Generally speaking, bucket-list golf courses come with a premium price tag -- very premium.
At places like Pebble Beach Golf Links, for example, you're looking at $525 for the green fee alone, and that doesn't count the minimum two-night stay on the property (which can be $1,500 or more) for advanced tee times.
At the newly renovated Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., it's $549 to play in peak season. Fortunately, to get an advanced tee time, there isn't a requirement to stay at the resort, which is the Marriott Sawgrass Golf Resort & Spa. But staying there does have its benefits. More on that in a moment.
And unlike Pebble Beach, that $549 isn't carved in stone. There are times when you can pay less. In fact, discounted green fees on the Players Stadium Course (designed by Pete Dye and opened in 1981) don't work like they do in Orlando, for example. Winter time isn't premium season at TPC Sawgrass because the Jacksonville area is a little cooler than central and south Florida, and the course isn't overseeded. When The Players Championship moved from March back to May a few years ago, they stopped overseeding the course, which means the Bermuda fairways (and possibly greens) can go dormant or semi-dormant during winter, and conditions won't be ideal. But if it's a mild winter, the course could be in pretty good shape, and late December and January might be a pretty good time to play it.
For example, you can play the Players Stadium Course on Dec. 23, 24 or 25 for $399, and there's usually a decent chance to for good weather that time of year (highs average in mid 60s with lows in high 40s). These rates hold true through the end of February, but as spring approaches as well the Players Championship, they go back up to their prime rates.
You might catch a break on green fees in the heat of the summer, although that's yet to be determined. In dynamic pricing, it all has to do with supply and demand. And since the course uses warm-weather grasses, conditions are generally outstanding then.
Of course, these rates don't include caddie fees, which can range from about $50 a player, including tip, for a forecaddie for the group, to upwards of $200 for fee and tip for an individual caddie.
It also might benefit you to book a package at the Sawgrass Marriott to save a little money. For example, through PGA Tour Experiences, for a little less than $1,300, you can get a winter package of three nights of accommodations, a round on the Players Stadium Course, two rounds on the Dye Valley Course, complimentary breakfast and other goodies.
And if you are going to play the Players Stadium Course, I do recommend playing Dye's Valley Course (annual home of the Web.com Tour Championship). It's much cheaper to play and also a premium experience. In fact, you're not booking a package, you can book the Valley Course on GolfNow for as little as $135 after 1 p.m. right now.