What It Costs To Play On America’s 10 Best Golf Courses
Augusta National / Augusta National / Getty Images
When the Masters tournament returns on April 8th, the golf world will turn its attention to the Elite Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
While you might itch to reach the club's green, many of the top-rated golf clubs are only open to members. However, some are open to the public. Read on to find out the cost of teeing off at some of the best private and public golf courses in the United States.
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America's Best Private Golf Courses
Entry fees in some of the most exclusive golf clubs can run into the six-figure range - if you can even secure a membership. Here's what some of the top rated golf clubs have to offer for members.
Augusta National Golf Club
Location: Augusta, Georgia
No golf course in America is more steeped in history than the Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters tournament every year. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer are among the golf legends who experienced historic moments during the Masters at Augusta National.
Each of the 18 holes in Augusta National has a name derived from a tree, flower or plant on the course. Some are Tea Olive, Magnolia, and Holly. The 11th, 12th and 13th holes are called the Amen corner at this point due to the difficulty of the holes in combination with the wind.
Augusta National is not only one of the best golf courses in America, but also one of the most exclusive. It is a members only club and each guest must be accompanied by a member at all times.
The club was limited to white men from its opening in 1932 until the admission of its first black male member in 1990. In 2012, Augusta National accepted its first female members: former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina investor Darla Moore. Augusta National's official membership roster is confidential, but Bloomberg has added CEOs, billionaires, and other high earners to the club's list of verified and speculated members for 2015.
As is generally the case with the world's most famous golf courses, the cost of initiation is high, with the numbers reported varying widely. Golf.com reported in April 2019 that the entry fee is in the range of $ 40,000 - cheap by the standards of world-class golf clubs. However, just a year earlier in 2018, Forbes estimated that the start-up fees for Augusta were between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000, which is much closer to face value.
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Pine Valley Golf Club
Location: Pine Valley, New Jersey
Pine Valley is one of the top courses in the USA and is located on the edge of the Pine Bar in southern New Jersey. ESPN once described the course as the "largest 18 holes in golf ever created by man".
Pine Valley is one of America's most exclusive private clubs. While the membership roster is confidential, The Press of Atlantic City reported that former US President George H.W. Bush, actor Sean Connery, and professional golf legends Ben Crenshaw and the late Arnold Palmer were all members at one time or another.
Non-members must receive an invitation from a member to play in Pine Valley. Women cannot be members of Pine Valley Golf Club and can only be invited to play on Sundays. According to Forbes, the club does not accept applications and the club board must reach out to potential members
Every year on the last Sunday in September, Pine Valley invites the general public to watch the finals of the club's annual George Arthur Crump Memorial tournament, named after its founder and course designer. This is the only way to explore the course without a membership or invitation. No credible price estimates are available and the club is known for its discretion and secrecy.
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Merion Golf Club
Location: Ardmore, Pennsylvania
Built in 1912 by golf course architect Hugh Wilson, the Merion Golf Club has witnessed many golf milestones. Its storied history includes completing the Grand Slam of Robert Tire Jones Jr. in 1930 and Ben Hogan's impressive one-iron finish on the 72nd hole at the 1950 US Open. The course itself contains a historical footnote: Merion was the first club in the nation to feature two 18-hole championship layouts.
Golf legend Jack Nicklaus himself once said: "Tomorrow after tomorrow [Merion] may be the best golf test in the world." The par 70 course extends for nearly 7,000 meters for players to dominate and has a mild atmosphere enhanced by the surrounding tree line.
The private golf club reportedly has an impressive two-story locker room that you might see one day - if you can pay the entry fee. Initiation costs start at $ 70,000, and annual fees are at least another $ 6,000, Forbes reported in November 2018. Even if you can afford all of that, the only way to apply is through a referral from a member.
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Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Location: Southampton, New York
Opened in 1891, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club is located on the east end of Long Island. It was a charter club for the organization that later became the United States Golf Association. There were five U.S. openings on the course - including the second in 1896 - and a sixth is slated for 2026.
