Most golfers will have heard the term “muni” or “munis” courses if they have played enough golf. These courses refer to municipal courses that are sometimes stereotypically deemed unfit to play on because they are not kept in pristine condition. However, you will find out this couldn’t be further from the truth.
A municipal golf course is one that is owned and managed by a government entity. This is typically the town, county, or city in which the municipal course is located. They may or may not have some amenities that public or private courses, but many are kept in pristine condition even having PGA events hosted at them.
If you are just looking to understand what a muni golf course is and how it differs from others, or you are perhaps looking to play at one and want to know what to expect, this article is for you. We will cover and detail everything you need to know about muni courses and how they differ from public courses.
What is a municipal golf course?
A municipal golf course, also known as a “muni” or “munis” course, is a golf course that is owned by a government entity.
Typically a municipal golf course will be owned and/or managed by the town, county, or city in which it is located.
A municipal golf course may have the same or different amenities when compared to a public or privately owned golf course. Typically they won’t be “blinged-out,” such as having restaurants and steam rooms. However, they will offer drinks and snacks available from carts.
They are typically regarded as the cheapest and worst courses to play on. However, this is not true at all, and even though they might be missing one or two amenities their courses, are managed and maintained to the highest degree, as we will find out.
What is the difference between a municipal golf course and public golf course?
There are several factors that make a municipal golf course different from a public course, and below, we have outlined and detailed those for you.
Municipal golf course and public golf course (ownership)
We stated that a municipal golf course is owned by a government entity such as the town or city. This is typically the town, county, or city that the municipal golf course resides in.
Conversely, a public golf course, while still open to the public, is usually privately owned. It is not uncommon to find many investors for a public course in the form of corporations, companies, real estate development groups, and even individuals.
Municipal golf course and public golf course (management)
A municipal golf course will typically be managed by the town, city, or county that owns it. Any incoming revenue will be used to keep the course and clubhouse up to date with amenities as well as to pay for any staff and/or services.
A privately owned public course may have different entities covering various facets of the club. For example, a company called Troon Golf manages and maintains quite a few clubs in Pheonix, Arizona. However, they do not own many of the clubs that they manage and maintain.
Municipal golf course and public golf course (quality of courses)
Privately owned public courses are typically kept in the best conditions. Due to a privately owned public courses business model (which we will discuss), they often have a larger incoming revenue stream, and thus their courses are always kept in phenomenal condition.
You would be surprised, but many municipal courses are also kept in tip-top condition. There are even times when the PGA was hosted at one of these courses.
Some of these courses include the Bethpage State Park Course located in New York, Torrey Pines Golf Course located in California, Chambers Bay Golf Course located in Washington, and TPC Harding Park Golf Course located in San Fransisco.
Municipal golf course and public golf course (objective)
Public, privately owned courses are built and maintained to generate income, so their main priority is to make money. Hence, playing at these courses will cost more than municipal courses.
Furthermore, public privately owned courses will typically have many additional features like restaurants and small item shops because of their investors.
Municipal courses are typically built because the town, city, or county wants to offer their residents more outdoor activities and fitness options. Thus their main focus is to generate enough revenue to maintain the course and keep it going for this purpose.
Municipal golf course and public golf course (cost)
Take note that prices will vary for both municipal and public courses will have different prices. The price you will have to pay for admittance is typically proportional to how much money goes into the course and club, keeping it running and maintained.
A general rule of thumb is that public courses are typically more expensive than municipal courses, but this is not always true.
How much do municipal golf courses typically cost?
Municipal courses will usually have lower green fees than public courses, but this can fluctuate depending on tee times. Furthermore, it is not uncommon that residents of the surrounding municipal course may be given preference to non-residents, and this can include a lower price or tee times.
Take note that not all municipal courses will be cheap due to these circumstances. In fact, Torrey Pines (one of the municipal courses that held a PGA tournament) can have prices ranging from approximately $300 for non-residents.
Well known or top municipal golf courses
As we have said and now have found out, many municipal courses around the United States offer an excellent experience and are kept in tour-ready conditions. All the municipal courses we are going to list for you have even been part of various PGA tours over the years.
There are actually many great municipal golf courses that you can play all around the United States, and there are 30 of them listed here. However, we will only be going over the ones that had a PGA event hosted on them.
Top municipal golf courses in the USA
|Bethpage State Park Course||Torrey Pines Golf Course||Chambers Bay Golf Course||PC Harding Park Golf Course|
|PGA Event||2002 U.S Open||2008 U.S Open||2015 U.S Open||2020 PGA Championship|
|Address||99 Quaker Meeting House Rd, Farmingdale, NY 11735, United States||11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037, United States||6320 Grandview Dr. W, University Place, WA 98467, United States||99 Harding Rd, San Francisco, CA 94132, United States|
|Phone||+1 516-249-0700||+1 858-552-1662||+1 253-460-4653||+1 415-664-4690|
|Weekday Rates For Residents||$65||$63||$63||$180|
We discovered that municipal golf courses are courses owned and managed by the city, town, or county that it is in. The primary focus is to offer the town’s or city’s residents more outdoor activities and fitness options. Thus, they only charge fees that will require them to keep the course managed and maintained and for any other amenities.
This means that usually, they will be cheaper to play on than a public course. However, this is not always the case, and residents typically get first priority, with non-residents having to pay more to play on occasion.
Take note that although a municipal course may or may not offer amenities like a public or private course, their course and club are managed and maintained to the highest of standards, typically being tour ready. There are even instances where PGA events were held on some of these courses due to their pristine condition.