When is the Best Time to Play Golf?
Figuring out what time of the day you play golf best at can be difficult. One day you may play at 7.30 in the morning and shoot under your handicap, but then a week later play the worst you have in a long time.
But, is it all just in our heads? Is there really a “best” time to play golf? Well, I suppose it depends if we’re talking about competition or social golf.
If you really love golf, whenever someone asks you to play a social golf you tend to accept the invitation. Most of the time this is after work. The only time I would advise not to play social golf is right behind a competition, as you will be stuck on the course for a long time…a very long time.
If you are new to the sport then avoiding mornings could be beneficial. This tends to be when most golfers play and having a group of established golfers playing behind you may put you off, and you may not enjoy it.
If possible aim for mid-afternoon, as this is when courses tend to be quieter. This way you can play at your own pace and maybe even drop a couple of balls down if there is a shot you are struggling with. Overall, this should make your round a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable.
However in a competition, there may be a “good” time to tee off, although there are many variables that may make this change on a day-by-day basis. For example, if you look back the 2016 Open Championship, it was very apparent that there was a desirable side of the draw.
The players that played late on Thursday and early Friday arguably got the better of the conditions. In fact, the top 14 after 36 holes all played later on the Thursday then early on the Friday. The first half of the draw were a combined 175 over par, with the latter half over double that at 362 over par.
In competitions I have always favoured playing around 10-11am, although you could say my performances over the past few years would suggest I should think about changing that. After looking into my scores compared with the time I teed off, it is apparent that between 3 and 4pm is actually a better time for me to play.
And 4pm is a time that Dr Charles Czeisler, the director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, believes “golfers might perform best.”
Well, 4pm is the time your body is coming out of a period when the desire to sleep was strong. During the late afternoon, we are catching a second wind, which is actually a real phenomenon. Czeisler said: “Every study of shift work reveals that people on the 3pm-11pm shift are most productive.”
But what about that person who tees off at 7.30am every Saturday and always seems to be in the prizes I hear you ask? Well, every golfer is different and many cannot bear to be stood waiting over every shot, hence why an early tee time is more desirable. To add, many club golfers mainly play due to their enjoyment of the sport, not necessarily to compete.
This tee time is also the only time some golfers can get to be able to play in competitions. Local Saturday/Sunday tournaments tend to fill up reasonably quickly so taking any available time slot is the only option for some.
However, it turns out that this is possibly the worst time of day that you could choose to play golf, and more so expect a good score.
This is because your body is less flexible, your mind is half asleep and your body-mind connection isn’t quite what it should be when you’re tired. Dr Czeisler said: “It would be the absolute nadir of performance preparedness,” to play really early in the morning. “You will be less flexible, your coordination will be off a little, your judgement will not be as good and your short term memory would be affected.”
So there you have it. If you want to be at your very best and potentially end up in the prizes, you should play at 4pm.
Let us know what you think in the comments below. Is there a “best “ time to play golf, or are golfers just looking too much into the subject?
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