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An Arm and a Leg: Most Expensive Golf Courses

Matthew B. Dexter Comments(2) 3/28/11

If Hammurabi was still swinging his club, would he change his motto: An eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth, a round of golf for a family vacation? In today's age, if you’re looking to live the dream of playing some of the greatest courses on the planet, then be prepared to pay for it. Statistics such as course rankings often incorporate numerous fluid variables and subjective viewpoints. Differing lists and opinions provide varying perspectives and room for dissent. However, you can’t argue with greens fees. It might not cost you an appendage and you won’t become an Egyptian pharaoh, but it will definitely take a bite out of your wallet. Let’s take a journey to discover some of the most exorbitant courses on earth.

The king of kings is in Las Vegas (suitable as it seems) and we’re not talking about the Luxor. Beyond the majesty, glitz and ethereal glamour of the Las Vegas Strip you’ll find the gem in the desert: Shadow Creek. Be on your best etiquette and ready to pay $500 for a round on this Tom Fazio designed masterpiece. Anything so expensive must certainly have some magical element that separates it from other Vegas courses, right? Well this course does not disappoint. It is fantastic and breathtaking, featuring lush fairways and greens that are maintained perfectly. Most people fortunate enough to lay claim on this emerald carpet will find it fulfilling and exhilarating.

Open to all guests at MGM Resorts International, Shadow Creek is not only number one in price, but also near the top in self-promotion via meritorious oratory: “If you have but one round left in your bag, make it happen here. Shadow Creek may be the most spectacular golf course this side of heaven.” Shadow Creek is a playground for the rich and famous. From March 31st to April 3rd, the tenth annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational will be held at Shadow Creek. Sculpted from the Nevada desert like an emerald statue of a goddess, certainly this legendary course will enchant the eye; however, it may also haunt the checkbook.

For those who may have guessed that Pebble Beach was the most expensive, don't worry: you'll still find Pebble Beach at number two with a greens fee of $475. This decade will mark the centennial of this famous seaside paradise, always a popular place for golfers lucky enough to appreciate it's majesty.

We must travel to Ireland to find number three: Old Head Golf Links, which will cost you $400. The views and cliffs of Old Head are astonishing. Old Head has an ambiance to die for. Pinehurst (course number two) in North Carolina comes in at number four, at $375 and the TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville, Florida is number five. The TPC Sawgrass can be played for a mere $350 and is situated between historic St. Augustine (founded in 1565) and the university town of Jacksonville. From here, one willing to burn more money might head up to Kiawah Island, South Carolina, where you’ll pay $320 to golf the Ocean Course.

Coming in as the seventh most expensive course is Spyglass, situated in the golf-illustrious Pebble Beach. The city of Charleston makes a good side-trip, combining the modern madness of golf prices with history. The unique signature of Spyglass is that holes are named after Treasure Island characters, giving this course personality as well as physical beauty.

Numbers eight and nine both come in at $300. Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin has the ambiance of Ireland, but with a slightly different accent and climate. From Whistling Straits, we cross the Atlantic again and head to Kingsbarns Golf Links in St. Andrews, Scotland. Kingsbarns is the epitome of golfing history. Six centuries of golfers have been flocking to this holy site as if it were a pilgrimage to the golf mecca. (Kingsbarns is still a public course).

Rounding out the top ten is Barton Creek Foothills and Canyon in Austin, Texas. With green fees of $298, the Barton Creek courses are the only courses in our list to fall below the $300 mark. Both are Fazio courses and consistently rank as the best in Texas.

If you're willing to pay dearly to live the dream, then playing a round at one of these majestic golf paradises may be just what the doctor ordered. Don’t forget to save some beer money, as many of the clubhouse restaurants are not exactly soup kitchens. After you play a few of the most expensive courses in the known world you might be ready for a custom golf cart, a battering ram, or a spaceship.

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image 30x30 al-moooot-2007 4/17/12


image 30x30 stanwilson 4/08/11

How about Royal Birkdale or Castle Stuart in the UK ? Both come in at $325 !!!!

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Matthew B. Dexter

Matthew B. Dexter is a 28 year old American freelance journalist living in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. His articles have been published in various magazines and newspapers in the United States and abroad. He also writes and publishes memoirs, novels, poetry, and short stories of literary fiction. In his spare time he watches the ocean, contemplates the waves, plays golf, and writes lyric prose in his mind. Matthew says that Los Cabos is a majestic playground on the edge of the earth. He says that there is simply no more ethereal golfing experience on the planet than land’s end, where the golden tropical aquatic desert submerges with the currents of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez.

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