In 2020, 24.8 million US residents played on a golf course, an increase of 500,000 (and 2%) compared to 2019. What’s more, a record 3 million individuals in the states played the game for the first time last year.
If you're purchasing new golf clubs or booking a golfing trip abroad, and want to spread the cost without paying interest, you may want to consider a 0% interest credit card.
To help any beginners, as well as those with a lifelong passion for the sport, the team at money.co.uk have looked into the affordability, accessibility and social media presence of some of the most prestigious golf courses around the world.
A total of 53 golf courses around the world - all of which allow visitors and non-members to play, were analysed on a range of key factors aimed to determine the ultimate global golf courses.
|Golf Course||Country||Total Score (/100)|
|1. Bethpage Black||USA||85.38|
|2. St Andrews (Old)||Scotland||82.7|
|3. Carnoustie (Championship)||Scotland||77.68|
|4. Pebble Beach||USA||75.4|
|5. Bandon Dunes (Bandon Trails)||USA||74.24|
|6. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)||USA||62.7|
|7. St Enodoc (Church)||England||62.3|
|8. Sunningdale (New)||England||61.54|
|9. Royal Dornoch (Championship)||Scotland||60.4|
|10. Pinehurst (No.2)||USA||59.62|
|11. Castle Stuart||Scotland||58.46|
|12. Portmarnock (Championship)||Republic of Ireland||58.1|
|13. Cabot Links||Canada||57.68|
|14. Cabot Cliffs||Canada||57.3|
|15. Barnbougle Dunes||Australia||56.16|
|16. Royal Portrush (Dunluce)||Northern Ireland||55.76|
|17. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)||USA||55.76|
|18. Victoria Golf Club||Australia||55.38|
|19. Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)||England||54.24|
|20. Lahinch (Old)||Republic of Ireland||53.84|
|Golf course||Country||Total Score (/100)|
|21. Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog)||Dominican Republic||53.06|
|22. Cruden Bay (Championship)||Scotland||52.7|
|23. Whistling Straits (Straits)||USA||51.56|
|24. New South Wales||Australia||51.54|
|25. Cape Wickham||Australia||51.14|
|27. Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie)||Scotland||50.78|
|28. Ballybunion (Old)||Republic of Ireland||50.4|
|29. Cape Kidnappers||New Zealand||47.32|
|30. Royal County Down (Championship)||Northern Ireland||47.3|
|31. Royal Birkdale||England||46.16|
|32. Kawana (Fuji)||Japan||46.14|
|33. North Berwick (West)||Scotland||45.78|
|34. Barnbougle Lost Farm||Australia||45.02|
|35. Royal St George's||England||44.22|
|36. West Sussex||England||43.84|
|37. Royal Porthcawl||Wales||42.7|
|38. Trump Turnberry (Ailsa)||Scotland||41.56|
|39. Trump International Golf Links||Scotland||40.76|
|40. Swinley Forest||England||39.62|
|41. St George's Hill (Red & Blue)||England||39.22|
|42. Real Club Valderrama||Spain||38.08|
|43. Royal Lytham & St Annes||England||36.92|
|44. Kingston Heath||Australia||36.54|
|46. Royal Hague Golf & Country Club||Netherlands||34.98|
|47. European Club||Republic of Ireland||32.7|
|49. South Cape Owners Club||South Korea||30.02|
|50. Paraparaumu Beach||New Zealand||30|
|52. Utrecht de Pan||Netherlands||28.08|
|53. Royal Cinque Ports||England||24.24|
With a score of 85.38/100, the course that scored the highest is the Bethpage Black course, located in Long Island, New York. Boasting a rich history, it was originally opened in 1936 and has twice been the home of the U.S Open Championships, in 2002 and 2009. With 21,938 hashtags relating to the course, as well as 33,884 check-ins on Facebook, it’s clear the course is hugely popular amongst members and visitors alike.
A round of golf at Bethpage Black will set visitors back approximately $65 (£47.41).
Following closely behind in second place with a score of 82.7/100 is the world-famous St Andrews old course in Scotland, known for being the oldest golf course in the world. It’s only right that it ranks so highly, especially as the course is considered by many to be the ‘home of golf’ after first being played on in the early 15th century.
Rounding off the top three is another Scottish course - Carnoustie Championship - which scores 77.68/100. Carnoustie has hosted the British Open Championships no fewer than eight times, with the most recent being in 2018, and is recognised as the 10th oldest club in the world.
