.

$450+ should include breakfast, lunch, dinner, caddy, a limo...

I grew up near some exclusive clubs that are bucket list places but I’ll never be able to play, and I’m guessing their members are there for a week or two in the summer.

Looked at moving to Mass, but after 9/10 courses I looked at were private or $XXXXX just to join plus yearly fees... nope. I love golf, but I can’t justify paying an arm and a leg to play the game.

I don't think your take would get stomped on, certainly other people's situations could be viewed differently, but I think that's the point.

It's like taking a cross section of the forums as it relates to their specific opinions, situations, and views on what they deem a good/ bad value.

I'm not that far off from you in terms of what I typically play. I wouldn't call the tracks junk, but I get the feeling that my $60-80 would go a lot further in other places.

 

Thanks Shankster


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15 hours ago, tchat07 said:

I think the worst is when a course is still priced at their normal prices when they cant provide their typical quality. I played in Nags Head last year and the course had been chewed up by poor weather during the spring. Two holes were dropped down to par 3s where you were hitting out of the rough from 80 yards out. They still charged the same premium rate which I felt was disappointing. I understand they still need to make their projected revenue but it made me not want to play the course again, I can only imagine what a member paying their regular premium would feel like.

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That is by far one of the most disappointing things. Spring and fall rates in colder climates should definitely be commensurate with course condition and quality of the "experience".

 

Courses that have had bad weather, drought, flooding, etc. should adjust on the fly and courses that are conducting maintenance that could be viewed as intrusive or disruptive should also adjust. Things like aerating... value to me is in the experience, and what the expectations are on arrival. 

If I arrive with one expectation I hope it's met.

 

Thanks tchat07


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We have a bunch of courses here in West Michigan that are great values. Honestly, if you pay more than $50 for 18 with a cart, it better be close to a championship level course. 

The Meadows at Grand Valley State University is usually in prime shape all year, hosts numerous NCAA and state level high school tournaments, and tops out at $59 during peak season on the weekends.

There are a few "hidden gems" in the $40-50 range, and if you're willing to walk instead of ride, there are several good experiences to be had for less than $20.


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I play a 27 hole private course most of the time, so daily fees do not apply.  I do play/practice often enough that my amortized cost makes it worth it to me.  The other courses available within short driving distance -- 2 are good courses, but regular pricing with a cart will set you back $45-60 plus per round, although there are often some specials and better rates at off hours.  We do have one other course that is more in the $40 range, but the course conditions are poor -- beautiful layout, but shaggy greens and soggy fairways make it less than desirable to play but it's under new management so maybe things will improve.


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Eastern Washington(state) where I live has some of the best value for courses that I have ever played. I've been on several trips to play golf over the years and my location is just pretty hard to beat. Most of the public courses around here are under $40 and the conditions are usually very good. There are a couple of higher end spendy options but those are destination courses and always in good condition as well.

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10 hours ago, Drumdog said:

Eastern Washington(state) where I live has some of the best value for courses that I have ever played. I've been on several trips to play golf over the years and my location is just pretty hard to beat. Most of the public courses around here are under $40 and the conditions are usually very good. There are a couple of higher end spendy options but those are destination courses and always in good condition as well.

I agree.  Your city and county courses are very good and reasonably priced.   For a community that is about the same size as ours, you have more courses that are in generally better shape.  Our advantage is that in most years we have a much longer playing season.  In the winter I have played with many people from Spokane that travel the 140 miles to play here when they still have snow.


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