The 'True Cost' to Play America's 12 Most Expensive Golf Courses

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Ginella's Ultimate itinerary for Pebble Beach

Editor's note: For the most updated version of this story written in 2020, click here:

Every year before and after The Players Championship, I get flooded with questions about how much it costs to play the Player's Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

It makes sense: the golf course is open to all, but there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer regarding the green fee.

For one thing, if you want the most bang for your buck, I recommend playing the course as part of a package (the prices of which are too varied to list here).

For another, there's a big difference between the mere "green fee" and the "all in" cost after factoring in some of the mandatory and optional extras.

Again, I wouldn't recommend paying the walk-up rate, but to give you an idea of what it is (and the realistic total cost of your entire day at TPC Sawgrass, here's a rough calculation:

Peak green fee: $495 ("only" $450 in March-May; October-November)
Tax: $30
Cart fee: included (cart-path-only at all times)
Range balls: included
*Caddie fee (mandatory if you want to walk; one half of two-bag walking caddie): $65
*Yardage guide: $5
TPC Sawgrass logo shirt: $60
*Post-round cocktail: $10
TOTAL: $665

(*not mandatory, but part of most people's normal experiences and resort golf expenditures)

As you can see, the posted green fee is seldom the end of your ultimate spend, and this is the case at many upper-echelon courses where caddie fees and gratuities can be mandatory.

In fact, this got me wondering about the "true cost" at the other places often labeled as, "the most expensive golf courses in America."

I didn't calculate as many extras as I did for TPC Sawgrass, but below are the base green fees and any mandatory and suggested caddie fees and gratuities.

Again, this assumes you're paying the walk-up rate, but most (if not all) of these courses/resorts have more reasonable package pricing.

Interestingly, one course's fee has recently dropped: Cascata in Las Vegas, which debuted with a base fee of $500 but is now a relative bargain at "only" $445.

Below is the full list...

The mountain in the background of the 16th green is the only reminder that Shadow Creek was carved from the Las Vegas desert.

t-1) Shadow Creek: $500+
$500 peak green fee includes forecaddie, but not gratuity

t-1) Wynn Golf Course: $500+ 
$500 peak green fee includes forecaddie, but not gratuity
(Editor's note: Wynn Golf Club is reopening later in 2019 after closing in 2017. Read more)

t-3) TPC Sawgrass - PLAYERS Stadium Course: $495 - $635
$495 peak green fee (with cart; cart-path-only at all times) + $27.50 forecaddie fee + $20 forecaddie gratuity OR $66 double-bag caddie fee + $25 gratuity OR $90 single walking caddie fee + $40 gratuity

t-3) Pebble Beach Golf Links: $495 - $630
$495 peak green fee + optional caddie fee of $80 + $35-$55 suggested gratuity

After the 10th green, Pebble Beach Golf Links turns inland until a return to the shore at no. 17.

t-3) Trump National Doral Resort - Blue Monster$495 - $595
$450 peak green fee + $25 mandatory forecaddie fee + $20 recommended gratuity; single walking caddie fee is $125 + $20 gratuity

6) Whistling Straits - Straits Course$490
$385 green fee + $65 mandatory caddie fee + $40 suggested caddie gratuity

7) Cascata Golf Course: $445
$395 peak green fee + $25 mandatory forecaddie fee + $25 standard gratuity

The gorgeous, 157-yard seventh hole at Cascata sits in a rock canyon with a waterfall.

8) The Greenbrier - TPC Old White Course: $440
$385 peak green fee +$30 mandatory forecaddie fee + $25 standard gratuity

9) Pinehurst Resort - No. 2 Course: $420 - $505
$420 peak green fee (with cart; cart-path-only at all times) + $55 walking caddie fee + $30 minimum caddie gratuity

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10) French Lick Resort - Pete Dye Course: $405 
$350 peak green fee + $30 mandatory forecaddie fee + $25 standard gratuity

11) Spyglass Hill Golf Course$395
$395 peak green fee includes cart

12) Kiawah Island - The Ocean Course: $390 - $460
$390 peak green fee includes cart (cart-path-only at all times) and forecaddie or walking caddie base fee, but not gratuity, which is $35 for forecaddie or $70 for walking caddie

The short, third hole of the Ocean Course has been immortalized forever after Rory McIlroy's ball landed in the tree and never came out during the 2012 PGA Championship.

Total maximum cost of these 12 golf experiences: 

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the above figures are based on peak season "walk-in" rates.

You can often play these courses for a LOT less, particularly if you keep an eye on our email alerts.

(For example, we recently tipped you off about great packages at Pebble Beach and Whistling Straits.)

What do you think about the rates at, "America's most expensive golf courses?"

Overpriced or worth every penny?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

8 Min Read
February 27, 2015
Golfers looking for "value" can find it even in the U.S.'s most expensive golf destinations. We found some worthwhile bargain courses in each.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine,, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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Commented on

You missed the most expensive - Canyata in Marshal, Illinois at $750 per person....not including a caddie.

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Canyata's private, isn't it? We limited this piece to just public/resort golf, but I'm guessing Canyata would be up there overall. Tara Iti offers non-members the opportunity to play the course once, and my understanding is the cost is comparable to the Canyata guest fee.

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Technically it’s private but it’s locally owned and they encourage public play. I guess they figure if you’ll pay the $750, you’re welcome to play it!

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Thanks for the tip! Just spent some time learning a bit more about Canyata thanks to you.

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Manele in Lanai- $495pp. Yikes!

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My first round of golf was at Pebble Beach, and I have played many places since, then, I love the game!

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Why would you ever pay this much to golf. I can go to the local park and hit a ball wherever I want!!!!!

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What a challenge that sounds like... have fun! who is the architect of your local park? Donald Ross? Pete Dye? Sounds exhilarating...

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These courses are a treat to ones self ... enjoy!

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Of course it's overpriced. I have been to Pebble, Whistling Straits, Torrey Pines, Bandon, Kingsley, etc..and then i have played a ton of muni courses. Pebble has 6 great holes and 12 average. Given a choice i would play a good muni with 3 good friends. Cost doesn't make a course great, enjoy the game with friends and save some money.

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In some places where I live we have some beautiful courses, Mareeba golf course is only $14 to play golf and an extra $25 for a buggy. That's ridiculous to charge $100+ for a game of golf

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I pay 5 dollars to play golf at my local golf course. That's ridiculous.

Commented on

I realize this is old thread. However, it's worth noting that the Stadium Course was immediately closed after The Players (2016) for a full blown 6 month overhaul. Right now, it's June 12th and I can see soil piled two stories high on 13. There is speculation about layout and greens fees. It will be interesting to see where it all ends up.

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I have played 6 of the courses listed. I agree with all comments. Too pricey to play multiple times a year---or even 2 of them. I have spread it out over the past 10 years, bucket list with Torrey Pines North & South included. After watching all of the great tournaments on tv for so long it was time for me to enjoy while I can. Outside of those, I find the municipal courses like Costa Mesa, where you can play for well under $50 on a weekend.

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The 'True Cost' to Play America's 12 Most Expensive Golf Courses