Golf’s popularity is soaring, and millions of new golfers take to the course every year.
As the game grows, building a new golf course can be seen as a rewarding investment opportunity for many developers.
But, how long does it take to build a golf course?
In this article, you’ll learn how long it takes to build a golf course from start to finish.
You will also learn about the building process, the amount of land required, and the costs involved in building and maintaining a golf course.
How Long Does It Take to Build a Golf Course?
It takes 1 to 2 years to build a golf course, from breaking ground to completion. However, it usually takes an extra 1 to 2 years to obtain permits and approvals before construction can begin. This timeline depends on factors such as location, financing, and the type of golf course.
Factors Affecting the Golf Course Build Timeline
When planning a timeline for a golf course build there are two main factors to consider: site location and site characteristics.
The first thing to consider is how long it will take to acquire permits and receive permission for the build, which varies based on the location.
In areas with strict building regulations, it can take up to 2 years to receive full permissions.
Furthermore, the location’s climate can have a large impact on build timelines. Projects in areas that experience long spells of adverse weather will take longer to complete.
Secondly, the natural characteristics of the site should be considered.
Some sites require significant altering, such as tree removal. This can extend the length of the timeline as it requires more time on-site to complete the work.
Other sites will require minimal adjustment to the existing terrain. In these cases, the construction phase will be much shorter.
How to Build a Golf Course
When building a modern golf course from scratch, there are a number of stages involved:
- Identify the site
- Remove trees, debris, and turf
- Roughly shape the fairways
- Install the irrigation system
- Finish shaping each hole
- Lay down hydro-mulch seed
- Wait for grass to grow in
The stages of this process can be altered based on variables such as location, budget, and the project timeline.
Fortunately, there are over 16,000 golf courses in the US alone to take inspiration from when building a new course!
Course designers Michael and Chris Keiser outline this fascinating process in more detail in the video below:
How Much Land Is Needed to Build a Golf Course?
When figuring out how much land is needed to build a golf course, there are two main factors to consider which will influence the decision:
- The land characteristics
- The type of golf course
Firstly, golf courses should follow the characteristics of the land. This means that they should be informed by features like the density of trees, terrain, and natural elements such as ponds and lakes.
Secondly, the type of golf course should be considered. Championship courses designed for pro tour events occupy the most land area, followed by standard, executive, and par 3 courses.
For an 18-hole, par 72 championship course, it takes anywhere from 150 to 185 acres (about 60 to 75 hectares) to build.
A championship course features relatively long holes, to challenge long-hitting pro golfers. This means the total land area required to occupy 18 holes is higher than any other course type.
Standard 18-hole golf courses can be built on land areas ranging from 135 to 165 acres (about 55 to 65 hectares).
Regular courses are designed primarily for the amateur golfer. This means holes can be shorter in distance, and the total course distance can be around 10% shorter than a championship course.
For an 18-hole executive course, about 100 to 110 acres (40 to 45 hectares) are required.
Executive golf courses are shorter than typical golf courses and feature more par 3s and fewer par 5s, with an average course par in the low 60s.
Par 3 Course
For a 9-hole par 3, or pitch and putt course, typically only around 15 to 20 acres are needed (6 to 8 hectares) to build.
The length of the holes determines how much total land area is required. Some par 3 courses can occupy up to 40 acres when featuring full-length par 3s as found on a championship course.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Golf Course?
There are a number of variables that impact the cost of a golf course build.
As a rough guideline, the cost of constructing one hole can range anywhere from $50,000 up to $200,000 for high-end courses.
However, this doesn’t take into account the initial cost of the land or design fees.
The total costs involved can be divided into three categories: land, design, and construction.
The first cost to consider is the land itself, which will vary largely based on location.
A standard 18-hole par 72 golf course occupies around 150 acres. This amount of land will cost an average of $150,000 in the United States.
Of course, this will vary drastically from state to state but is a good ballpark estimate.
When designing a golf course, it’s important to consult with an experienced golf course designer.
Golf course designers will usually charge a fee of 5-10% of the total project cost. This is based largely on the designer’s level of experience, as well as the difficulty of the project.
The designer will perform everything from site evaluation and schematic design to the preparation of construction drawings and overseeing the construction of the golf course.
The final cost to consider is construction, covering both material and contractor fees. These costs will vary based on a number of factors, including:
- The type of soil
- The amount of soil and trees to be moved
- The chosen green construction method
- The amount of drainage required
- The contractor’s level of experience
The average cost of constructing one hole is $50k to $200k, so a standard 18-hole par 72 course will typically cost between $1 million and $4 million.
So, the most significant cost when building a golf course is the construction itself. Although, land and design costs certainly contribute to the total amount.
The total cost to build a standard 18-hole golf course usually falls between $1.5 million and $5 million.
However, for courses in affluent areas such as California and Florida, land costs will drive the total investment significantly higher.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Par 3 Golf Course?
A 9-hole par 3 course can be completed for a much lower cost.
Par 3 courses cost around $30k to $50k per hole to build, so around $300k to $500k for a 9-hole course.
Once again, this cost will vary based on the factors mentioned previously, as well as the length of the course.
How Much Does It Cost to Maintain a Golf Course?
Golf courses aren’t complete when construction is over! They must be carefully maintained to keep them at a high standard, year-round.
This involves bringing on a team of grounds staff to continuously maintain the greens, fairways, and bunkers.
For a standard 18-hole golf course, it costs anywhere from $500k to $1 million every year to maintain the condition of the course.
Once more, location is the overarching factor that influences the cost. In areas with higher living costs and salary expectations, maintenance costs more. This is reflected in the membership fees charged, to enable the course to operate at a profit.
Greens are given the most care and attention. Greenskeepers are tasked with aerating the green, moving the hole, and keeping grass short to ensure putts continue to roll as planned.
Fairways, tee boxes, and bunkers are also maintained regularly at good courses.
In conclusion, golf courses can take anywhere from 2 to 4 years to be built from start to finish. This includes everything from the design phase, to the receipt of permits, site preparation, construction, and finally the opening.
The main variables when it comes to estimating the timeline of a golf course build are location and site characteristics.
Golf courses located in an area with tough regulatory requirements will extend the timeline, and so will locations with adverse climates. Furthermore, challenging site characteristics like an abundance of trees to be cleared will also lengthen the construction time.
With regard to costs, a standard 18-hole golf course can cost anywhere from $1.5 million to $5 million to build. This will depend on factors such as location, site characteristics, and course quality.