The Local Knowlege

Courses & Travel

America's 100 Greatest Public Courses, by the numbers

My colleague and cart partner on Golf Digest’s travel coverage, Pete Finch, will now be posting to this blog on a regular basis. Here’s his debut entry, which is on one of my favorite topics, green fees:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the green fees at America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses these days. 
 

(Related: View the Top 10 most expensive public courses in the U.S.)

For example, I can tell you which region has the most expensive courses in America’s 100 Greatest Public. It’s the Far West. There are 33 courses on the 100 Greatest Public from the western states, and they have an average peak-season green fee of $227. The region with the least expensive courses on America’s 100 Greatest? That’s the Mountain states of Idaho, Colorado and Utah, whose six courses average $142 for 18 holes. 
 
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(Pasatiempo, in Santa Cruz, Calif., is No. 30 on
America's 100 Greatest Public and has a $220 green fee.)

We collected all this data, and much more, for the “Money Clip” column in June’s Golf Digest. (When I say “we,” I mainly mean researcher Mary Jane McGirr, who contacted most of the courses and compiled the data in a giant spreadsheet.)
 

(Related: See Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest Courses)

Some of this got mentioned in the column. The average peak-season green fee at America’s 100 Greatest Courses is $193. Fifteen courses charge $100 or less. Ten courses charge $300 or more. There’s also a table with details on the 10 lowest green fees in America’s 100 Greatest Public.
 
But a lot of the data we collected never made it into print. Some examples:
 
The top 25 in America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses have the most expensive green fees, by a lot. The average: $266. The second 25 charge $175 on average. The third 25: $164. Is the bottom 25 lower still? No! In an upset, the bottom 25 average is $169. 
 
Thirty-six of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses charge lower prices on weekdays than they do on weekends. The average among those that do: $127 in peak season. 
 
Seventy-three have off-season rates. The average: $108 on weekends, $91 on weekdays. 
 
Sixty-three charge less for afternoon “twilight” rounds. The average: $114 in season, $75 offseason.
 
Fifteen of America’s 100 Greatest Public have the word “resort” in their names. Average green fee: $184. Seven have their designer’s name in the club name. Average green fee: $205. When that name is “Dye,” which occurs twice, the average green fee jumps to $270.
 
Sixteen courses include the word “at” in the names, as in the Highland Course “at” Primland. If you think that automatically signals high-priced pretension, you might think again. Average green fee: $161.
 
“Ocean,” on the other hand, does seem to signify higher pricing. Four courses have that word in their name and their average green fee is $242.
 
If you have to choose between playing an “ocean” course and a “dunes” course and the decision is purely financial, pick dunes. (I know, nobody would ever choose a course this way…but indulge me on this.) There are five courses with that word in their name on America’s 100 Greatest Public and the average green fee is $194. 

--Peter Finch

(You can follow Pete on Twitter @Pete_Finch.)


 
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