The damage

Mike Stanton discovers how much it costs to build a golf course

This Bank Holiday weekend is the unofficial start of the British golfing season, when millions of brightly clad suburbanites venture once more on to the manicured fairways of Britain's 2,500 golf courses to cut, hook and generally hack an easily lost ball into a hole the size of a coffee mug all in the name of pleasure. In recent years, the game has tried to shake off its stuffy, Pringle-jumpered image by becoming more accessible, and it can now boast 3.5 million regulars, none of whom think it is simply a good walk spoilt. Demand for golf surged in the early Nineties on the back of the success of home-grown players such as Nick Faldo and Sandy Lyle. According to the Golf Research Group, 99 new courses were built in 1992 alone, compared with 10 last year. "A lot of courses were built in quite isolated places and the demand wasn't really there," says GRGs Steven Blake. "You need to have at least 200,000 people living within 20 minutes' drive." It appears that course-building these days is largely becoming a hobby of the mega-rich, such as Wales's top earner Terry Matthews who is hoping to attract the world's best golfers to his exclusive Celtic Manor golf complex near Chepstow. So, if you fancy following in his nifty golf-shoed footsteps, here's the bill for an 18-hole course with a clubhouse, assuming you have 150 acres to spare ...

Teeing off Architects' fees for designing course, getting planning permission, arranging contracts, pounds 30,000; overseeing construction, pounds 20,000.

Fairway to heaven Irrigation, including a 1,000-head sprinkler system, pounds 300,000; water pump, pounds 60,000; landscaping, inserting drainage system and seeding, pounds 140,000; 18 greens, pounds 360,000; 18 tees, pounds 72,000; bunkers, pounds 4,000 each (average of three a hole); practice ground, pounds 80,000.

See you at the 19th Top-of-range clubhouse (restaurant, bars, committee rooms, changing rooms, shop and storage facilities), parking for 150 cars, pounds 1.5m; 10 golf buggies, pounds 20,000 each.

Missing links Maintenance for greens, fairways and rough, pounds 90,000; wages for six full-time staff and summer casuals, plus fertilisers, sand, flags, rakes, cups and tee markers, pounds 120,000 a year.

Total pounds 3,188,000

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