Ranking the Best Golf States for Retirees

Ranking the Best Golf States for Retirees

Amid the pandemic, golf saw its biggest boom since a prime Tiger Woods. The National Golf Foundation reported 24.8 million Americans played golf in 2020 — an increase of 500,000 and 2% from 2019. It was the biggest increase in 17 years. 

The number of new players also increased to a record-high 6.2 million, including people picking up golf for the first time and golfers returning to the sport after numerous years. Women golfers were also a part of the rise, increasing 450,000 (8%) from 2019 to 2020 and making up almost a quarter of all golfers at six million, making it the highest number of women golfers over the last five years. 

The age group that logged the most hours on the course was in the 60-69 range, according to the National Golf Foundation. This group played an average of 29 rounds in 2020, while golfers 70 and over played an average of 40 times during the year. 

With golf continuing to rise in popularity across the country, and the older demographic recording the most rounds, we wanted to see which states ranked the best when it came to golf for retirees. We used five different sets of data points to rank each of the 50 states to see how they compare for golf enthusiasts. 

The Top 20 States for Golf Retirees


Our findings discovered Nebraska to be the top state for golf retirees with an overall score of 81.2. Nebraska graded well in courses per 100K residents at just over eight and also had one of the lowest prices for a Bud Light ($3.69). An average round of 18 holes in Nebraska costs just $29, which also contributed to the Cornhusker State taking the top spot on this list. 

West Virginia ranked second at 79.2, with its score boosted by featuring the lowest average price for a home at $123,200.

Arkansas has the lowest price for an average round of 18 holes at $26. The low green fees contributed to the state having the third-best golf score at 74.7.

Kansas was fourth and graded well with 7.66 golf courses per 1000,000 residents, while Iowa and Kentucky each tied for fifth with scores of 70.2. Each state leads the list in a category. Iowa has the most golf courses per 100,000 residents at 12.7, and Kentucky is also tied with Arkansas for the lowest average green fee rate at $26. 

Worst States for Golf Retirees


The low average amount of sunlight in a day (46%) and the expensive average green fees ($51) and Bud Light ($4.74) make New York the worst state for golf for retirees. 

Maryland ranked as the second-worst state and had the fifth-lowest total of golf courses per 100,000 residents at 2.9. 

Despite California ranking with the fifth-best average sunshine percentage in a day (68%), the courses per 100,000 residents (2.3) and high average cost of housing value ($538,500) and Bud Light ($5.16) put it near the bottom in these rankings. 

Washington’s limited number of courses (0.48 per 100,000 people) and limited sun (47%) make it the fourth-worst state for golf retirees. 

Alaska had the lowest average sunshine per day score at just 41%, making it the last state at the bottom of this list. 


To come up with this list, we looked at five categories: Golf Courses per Capita, Green Fees, Sunlight, Home Value and Bud Light value. Each category is given a score rating for how well it performs in that category. For instance, the cheapest can of Bud Light is found in Montana ($3.44), giving Montana a score of 100 in this category.

The ability to play numerous courses was considered in this study. Golf Courses Per Capita is the number of golf courses per 100,000 residents in a state, and LocalGreenFees.com was used to locate the number of courses in each state. 

Green Fees was used to calculate the average cost of an 18-hole round in each state. LocalGreenFees.com was also utilized for this category. 

Pleasant weather is a vital part of the golfing experience. We wanted to find states who have the most sun throughout the year. The average percentage of sunlight came from Current Results, which pulled together several decades of weather measurements to find each state’s typical amount of sunny days per year. 

Finding a retirement home at a great value was also considered. Home value calculations came from World Population Review. Each state’s median home value was found here and also given an overall score in this study. 

A cold, refreshing beer is a normal go-to beverage on the golf course. ESPN Southwest Florida listed the price of a 16 ounce draft pour of Bud Light in each of the 50 states, which we used for this project.