The ultra-exclusive Shinnecock Hills are silent about their entry fees and fees. If you know a member, you can be invited to the course as a guest, but guest tee times usually fill up months in advance. If you ever make it to the club as a guest, you'll pay a $ 350 green fee, Golf.com reported in June 2018.
Oakmont Country Club
Location: Oakmont, Pennsylvania
The Oakmont Country Club hosted its ninth US Open in 2016. Dustin Johnson took the notoriously fast greens of the course to take his first big win. A 10th US Open is planned for Oakmont in 2025. The club has also hosted five US amateurs and two US women’s Open.
In 2019, the Helen Brown Group, a development, research, consulting, and training company listed Oakmont's startup fees at over $ 75,000. It's hard to guess what the "plus" means, as ESPN stated 12 years earlier in 2007 that Oakmont's startup fees were exactly $ 75,000.
You must be invited to join the Oakmont Country Club. However, members reportedly often bring guests to the club to try their hand at the extremely difficult course - but that could be because they enjoy watching their guests fight.
America's best public golf courses
You don't have to be a highly paid professional golfer or even a member to play some of America's best golf courses. The following quality courses are public.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Location: Pebble Beach, California
Few natural golf settings match Pebble Beach Golf Links on the Monterey Peninsula, where golfers can enjoy Pacific Ocean views along the course. The US Open 2019 is the sixth time that the course hosts the championship. Pebble Beach is expected to host its first US Women's Open in 2023.
Since opening in 1919, Pebble Beach has made a name for itself as a premier golf destination. It was ranked # 1 on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses in 2019 and first on Golfweek's Top 200 Golf Courses in 2021.
The green fee is $ 575, but golfers who are not resort guests at Pebble Beach also have to pay $ 45 for a cart.
Location: Bandon, Oregon
Pacific Dunes, a resort in Bandon, Oregon, sits next to waves crashing against the rocky shoreline.
The characteristic hole in the Pacific Dunes is the 11th hole, a par 3 hole with a length of 148 meters. While coastal winds often devastate golfers' shots, the hole is one of the most picturesque in golf. Golf Course Gurus, a website that offers course reviews, called it "the definition of a postcard hole".
If you're a resort guest, green fees for the year-round course range from $ 105 to $ 295. If you're a day visitor, the fees range from $ 135 to $ 345. However, discounted rates apply to Oregon residents.
Pinehurst No. 2
Location: Pinehurst, North Carolina
Course # 2 at Pinehurst Resort is steeped in history. Opened in 1907, the course was first designed by Donald Ross, who worked to improve it until his death in 1948. Recent renovations in 2010 by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw restored many of the original design elements.
Pinehurst No. 2 hosted the PGA Championship in 1936, the US Openings in 1999 and 2005, and the US Openings in 2014 for men and women in 2014. It will also serve as the venue for the US Open 2024.
Green fees range from $ 50 to $ 495, depending on the time of year and the club's courts you are playing on.
Location: Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Three PGA championships were held on the Straits course in a relatively short time - 2004, 2010 and 2015 - as well as the US Senior Open 2007. The Ryder Cup was supposed to be played on the course in 2020, but it was canceled. It will instead take place there in September, when Whistling Straits will be the first public course in 25 years to host the event.
Eight of the 18 holes on the Straits course are played along Lake Michigan. Golfers playing the course must keep an eye out for the sheep that roam freely.
A round of golf on the Straits course costs more than $ 410 in 2017, according to Golf.com. It's a walking-only place, and a caddy - which is $ 65 with a recommended tip of $ 50 per bag - is required. Reliable, more up-to-date information is not available, but reviews on TripAdvisor roughly confirm these prices.
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass was designed by famous course architect Pete Dye in 1982.
The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most famous in golf. The 137 meter long par 3 hole features an iconic island green surrounded by water. A thin bridge is a golfer's only access to the green.
The cost of playing on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass varies at different times of the year. According to Golf.com, where the pros play, it costs $ 500 to $ 720 per round to play.
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Andrew Lisa contributed to the coverage of this article.
Last updated: April 7, 2021
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: What It Costs to Play America's 10 Best Golf Courses
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