More people are playing golf than ever, increasing from 32 million participants in 2016 to 41 million golfers today in the United States. Add in the $100 billion economic impact that the game has in the U.S., and investors are turning a watchful eye to one of the costliest but most profitable ventures: golf courses.
But buying a golf course isn’t like starting a food truck. It requires tons of capital that’s unrealistic to most investors. However, you can still build a hole or two on your own land without breaking the bank. If you’re an avid golfer who’s been asking yourself, “How much does it cost to build a golf course?” here’s what you need to know.
For a professional-quality golf course, the average cost — or median cost — is right around $14 million. While the median cost is far higher, the average mean cost to build a golf course is between $1 million and $5 million.
However, a wide variance exists in these costs. Where you build the golf course, the cost of living, materials and plants, the layout, and the level of luxury all factor into that price. For example, your clubhouse could function as a five-star resort; it could also be a simple, non-descript building that’s solely for grabbing a few beers after a round. It’s all about the budget of the buyers/investors and the expected return.
In case you were wondering, here are the most expensive golf courses in the world and the accompanying price tags:
As you can see from the figures above, costs can snowball quickly depending on the golf course construction, return on investment expectations, and clientele.
If your dream is to host a tournament or just have your friends over, a nine-hole course or par-3 course is far more achievable in terms of budget and maintenance. A nine-hole course will cost you quite a bit less, usually running from about $500,000 to $1 million. Again, this will depend on the amenities of the golf facility, the course size, and where you build.
A budget golf course will still run you into the million-dollar range in almost all cases, but if you wanted to build your own golf course consisting of a hole or two, the corresponding costs are far more affordable.
According to YouTuber Spud Run Golf, the cost to build a single hole is around $10,000 if you do the work on your own, not including the cost of land acquisition. (However, he owns a construction company that has the necessary equipment, plus he owns the land.)
But at half the price of a new car and a solid addition to any property in terms of current and resale value, building a hole or two is well worth the price — if you’re willing to shoulder some of the labor and maintenance in a DIY fashion. Plus, the ability to get your kids into golf or have a makeshift golf bachelor party on occasion are nice bonuses.
Below, we’ll cover all of the associated costs of creating your own golf hole, including the aspects that you may not have considered — as well as how to build a golf hole of your own.
When you’re asking, “How much does it cost to build a golf course?” you’re probably thinking solely of the purchase price. But so many more things go into the overall cost of buying and maintaining a golf course. Commercial real estate costs, construction costs, future maintenance costs and upkeep, labor, and other overhead all factor into the cost of running a golf course.
Even if you have investors or enough capital to buy a golf course on your own, understanding these costs is imperative to success — whether you’re building a recreational course on your land or designing a for-profit one.
Of course, the easiest way to own a golf course is to buy one that’s already constructed and for sale. This will save you plenty on the cost of land, as well as the related acquisition and design costs.
For new courses, you have to consider many different expenses, including:
Once you have your golf course up and running, you still have substantial overhead each month. The fancier your golf course is, the more you need to increase your green fees or tournament entry fees. Each month, an investor would need to factor in these costs:
Again, these costs vary, but expensive courses readily spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each month on these expenses.
So, you don’t have millions of dollars in expendable income. Most people don’t either. But that doesn’t mean you can’t build a micro version of a golf course on your own. If you’re interested in constructing a hole or a course on your own, follow these instructions to ensure everything runs like clockwork.
According to Spud Run Golf, who created a single hole on his property, here is a breakdown of the design, construction, and associated costs:
Spud Run Golf’s costs don’t include land — you need about 10 acres for a single par-4 hole — nor does it include the cost of building bunkers, fairways, or tee boxes. For these additional costs, you may need to budget an additional $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the complexity and design of your hole.
In addition, he leaves out the cost of irrigation systems, tee boxes, and fairway construction and maintenance, which can add even more costs.
Despite Spud Run’s $10,500 price tag, most people should expect to pay double or triple this price — and even more if you have to buy the land — to have a high-quality hole constructed.
If $20,000 is still out of the realm of possibility, don’t stress. You can still work on your putting game by installing a golf green in your backyard. Depending on how large the putting area is and what the materials are, you could realistically make a putting green for between $4 and $100 a square foot. In most cases, that equates to a price of between $4,000 and $10,000 to get an awesome golf green in your yard.
Whether you buy an 18-hole golf course or simply make a single hole in your backyard, don’t let the costs sink you like a tap-in putt. Know your budget, how much you’re willing to spend, and any potential losses you may incur. By doing your homework and crunching numbers before you get started, you can avoid any potential financial hazards and create a hole (or course) that’s authentically yours.