When you factor in the cost of high quality clubs, balls, clothing, club membership and competition fees, it’s fair to say that golf is one of the more expensive hobbies you can take up.
So, considering how much of golfers' hard earned cash is already being put towards the sport, which of the world’s most famous courses charge the most affordable (and expensive) rates for a full eighteen holes?
|Golf course||Approximate cost of 18 holes|
|1. Bethpage Black||£47.41|
|2. Barnbougle Dunes||£70.96|
|3. Barnbougle Lost Farm||£70.96|
|4. Kawana (Fuji)||£77.69|
|5. West Sussex||£85|
|6. Paraparaumu Beach||£86.89|
|8. Cabot Links||£92.33|
|9. Royal Aberdeen (Balgownie)||£95|
|10. St Enodoc (Church)||£105|
Playing at the world’s most lustworthy golf course doesn’t have to break the bank. Bethpage Black, which ranks top overall, is also the most affordable course of those analysed at just $65 (£47.41) on weekdays.
The second and third most affordable courses, at $134 AUD (£70.96) are the Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm courses, both located in Tasmania, Australia. Both courses have won multiple global awards and accolades, and offer up breathtaking views of Tasmania’s North-East coast.
The fourth most affordable course for golfers looking for a bargain is the Kawana Fuji Golf Course, one of the most famous in Japan, where a round costs ¥11,800 (£77.69). The beautiful course puts the rich natural features of the surrounding areas to use and is located within the grounds of the historic Kawana Hotel, which was first established in 1928.
At the other end of the spectrum, the most expensive courses emerged as Ardfin in Scotland (£1,300), Pebble Beach in California (£419.49), and TPC Sawgrass in Florida, where a round of golf will set you back £400.36.
|Golf course||Approximate cost of 18 holes|
|2. Pebble Beach||£419.49|
|3. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)||£400.36|
|4. Whistling Straits (Straits)||£350.54|
|5. Real Club Valderrama||£341|
|6. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)||£337.69|
|7. Pinehurst (No.2)||£336|
|9. Trump Turnberry (Ailsa)||£325|
|10. Kingston Heath||£308|
In addition to working hard on reducing their handicap score, it’s only natural that golfers are inclined to take to their social platforms and share their journey among friends, family and like minded individuals with mutual interests in the game.
In fact, the hashtag #golf currently features on more than 28.5 million Instagram posts, while golf TikTok has generated more than 15.3 billion views from fans clearly eager to stay focused on the game even when they aren’t playing.
|Golf course||Number of Instagram posts|
|1. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)||50,168|
|2. Bandon Dunes (Bandon Trails)||32,561|
|3. Pebble Beach||32,475|
|4. Bethpage Black||21,938|
|5. Whistling Straits (Straits)||20,774|
|6. St Andrews (Old)||15,065|
|7. Royal Portrush (Dunluce)||14,231|
|8. Barnbougle Dunes||11,697|
|9. Royal Birkdale||10,610|
|10. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)||10,409|
When it comes to the social clout of esteemed courses analysed in the report, the TPC Sawgrass Stadium course in Florida is the stand-out winner, boasting a total of 50,168 dedicated posts on Instagram.
Following behind in second and third place as the courses with the highest number of Instagram posts are Bandon Dunes (Trails) in Oregon and Pebble Beach in California, boasting 32,561 and 32,475 Instagram posts respectively.
The report also delved into Facebook data to uncover which golf courses had the highest number of check-ins on their dedicated pages. Once again coming out on top is TPC Sawgrass with 228,094 check-ins, followed by Pinehurst No 2 in North Carolina (94,489) and the Trump Turnberry Ailsa course in Scotland (83,5777).
|Golf course||Number of Facebook check-ins|
|1. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)||228,094|
|2. Pinehurst (No.2)||94,489|
|3. Trump Turnberry (Ailsa)||83,577|
|4. St Andrews (Old)||70,017|
|5. Bandon Dunes (Bandon Trails)||59,903|
|6. Whistling Straits (Straits)||53,428|
|7. Pebble Beach||48,172|
|8. Carnoustie (Championship)||47,091|
|9. Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog)||46,250|
|10. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)||42,227|
The events of the past two years have meant there has never been a better time to take up the ‘socially distanced’ game of golf as a hobby. As an activity that incorporates vast amounts of outdoor space, acts as a great source of exercise and helps to refocus the mind on something positive, it’s no wonder there’s been such an uptake in interest for the game.
