Golf is arguably one of the most expensive sports to play, hands down. Between golf clubs, greens fees, caddies, lessons, and — of course — the beers and cigars, you’re looking at a pretty penny to hit the links. However, even the most seasoned golfer may not have the bank account to play at the most expensive golf courses in the world.
Whether public or private, well-manicured fairways and immaculate greens don’t come cheap. Learn a bit more about the most expensive golf courses in the world, and what it might cost you to tee off on the most prestigious golf courses in the world.
America has long been the leader in expensive golf courses, having nine out of 10 of the most expensive golf courses in the world. However, the relaxed economic laws and corruption of the Chinese elite have led to a new king of expensive courses: Shanqin Bay Golf Club in Longgun Town, Wanning Shi, China.
Exclusive and extremely private, Shanqin Bay Golf Club is shrouded in mystery and is estimated to have only 20 members. Why? Because the membership initiation fees are $1 million along with an unknown annual membership fee that’s certainly in the high five- or six-figure range.
Located on the Chinese island of Hainan, Shanqin features a 6,894-yard, par-71 course designed by famous golfer Ben Crenshaw — former PGA Tour pro who won twice beat the cut at The Masters and wore the green jacket.
While it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever play here, a person can dream, right?
The most expensive golf course in the U.S. technically has two answers: one for a private course and one for a public course. Neither is particularly affordable, but if you have expensive taste and indifference to sizeable credit card bills, more power to you.
Put on your gold watch and get ready to rub elbows with the wealthy at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada. Part of the MGM Family, greens fees are $1,000 during high season and $750 during the off-season. Plus, you have to stay at the MGM resort (only 2 people per room) — adding to the price you pay for the entire trip. Just beware, the course is notorious for cancelling tee-times if a high roller like Michael Jordan wants to play.
The Tom Fazio-designed course features 18 holes and 7,560 yards of golfing pleasure. Shadow Creek is held in such high regard that it even featured The Match — a 2018 one v. one tournament featuring Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson. Heck, it may cost you a few grand, but you don’t have many opportunities to play the same course as the greats.
Private golf clubs are even more exclusive, and only esteemed members and their guests are allowed to get on the course. But Liberty National Golf Club earns the distinction of being the most expensive. With initiation fees of $500,000 and membership fees of $25,000 per year (as of 2022), this Jersey City, New Jersey, this course isn’t light on the pocketbook.
However, the opulence of this country club is unimaginable to most people. The total cost of the course topped $250M to build, including features such as a helipad and even a yacht marina. Channel your inner Wolf of Wall Street if you want to hit a few balls here.
Shadow Creek aside, you can still find plenty of fine courses that will drain your bank account at a moment’s notice. But with the price comes the experience of testing your skills on some of the best golf links in the world. Here are the 10 most expensive public golf course rounds money can buy.
If you’ve ever fantasized about playing your own personal round of The Masters, you might be shocked by how much it costs.
Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, has initiation fees between $250,000 and $500,000, and that doesn’t include the annual $30,000 membership fee. So mortgage your house or do whatever you need to do — this course is the stuff dreams are made of.
Surprisingly, Trump National Doral doesn’t make the list of most expensive golf courses, but its sister course in Bedminster, New Jersey, does. With initiation fees of $350,000, it’s certainly a steep price to join.
Nevertheless, you’ll get your money’s worth. The club features 36 holes, a helipad, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and even a heated paddleball court.
With membership fees topping $300,000, the Vintage Club is pricey, but it’s actually the most exclusive club in the U.S. Not only do you need a quarter-million dollars, but you also must live in the exclusive gated community in Indian Hills, California.
Golfing and skiing at the same exclusive club? That’s just what you’ll find at the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana. Ranked among the top 10 lifestyle resorts in the world — or so they’re called — the Yellowstone Club has something to do at all times of the year, whether you want to hit a round or hit the slopes. Just make sure you have an extra $300,000 lying around for membership dues.
The Fisher Island Club is an oddity not only for its $300,000 membership fees but also because it’s the most expensive 9-hole golf course in the world. While you’ll also get access to a private marina, spa, and even an aviary, the challenging nine holes will test even the best linksmen in the world. If you get here, you’ll know you made it.
Typically reserved for the socially elite, politicians, actors, and athletes, private golf courses are more than just a few fairways and greens. They’re essentially social clubs for the uber-wealthy. If you’ve ever wondered how much you’d have to plunk down to hop out on these courses, you might gasp. So start playing the lottery, making reckless investments with high upsides, or just don’t leave the house for a few years to play at these expensive private golf courses.
With a price of $840 at peak season, TPC Sawgrass’s Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is the most expensive public golf course in the world not named Shadow Creek. Built in 1980, this course has been the focal point of Tiger Woods PGA Tour video games, the host of several Players Championships, as well as the scorn of professionals that attempt to take on the signature par-3, 17th hole, known as the Island Green. Needless to say, make sure you don’t miss your tee time.
Nestled on the California shores of the Pacific Ocean, Pebble Beach Golf Links will set you back about $595 a round in peak season. Host of several US Open tournaments and the PGA Championship, it’s an iconic course that often tops the annual Golf Digest list of the best public courses in the world. You can also save a bit on the greens fee at this golf resort by staying at the nearby hotel. But be warned — it’s about $1,000 a night.
Wisconsin doesn’t necessarily scream golf. It’s more of a beer, cheese, and blue-collar state. But if you can find $555, Whistling Straits in Mosel is certainly worth the cheddar. Designed by legendary golf architects Pete Dye and Alice Dye, this public course has hosted the Ryder Cup, the PGA Championship, and the U.S. Senior Open.
Situated along the shores of Lake Michigan, this course provides sweeping views of the lake and mimics ancient courses designed hundreds of years ago in Ireland and Scotland. If you have a rough day, at least the views are worth the price of admission.
Another Las Vegas golf club will have you reaching for your wallet, as Wynn Golf Club costs a whopping $550 per round. However, it also comes with some great additions, such as a luxurious clubhouse and a round-trip to the course in a Rolls-Royce if you decide to stay outside the golf resort.
Pinehurst Resort just might be the Holy Grail for golfing enthusiasts. Located seemingly in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina, you can choose from up to nine courses to suit your tastes and skills. Expect to pay as much as $495 at peak season.
However, Pinehurst No. 2 is the elite course that’s hosted several PGA Tour majors. Opened in 1907, it’s one of the oldest golf courses, and consistently ranks as the best golf course in the Tar Heel State — public or private.
If you want to play a famous course that’s expensive, but not crippling to your retirement plans, Torrey Pines Golf Course is a true masterpiece. Because it’s owned by the City of San Diego, the greens fees are somewhat reasonable, only costing you about $200 for a round plus a $42 cart fee.
Home to two different courses and the site of the US Open playoff in 2008 between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, Torrey Pines is something every amateur linksman should experience — and all at a fair price.
If you’re going to drop a small fortune, a king’s ransom, or your kids’ college fund on a pricey round of golf, make the experience worth your while. Don’t embarrass yourself.
Once you get the green light to tee off at one of these distinguished courses, practice before is paramount. So use some putting drills to improve your short game, hit the driving range, and choose the right clubs. With the right skill set and a bit of luck, you just might make your expensive round the one you’ll never forget and maybe even a hole in 1.
Just make sure you don’t tell your spouse about this “minor expense.”