Golf Green Fees - More Expensive Than A Four-Putt

Golf Green Fees - More Expensive Than A Four-Putt

Now I'm confident most club golfers have experienced this. You've played your home course eight weekends in a row.

Walked to the same tee boxes, with the same club in your hand, hit the ball in the same bunkers and moaned about the same holes, the same missed putts and the same slow group in front. So when you're sat in the 19th and your mate suggests...

'How about we play somewhere else next weekend?'

You're in. Perfect.

There are tons of lovely courses all over this country, so why limit yourself to playing just one? Over the next few days the WhatsApp group fills with suggestions.

Local courses that one of you played in a match or as a junior, or has always wanted to play. Armed with a short list of premium venues, you take on the role of green fee checker and tee time booker.

But here's the stumbling block. To play a decent course is nothing short of extortionate. An average course can charge between £50 - £75, with fees anywhere north of £100+ for a 'championship' course.

How can this be justified? I'm sure that somebody chalking down the fees as a business expense doesn't bat an eyelid at a £400 group green fee, but your average golfer simply can't afford that on top of all the other expenses golf entails.

And the question has to be asked, why are these fees set so high? Certainly not to attract people to play the course, so I can only assume the opposite. The effect this has is to put people off playing the very best courses.

It’s unwelcoming, and plays directly into the stereotype that golf clubs are elitist old boys’ hangouts, where if you’re not one of us you’re not welcome, which all members of clubs know is not the case! 

Now I appreciate that golf courses are primarily there to serve the members paying large annual fees year after year, and it makes sense that they will want to save tee times and put something in place to vet the calibre of visiting golfers.  

But this is exactly what handicap certificates are there for, and whether somebody can afford to hand over £80 is no indicator at all. Surely all golfers want to play as many great courses as they can, and as it stands it is just simply too expensive to do so.

Twilight rates, winter green fees and lunch & play offers all help in making courses more affordable, but from what I’ve seen the fees to pay can still be substantial, especially if looking to play at the weekend.

But why not think further outside the box? If a club were to offer one Sunday afternoon a month where visitors can play after noon for £20 this would surely get new golfers on the course and could ultimately even drive up membership numbers.

Golf needs to move forward and start to attract more people into the game, from all walks of life. One thing that would go a long way to do this is reducing the costs involved, which are higher than in any popular sport I can think of.

Golf committees across the UK need to have a serious think when reviewing their fees about exactly what they are trying to achieve. To get paying customers on to the course and a chance to showcase their great club, or to put people off.

 Avid golfer and West Ham fan. Proud owner of a duck hook