But which of the analysed courses have proven the most popular worldwide over the past twelve months?
|Golf course||Average monthly searches|
|1. Pebble Beach||18,100|
|2. Kiawah Island Resort (Ocean)||18,100|
|3. St Andrews (Old)||18,100|
|4. Pinehurst (No.2)||12,100|
|5. Carnoustie (Championship)||8,100|
|6. Royal St George's||6,600|
|7. Victoria Golf Club||6,600|
|8. Bethpage Black||6,600|
|9. Cape Kidnappers||5,400|
|10. North Berwick (West)||5,400|
The most searched for courses during the past twelve months were Pebble Beach, St Andrews and the Kiawah Island Ocean course. The South Carolina based Kiawah Island Ocean course was home to the 2021 PGA Championship in May, which could explain why searches for the course were so high in the lead up to, and following the event.
Whether our report has intrigued you to book your own bucket list break to a far-flung destination for a golfing adventure, or you’re simply looking ahead to a relaxing overseas trip in the coming months, be sure to consider a travel credit card to keep your costs down.
Unlike standard credit cards, travel credit cards won’t charge you fees for using them overseas, in what are often referred to as foreign transaction fees.
While it’s possible, it’s best to avoid withdrawing cash using your credit card because it can be extremely expensive. Not only is the interest rate on cash advances higher than on standard purchases, some cards may charge a cash handling fee - usually around 2-3% of the withdrawal amount. If you’re using your credit card abroad, you may be charged a foreign transaction fee on top of that.
Additionally, cash advances leave a mark on your credit report.
Section 75 is a legal act that protects consumers when spending on their credit card, but it ONLY applies to transactions between £100 - £30,000.
Travel credit cards will protect you within this amount, and you can claim on section 75 in two scenarios;
A breach of contract - e.g. you don’t get what you’ve paid for, or to the standard initially specified
Misrepresentation - e.g. you are given the wrong information which convinces you to pay for a product
Travel money: If you plan ahead, you could take enough foreign currency to cover yourself and your dependents for the entirety of your trip. To help you take enough, work out how much you want to spend each day, and try to stick to this budget.
Travel prepaid card: You can add or transfer money onto this type of card, which you can then spend abroad. Some even let you withdraw cash for free abroad too. You can only spend what you top up on the card.
Debit card: You could use your debit card to withdraw cash on holiday, or for card transactions. However, you may get charged for both. Check with your bank or building society before you travel to find out how much it could cost you.
The seed list of golf courses analysed was taken from here - https://www.top100golfcourses.com/top-100-golf-courses-of-the-world *courses were only included that allow visitors/non-members to play the course - a total of 53
Distance from nearest airport- using manual research/ google, the distance in miles between each golf course and the nearest international airport has been worked out. The golf courses with airports furthest away were scored lowest on the overall index.
Average monthly Google searches - Using Google Ads Keyword Planner, the money.co.uk team found out which of the golf courses analysed had received the highest average number of monthly searches worldwide during the period of September 2020-August 2021. *the search was taken using the name of the course followed by the word 'golf' to avoid any skewed or misinterpreted results from more generic course names
Tripadvisor rating - using Tripadvisor reviews, each golf course has been assigned a score out of 5 based on feedback *Casa de Campo, Ardfin and Barnbougle Dunes were all omitted due to a lack of Tripadvisor reviews.
Number of Instagram hashtags - using instagram.com and three relevant search terms for each course, the number of times each course had been hashtagged in an Instagram grid post was researched.
Number of Facebook check-ins - using facebook.com, the number of times visitors had checked in to each golf course on Facebook was researched. *Kingsbarns, Royal Cinque Ports, Portmarnock, Royal St Georges, Royal Birkdale and South Cape Owners Club had no Facebook page associated or had switched off their check-in option for users, and were subsequently assigned a score of 0 for the overall index rankings.
Approximate cost of 18 hole round of golf - using manual research (links included below) the green fees of playing an 18 hole round of golf as a non-member/visitor in GBP (£) were worked out by the money.co.uk team. *If needed, fees for October 2021 were taken into account. **The courses with the highest rates were scored lower in the overall index
Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press such as The Express, Travel Daily, and The Daily Star.