There’s no question that a well-maintained golf course can be a moneymaker for a municipality, but how much does it actually cost to build a golf course from scratch?
That’s a question that often comes up during the planning stages of constructing a new golfing venue, and the answer is… it depends.
Keep reading for an overview of some of the factors that contribute to the total cost of building a golf course!
Here's What We'll Cover
An overview of the cost needed to build a golf course
Building a golf course is a costly affair since it requires multiple steps to complete the process:
- Purchase a lot of land to build on ($500k-$5m on average)
- Transforming the land into a golf course ($5m-$10m on average)
- Building amenities like a clubhouse, bathrooms, etc ($1m-$2m on average)
We’ll cover each of these in further detail later in the post, but it should give you a summary of the cost needed to build a golf course.
How much land is needed to build a golf course?
As we covered in our acreage guide for golf courses, you’ll need around 150-200 acres of land to build a golf course.
Here is how much it costs per acre of land in popular golfing states:
- California: $39,092
- Florida: $28,961
- Arizona: $4,328
- South Carolina: $17,610
- Ohio: $32,077
Using these numbers for reference, it should cost you anywhere from $649,200 to $7,818,400 for the land required to build a course.
There are a lot of factors to consider, so your costs may be higher or lower depending on where you are, how big the course is, and more.
How much does it cost to build a golf course?
According to a study done by Michigan State University in 2001, the median cost to build a golf course was $14 million, with a range of $7 and $25 million.
Let’s break down each step of the process so you can get a better idea of the cost.
The first step is to grade and shape the land so it’s suitable for a golf course.
This includes clearing any trees or brush, leveling out the terrain, and making sure the course has some unique characteristics.
Depending on how much work needs to be done, this part will typically cost between $5 and $10 per square foot.
Next, you’ll need to install a drainage system so the course can handle heavy rains without flooding.
This is usually done by installing pipes underground that will carry water away from the course.
The cost of this part of the project will depend on how big the course is and how much grading was done in the previous step.
Generally speaking, the cost will range between $10,000 and $75,000 per hole.
To keep the grass healthy on your course, you’ll need to install an irrigation system.
This will include a network of pipes and sprinklers that will water the course on a regular basis.
The cost of this part of the project will depend on how big the course is, but the typically range is between $500,000 and $1,000,000.
In some specific cases, it may cost as much as $2,000,000 or so!
Once the land is graded and the drainage and irrigation systems are installed, it’s time to start shaping the course.
This includes things like digging lakes and ponds, creating hills and valleys, and more.
The cost of this part of the project will depend on how big the course is, the complexity of the design, and how much the land needs to be reworked.
It’s impossible to estimate this portion since every situation is different.
Greens and tee boxes
After the course is shaped, it’s time to start installing the greens and tee boxes.
This includes digging holes for the greens, planting grass, and installing flagsticks and other objects on the green.
The cost to install greens will be about $500,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the situation.
Luckily, installing tee boxes is a lot more affordable, only costing between $50,000 and $250,000.
Bunker and hazards
Depending on how many bunkers and hazards you’d like the course to have, this part of the project can be pretty affordable.
If you only want a few, you could probably get away with spending less than $100,000.
However, if you want your course to be loaded with bunkers and hazards, it could cost upwards of $500,000 or more!
Cart paths and bridges
Once the greens, tee boxes, and bunkers are installed, you’ll need to add cart paths and bridges so players can get around the course.
The cost of this part of the project will depend on how big the course is, but it typically costs between $200,000 and $500,000.
Facilities and other amenities
Last but not least, you’ll need to build a clubhouse and other amenities for the course.
This could include a driving range, putting green, pro shop, locker rooms, showers, a restaurant, and more.
The cost of this part will depend on how big and how fancy you want the facilities to be.
A small clubhouse with just a few amenities could cost between $500,000 and $750,000.
However, if you want to go all out, the cost could easily be upwards of $20 million or more!
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into building a golf course!
The cost will vary depending on how big the course is and how many features you want to include.
How long does it take to build a golf course?
It’s important to factor in how long it will take to build the course when budgeting for the project.
Construction can take anywhere from 18 months to four years, depending on the size and complexity of the course.
Keep in mind that you’ll also need to account for the cost of permits, inspections, and other miscellaneous fees throughout the process.
Building a golf course is no small undertaking, but it can be a great investment for a municipality.
How much does it cost to maintain a golf course?
While the initial cost of building a golf course can be high, the good news is that the ongoing maintenance costs are relatively low.
It should cost around $500,000 to maintain an average-sized course each year, with higher-end courses being closer to the $1,000,000 mark.
Of course, this number can fluctuate based on your location, how many holes are on the course, how many employees you have, and more.
Keep in mind that these numbers are averages, so your specific project may cost more or less depending on a variety of factors.
Building a golf course is a significant investment, but it can be a great way to improve your municipality.
If you’re considering building a golf course, be sure to factor in the cost of land, permits, construction, and ongoing maintenance.
With the right strategy and planning, you can build a course that everyone will enjoy for years to come!