The Cost of Building a Golf Course

It’s one of the most difficult questions to answer, but one of the most commonly asked, how much does it cost to build a golf course? The answer depends on a variety of factors; three of the most important being, what type of course the client wants, what type of land the course is to be built upon, and the competency of the golf course architect.

Construction costs are also determined by the economic climate and industry status. Recently, with low interest rates and a lull in the building of golf courses, the market place is ripe for new developers to get excellent loans and very competitive bids from architects and construction companies. While variables like insurance and petrol/diesel prices are unpredictable, mere competition will push most firms to bid low and drop their margins just to keep people and equipment working during lean times. Equally, suppliers of materials for expensive billing items such as drainage and irrigation are more focused on turnover than stockpiling.


 Construction Items

Minimalist Course

Average Course

Up-Scale Course

Mobilisation 10,000 35,000 75,000
Layout, Staking, Civils 10,000 30,000 120,000
Erosion Control 0 25,000 150,000
Clearing and Grubbing 3,000 35,000 280,000
Selective Clearing 0 54,000 240,000
Topsoil strip 40,000 150,000 300,000
Rock Blasting 0 15,000 150,000
Earthmoving 0 375,000 750,000
Shaping 75,000 150,000 300,000
Topsoil Replacement 40,000 150,000 240,000
Storm Drainage 10,000 75,000 500,000
Golf Drainage 20,000 100,000 150,000
Irrigation + Pumpstation 130,000 345,000 910,000
Greens (11,150 sq.m.) 36,000 190,000 600,000
Tees (11,150 sq.m.) 30,000 60,000 100,00
Bunkers 17,000 52,000 84,000
Cart paths 0 112,000 530,000
Seedbed Prep 50,000 95,000 125,000
Grassing (Seed/Sprigs) 50,000 120,000 110,000
Grassing (Sod) 0 50,000 200,000





Source: Golf Course Builders Association of America, ASGCA, and Denis Griffiths. 2004.


Costs can be kept to a minimum if the client has a good site; gently rolling with good drainage, and starts the job on time with all permits in hand. An architect can quickly identify the best land for a golf course and following their advice should alleviate having to move lots of earth, installing extensive drainage, time delays, or requiring more resources to get the job completed in time for critical seeding windows or a grand opening.

Specific cost cutting measures include reducing the number of bunkers, especially those requiring expensive speciality sands, minimising the length of cart paths and using seed other than sod are good options. Additionally, if USGA style greens are to be designed, reducing green size is a cost cutting method. Reducing spending on items such as final grading however may cost an owner more in course maintenance in the long run; so judicial corner cutting is crucial.

Some new owners spend tremendous amounts of money on large trees in an attempt to create a ‘mature’ look for new projects, particularly those using the course to sell real estate, but owners can save more money, and often get better long term results, by planting smaller trees with a drip irrigation system. Equally, clustering trees rather than lining fairways not only looks better, but reduces the number of trees required. Landscaping is a cost that can make or break the look and economic viability of a project.

Reducing the size of the course has an impact on the cost of building and maintaining a course- particularly when land is at a premium. Designing a Par 70 or 71 course instead of a Par 72 may allow an architect to avoid using a difficult, steep, or environmentally sensitive piece of land and this may save up to NZ $400,000! Additionally, the course will play quicker and if it’s a ‘pay and play’ course, an owner may get more groups through on busy days and make more money- all this affects the bottom line.



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