Experienced scratch golfers and duffers alike can agree on one thing: the cost of the game can break the bank over time. According to a 2018 Golfweek article, the median cost for an 18-hole round at a public golf course is $36 (including the cart). Equipment obviously adds some expenses, making accessibility to sporting goods stores and golf courses, as well as the ability to save income, important factors too when watching your budget. Keeping this in mind, SmartAsset identified and ranked the best cities for golfers in this study.
We considered data for 150 of the largest U.S. cities across eight metrics: number of golf courses, number of sporting goods stores, number of days with precipitation, number of days with extreme temperatures, income after housing costs, property crime, PGA tour events and number of top 100 golf courses. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.
- California and Arizona dominate. Five cities in the top 10 are located in California. Another three are in Arizona. All eight of these cities rank in the top 35 of the study for relatively low precipitation rates and in the top 45 of the study for income after housing costs, making them ideal destinations for golfers. Florida and Idaho are the only other two states represented in the top 10.
- The top 10 features the wealthiest cities. Every city in the top 10 of this study finishes in the top third of the list for income after housing costs. Three of them – Irvine and Huntington Beach in California, as well as Gilbert, Arizona – also rank in the top 10 for this metric.
1. Cape Coral, FL
Cape Coral, Florida tops our list, with a variety of places to play golf. There are 6.62 golf courses and country clubs for every 100,000 residents, the highest rate for this metric in the study. There are also an average of 0 days per year with extreme temperatures, tying the city for first in that metric. However, Cape Coral has, on average, about 61 days with precipitation per year, placing near the middle of the list for that metric.
2. Santa Rosa, CA
Santa Rosa, California is another city where there are almost no days on average with extreme temperatures per year. The city ranks 12th-best across all 150 cities in the study for number of sporting goods stores, with 8.70 for every 100,000 residents, and 20th-best overall with 3.03 golf courses for every 100,000 residents.
3. Oxnard, CA
Oxnard, California is another city where the weather is great for golfing. This city has only one day of extreme temperatures and just about 16 days of precipitation per year, ranking 11th and ninth out of 150, respectively. Oxnard finishes within the top third of the study for golf courses and country clubs per 100,000 residents, at 2.36. It also finishes just inside the top quartile of the study for relatively low property crime, with 2,007 incidents for every 100,000 residents.
4. Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale, Arizona has an average of 15.5 days of precipitation each year, tied for the lowest figure overall for this metric. This city gets six “bonus points” for having hosted five PGA tour events over the past five seasons and having one of the top 100 golf courses in the nation. There are 3.01 courses and clubs for every 100,000 residents, 21st-best overall.
5. Irvine, CA
Irvine, California is tied at ninth overall for relatively low precipitation, with an average of 15.9 days with precipitation per year. Furthermore, it ranks 11th-best for extreme temperatures, with roughly one day of harsh conditions per year. Irvine is a city where plenty of people can afford to spend a lot of time on the golf course, ranking seventh overall for average income after housing costs, $81,826.
6. Gilbert, AZ
Gilbert, Arizona is tied for the lead in the low precipitation category, averaging 15.5 days of inclement weather each year. It also fares well in terms of income, with the sixth-highest average income after housing costs across all 150 cities in the study ($83,521). Gilbert is in the same county as Scottsdale, Arizona and shares its total of 3.01 clubs and courses for every 100,000 residents, also ranking 21st for this metric overall.
7. Boise, ID
Those who enjoy adding new clubs and gear to their golf bag will love Boise, Idaho, where there are 11.63 sports goods stores for every 100,000 residents, the second-best rate for this metric in the study. The city also ranks 39th for its relatively high number of golf courses and country clubs, placing just outside the top quartile, at 2.49 for every 100,000 residents. Boise ranks 16th overall for relatively low property crime rate, with 1,579 incidents for every 100,000 residents.
8. Riverside, CA
Riverside, California has 3.48 golf courses and country clubs for every 100,000 residents, the 11th-highest rate for this metric in the study. This city also shares the ninth-place ranking for low precipitation, with an average of 15.9 days each year. However, Riverside has fewer sporting goods options, with just 4.25 for every 100,000 residents, ranking in the bottom half of the study for this metric.
9. Huntington Beach, CA
Huntington Beach, California has just under one day of extreme weather each year, tied for ninth-best overall. The city also ranks ninth for income after housing costs, at $79,059. There are 7.68 sporting goods stores for every 100,000 residents, ranking just inside the top quartile.
10. Peoria, AZ
Peoria, Arizona has 3.01 golf courses and country clubs for every 100,000 residents in the county, sharing the 21st spot for this metric. This city also shares first place for relatively low precipitation (with 15.5 days per year) and ranks 23rd-best for median income after housing costs ($62,092).
Data and Methodology
To find the best cities for golfers, we looked at 150 of the largest cities in the country and compared them across the following metrics:
- Golf courses and country clubs per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Sporting goods stores per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Average number of days with precipitation. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and represents 20-year averages from 2001-2020.
- Average number of days with extreme temperatures. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and represents 20-year averages from 2001-2020.
- Median income after housing costs. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
- Property crime rate. Shows the number of incidents per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the FBI’s 2019 Uniform Crime Reporting Database.
We started by ranking each city in each metric. Next, we found the average ranking for each city, giving a single weight to every metric except for the number of golf courses and country clubs, which received a double weight.
We also gave cities bonus points for two additional metrics:
- PGA Tour events. This is the number of PGA Tour events the city has hosted in the past five years. Data comes from PGAtour.com and for the 2016-2017 through 2020-2021 seasons.
- Top 100 golf courses. This is the number of golf courses in the city ranked in Golf Digest’s list of the top 100 courses in America. Data comes from Golf Digest’s May 2021 rankings.
We then ranked the cities based on this average ranking. The city with the highest average ranking received an index score of 100 and city with the lowest average ranking received an index score of 0.
Financial Tips for Golfers
- Level up with expert professional advice. If you’re looking to move to a city for the golf, a financial advisor can help you create a financial plan to reach your goal. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in five minutes. If you’re ready to find a match, get started now.
- A detailed budget can help you keep your spending money in the green. Looking to set some money aside for a big golf trip or new gear? Use SmartAsset’s budget tool to start saving now.
- It’s never too early – or too late – to think more carefully about retirement. Retirement is a great time to hit the links. Use your 401(k) if you have one to make sure you’re prepared for retirement.
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