Golf is still extremely affordable compared to similar activities. And it’s not just comparative affordability—grow-the-game initiatives like First Tee and Youth on Course make golf accessible and affordable for the most important demographic, kids. Children are the future dues-paying members, after all.
As a kid growing up in Northeast Ohio, I dabbled in all sorts of sports, but mainly focused on the big three—football, baseball and basketball. The summer before my freshman year of high school, though, I was introduced to golf and immediately became hooked.
While I started out at a 9-hole, par-3 course (Twin Oaks), I quickly moved up to a “big boy” course. Maple Ridge stretched to a whopping 6,001 yards … which was more than enough for me at the time.
Because I also enjoyed tennis, my buddies would give me a hard time about playing “country club” sports while they were at Wenner Field, sweating out two-a-days for the football season. Sure, golf and tennis are popular at clubs across the country—but the courts at the park were free, and I got an annual membership at the public golf course for about $150 (with unlimited play Monday through Friday).
Times have changed, of course, and you can certainly spend crazy amounts of money on memberships and equipment. Heck, there are some clubs that are so exclusive that no amount of money will get you through the door without an invitation and extensive background check. And don’t get me started about the $70,000 set of sticks from Honma!
That said, golf is still extremely affordable compared to similar activities. Take skiing, for example. The National Golf Foundation recently released a “Cost of Golf” comparison and noted that the average lift ticket is around $62, while an 18-hole round of golf at a public course is only $38. Nine holes at the same course will only set you back around $21.
Want to see a Major League Baseball game? The average ticket is $34, which is a bargain compared to the NBA ($56), NHL ($78) or NFL ($105). Want something to eat or drink at one of those games? Be prepared to dig deeper into your pockets.
And it’s not just comparative affordability—grow-the-game initiatives like First Tee and Youth on Course make golf accessible and affordable for the most important demographic, kids. Children are the future dues-paying members, after all.
Looking back, I wouldn’t trade anything for those days spent in the sun at Twin Oaks or Maple Ridge. And many of the same guys who teased me about my sport of choice in high school are now playing even more golf than I play. Their glory days under the “Friday Night Lights” have evolved into weekly leagues or member-guest weekends.
While exclusive clubs still exist and require a high six-figure initiation—IF you’re invited to join and accepted into the fold—many wonderful clubs have waived initiation fees or set them at a very affordable price.
Far be it for me to tell anyone how to spend their entertainment dollars—but doesn’t 18 holes with friends sound better than paying to watch an overpriced slugger strike out with a runner on third and less than two outs?