Membership to One Golf Course vs. Rounds at a Number of Courses

With the new golf season coming into full swing (pun intended), there are options abound for those of you looking to get the maximum value for your golfing dollar. Depending on how much time you have to play, when you can play (i.e. weekends only), and how much diversity you enjoy, this article will discuss the pros and cons of having a seasonal/annual membership, paying for golf on a per-round basis, and everything in between. By the end of this article, you will be able to make an informed decision on a golf membership/pass option that’s affordable and allows you to play as much golf as possible without breaking your budget. Let’s see how membership to one golf course vs. rounds at a number of courses play out!

Unlimited Golf for a Single/Family (Season-Full Year)

In the last ten years, many golf courses are offering bulk or subscription-based pricing on their golf course, providing unlimited amenities for either an upfront fee or monthly dues (many of them without initiation fees).

This is a great option for someone who loves the course they play and don’t have much desire to play a variety of different courses during a season. Also, if you plan on playing almost every day, you’ll be getting an incredible deal on your average cost of round.  

What to Look For

If you do decide on this route, make sure to do some math and make sure the savings is at least one-third to half below the average base rate. This is for two reasons: first, if the club requires upfront payment and a limited-to-no refund policy, that’s a significant investment into something that you may not get full value out of, especially if you have hectic work-schedules or are prone to injury.

Second, if you’re only saving a few pennies on the dollar with a season pass or membership, it may be wise to play on a pay-per-round basis and hold on to the extra cash in case you don’t play as much as you think you will. This option is not suitable for someone who enjoys playing several courses during a season and wants that flexibility to choose which courses and not feel fully “invested” into just one course.

It’s also important to understand how many people in your family are included in your membership fee, and if no one else is included, how much extra will it be to add your spouse/children. If the cost is too high, inquire to what your guest fees will be and adjust your decision accordingly.

There are caveats to this: many golf courses that offer membership plans also offer preferred rates to other courses they manage. Once again, this will require some math and decision-making, but having other courses to play at a discounted rate may be enough incentive for people to choose a seasonal pass.

Preferred Player Passes

This is a popular feature amongst municipal courses in larger metropolitan areas. For a flat-fee, you’re able to play one or several various golf courses at a discounted rate. Depending on how often you play, you can save hundreds of dollars a year with this option. Aside from the savings, you’ll have access to more than one course, which will limit the chances of any of your rounds becoming boring or monotonous.

There are still some drawbacks to these player passes. First, the savings will not be as significant than they would be with an annual pass. Also, depending on the program, you may need to play a certain number of rounds to maximize value, which can be a hassle.

If you do opt for this type of pass, try to find one that offers extra perks like range balls with every round, every __th round free, etc. With a little research, you may be amazed at how many great deals you can find out there.

A-la-carte Golf

If you want maximum flexibility, enjoy playing a wide variety of golf courses, and are willing to spend a few extra dollars, then opting out of any kind of annual pass or players program will work best. The important thing to remember is that having to pay for every round doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. In fact, there are several ways to save money on daily greens fees.

First and foremost, there are golf discount sites, just like the one you’re on now. While a premium membership is similar to a frequent player’s pass, you still get to choose which courses you want to play, many coming with a significant savings per round.

It also doesn’t hurt to check out the various websites for the courses themselves. Often times, during slower afternoons, they will offer a steep discount in order to fill the vacant spots on the tee sheet. Keeping your options open to what time you’re able to play will make a serious impact on the amount of money you can save this season; make the most of it!

What’s the “Best” Option?

In order to get the most out of your golf season, to blend the convenience of a course you can play consistently, but also have the freedom to play other courses, your best bet is to implement a hybrid-like strategy.

First, find a reasonably priced course (low-to-mid range in quality) that offers a monthly subscription fee (with reasonable cancellation policies, in case you get injured or don’t have time to play). This will give you a home course and the extra cash you save in upfront costs can be used to play other courses in your area.

With your monthly subscription, make sure it includes unlimited practice balls and use of the facility, so you can work on your game on those days you don’t feel like playing (click here for a look at how to get the most from the driving range). Discounts on food, beverage, and apparel are also pluses.

If this doesn’t suit your budget or your schedule, the coupons offered on this site are a great alternative!

The Final Takeaway

We hope this article helps you make the best decision on how to spend your golf dollars wisely this coming season, and many more to come! Good luck and may the fore be with you!

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Ryan S

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