Boston did not make the top 10 list of most expensive cities in the U.S. Just six miles away, Granite Links golf course offers stunning views of the city for green fees of $125, not ridiculous for a high-quality daily fee course so close to a major urban area. I'll review the course in the next few days.
The cost of playing golf is a pretty good barometer of the cost of living in the U.S. The Council for Community and Economic Research has just released its scrupulously researched data for the first quarter of 2009, and the report identifies Pryor Creek, OK, as the least expensive town in America -- 17% below the national average -- and Manhattan, NY as the most expensive, at twice the national average. Put another way, a couple moving from Manhattan to Pryor Creek would more than double their buying power across the range of six criteria the Council surveys, including housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. A couple moving in the opposite direction...well, we won't get into that.
What about golf in Pryor Creek? The only alternative is the Pryor Creek Golf Club, a municipal course that opened (with sand greens) in the early 1950s, charges a top green fee of $15.50. Full family memberships are just $553.20 per year (tax included, the Pryor Creek web site notes); cart fees are a mere $10 per person for 18 holes. The par 72 course, whose design was a team effort by local citizens, plays to 6,549 yards from the tips, with a course rating of 70.6 and a slope of 120.
Other towns rounding out the list of the least expensive places to live offer more golfing options. Number two on the list, Pueblo, CO, boasts a half dozen 18 hole golf courses within 10 miles of the center of town, one of them private -- the Pueblo Country Club, which dates to 1902. Arthur Hills designed the municipal Walking Stick Golf Course in 1991. Fort Smith, AR, holding the third spot on the list, also features six full-length golf courses, including two private clubs. Martinsville, VA, at #4 on the list, boasts seven courses within 15 miles of the city, with two private clubs within just three miles. The rest of the top 10 least expensive towns, in order, are Ashland, OH; Martinsburg, WV; Mason City, IA; Dothan, AL; Tupelo, MS; and Jonesboro, AR. Dothan is home to the 27-hole Highland Oaks, one of the 26 courses on the Robert Trent Jones Trail whose membership plan is one of the best buys in America.
If living and playing in New York City is your thing, you could opt for membership at Liberty National Golf Club, within view of the Statue of Liberty, or Bayonne Golf Club, a few miles south. Initiation fees at Liberty are $500,000 and at Bayonne a relative bargain at $200,000. If you have to ask how much dues are, you can't afford it.