How Do Golf Courses Make Money?

There is no doubt that the design and maintenance of a golf course is an expensive business.  It is a constant and costly exercise to keep the fairways, greens, and other areas in pristine conditions. Add in the many golfers that play every day and you can begin to imagine the effort and cost involved. So today, we look at the question – how do golf courses make money.

Golf Course Cost And Income Challenges

Looking at a well-manicured golf course creates a peaceful feeling until you play some challenging golf. Being an owner of a golf course can fill you with loads of pride but can lead to financial difficulties.

This does not come cheaply, and the question arises how golf courses make money to maintain such a glorious look and offer pristine conditions. Winter months and inclement weather contribute to the pressure of keeping the course going.

Many a golf course has been abandoned during economic downturns due to the high cost of keeping it alive and prospering.

One of the most common ways to raise funds is by increasing the number of members. However, this is not always possible during tough times such as the Covid-19 pandemic or the 2008 economic downturn.

This forces entrepreneurs to think outside the box and generate additional income streams otherwise the course will fall into neglect, lose members, attract fewer visitors, and eventually come to a screaming halt.

Part of the challenge is that the better the condition of the course the more members or players you will attract. This, however, costs more money. It is a bit of a juggling act to find the correct balance.

Ways To Raise Money For Your Golf Course

The most common income streams are green fees, membership fees, pro shop sales, and food and beverage sales.

While increasing membership fees or green fees might seem like a good way to increase revenue, it might put off more golfers than the additional income earned.

None of these income streams are much help during inactive periods when golfers do not play frequently. Many golf courses are feeling the financial pinch.

Offer Special Packages

Many golf clubs offer special packages for midweek, weekend, or senior golfers to boost their membership numbers. The purpose of these packages is to draw golfers to your course during slow times.

This allows golfers to join your golf course at a reduced fee and receive the benefit of being a member.

It should be aimed at prospective members and increasing the number of visitors. Golfers that play infrequently are likely to take up specials that reduce the unit cost of around. Allowing them to pay for multiple rounds at a reduced fee is also likely to bring them back to your course.

Attracting more members is a sure way to boost your pro shop and food and beverage sales.

Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are used in multiple industries as a tool to attract repeat customers. Research has found that twenty percent of your customers generate eighty percent of your income streams. The more repeat business, the higher the income.

It cost less to satisfy a repeat customer than the cost involved in increasing your membership numbers. Excellent customer service and innovative loyalty programs will go a long way to keeping your ship afloat.

Loyalty points can be used to increase your sales in the pro shop as well since golfers tend to enjoy getting a reward for being loyal.

Branded Merchandise

Branded merchandise makes a golfer feel like a member of a community and serves as marketing for your golf course. Imagine someone is paying money to advertise your merchandise and golf course!

It is a good idea to set a budget for some prize giveaways linked to events at your golf course to attract golfers to participate.

The most frequently sold branded items are pitch repairers, caps, towels, and similar merchandise.

Advertising Space

No, this is not an advertisement for Robbie Williams’s song! Advertising Space. And no one learned from your mistakes, The little profits go to waste.

You have a vast expanse of land that can accommodate some advertising boards from your local community that supports the golf course. This can raise your financial prospects considerably thus enabling you to attract more golfers.  The beauty of it all is that the more members and visitors you attract, the more finance your advertising can rake in.


Sponsorship can go a long way for you to promote incentives for membership by pooling regular golfers’ names and have a monthly draw to hand out a prize. This can be conditional on the number of rounds a golfer has played or something similar.

Larger sponsorship deals will enable you to offer larger, or more prizes that make holding a golf day or competition worthwhile.

Sponsors putting up their displays during the event promotes the perception of a successful club. Unfortunately, or in this case, fortunately, in the real world perception is reality.


E-commerce is becoming extremely popular with the next generations and we have learned through the lockdown period that it can sustain you during depressing times.

The setup and maintenance of the e-commerce platform can be quite cumbersome to load all your products and maintain specials in real-time. However, the benefits of having this interaction with golfers are incredibly important. Online browsing can display all your products making it easier for the golfer to add more to their basket of purchases.

Not only does it boost your sales and income, but it also allows you the opportunity to get to know your customers better and provide targeted offerings based on their previous history. Furthermore, it builds a database of customers, current and prospective, thus enabling you to stock your pro shop with suitable items and numbers.

Providing options to deliver is a service that most companies offer and provide comfort to the customer. Another option is for the golfer to collect the purchase at the pro shop during their next round.

Most e-commerce sites have a marketing package that allows you to send targeted emails to clients that subscribe to your website. This is another form of marketing that can reach a larger forum of interested parties.

Online Booking Facility

Online booking is an essential service to provide. Golfers will search the internet for tee times when they want to book at short notice. In earlier days you had to phone the golf courses to determine whether there is a slot available, now it is done from the comfort of your mobile device.

The number of bookings is likely to increase when golfers can visit the site any time of day or night and book a slot.

On-Course Refreshments

Providing on-course refreshments at strategically placed holes where golfers can stock up with refreshing cold beverages, or even a hot beverage on a cold day can increase the sales when golfers forget to stock up before the round or a halfway house.

Offer Other Services

Many golf clubs make good money from coaching, club fitting, a driving range, and other services. Something that is becoming extremely popular, especially in the colder areas where you might not be able to play for part of the year, is golf simulators.

The range in price and performance but there are some exciting models available. These will attract people all year round and generate income while also boosting food and beverage sales. They will attract friends and families and are ideal for corporate events.

Final Thoughts

Owning and running a golf club can be loads of fun yet create much stress at times when numbers drop or golfers do not have a large cash flow.

To boost income all you have to do is use your imagination and look around at what competitors are doing. Then go do it better or implement something that they do not do.

Exclusivity can go a long way to financial security, but you have to work long and hard in building a reputation before the golf club becomes so exclusive that patrons are prepared to pay handsomely for the privilege to your establishment.

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Nick is the founder of GolfSpan and an avid golfer. He's not quite a pro but has over 15 years of experience playing and coaching golfers worldwide. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience when it comes to choosing the right golf gear and finding the right setup for your game.

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