Golf is typically a sport that is enjoyed with the company of other players. But sometimes you get the option to go out and play 9 or 18 holes alone. Just you, a golf ball, and the course at your own pace.
Some golfers hate it, while others cherish it. Personally, I think it’s fun to play solo occasionally as you can do things you can’t normally do when other golfers play with you. But there are some big downsides as well to being a solo golfer.
Keep reading to learn more about golfing solo, pros/cons, and the ways to make the most of it.
Golfing Solo – What You Need to Know
Playing golf as a single is not for everyone but some golfers (like myself) love the chance of going out solo at times. Before you dismiss the idea of playing golf as a single, let’s review some of the benefits.
Pros of Golfing Solo
Golfing solo is so much fun because it’s time for you to get out on the golf course.
Despite being an extrovert, I’ve had some of my best golf experiences playing alone. It’s great to be able to enjoy the sport you love at your pace and not have any distractions. From the first tee shot to the final putt on 18, it’s a time to assess your own game.
Plus, since we’re so busy with work, life, and family, getting alone time isn’t easy. But a nice afternoon on the links alone without checking emails or worrying about life is a great way to recharge and just golf. Again, this isn’t for everyone and we’ll review why it’s also a con in the next section.
Not to mention, as a solo player you don’t have to worry about small talk with a playing partner you may never see again.
On course practice
If you think about it, golf is the only sport where we don’t practice on the same field/court that we play on like basketball, soccer, or football.
During golf practice we typically:
- Hit from flat lies
- Oftentimes hit from mats
- Have no targets or real objective
- Have no way to judge the distance (range balls aren’t accurate)
Which is nothing like playing golf. When you’re out on the golf course we often have to navigate difficult lies, hit from the rough, have obstacles to avoid, and nerves.
But when you’re playing golf solo you get to practice any of the different types of shots you can imagine. This is a time to practice shots that you can’t hit on the range or short game area. Some good examples include:
- Long greenside shots
- Fairway Bunders
- Hitting from the rough
- Punch shots through/under trees
- Shaping shots around trees and other terrain
If you go out solo at your local course, make the most of this time and practice on the course. Drop a second ball, hit shots that scare you, and test out different ideas in a real world setting. It’ll make a huge difference and likely lead to some of the best practice sessions ever.
Record Your Swing
One of the reasons I love golfing solo is because there is no one rushing you to hit the next shot. This gives me time to learn more about my game by recording my swing. I bring a small, collapsible tripod with me and set it up behind or in front of me on some shots. Sometimes I capture great shots and other times I hit multiple shots to try out different swing thoughts.
This gives me a ton of information to help me learn more about my game on the course. Because even if you record your swing on the range, playing golf vs. practicing on a flat, perfect lie is very different.
Fast Pace of Play
Another huge benefit to playing golf alone is being able to play fast golf. Arguably the biggest downside to golf (especially for new players) is how long it takes to complete 18 holes. For most people, setting aside 4-6 hours is a huge time commitment!
But with single golf you can play very fast, especially if you’re in a golf cart instead of walking. If I’m out there by myself I can play 18 holes in about two hours aka record time!
The key is timing it right – if you go out midday on a weekend there is a good chance you’re going to get paired up with other golfers. But if you go out in the late afternoons or early mornings you can sometimes sneak out alone. This is a great way to save time but still get in a full round of golf.
Plus, you might be able to play 27 or 36 holes if there aren’t many golfers!
A big downside to golfing with others is the pressure to always score well. But when you’re out alone, there is no pressure to knock every putt in or always score your best. Ironically, playing relaxed typically leads to better swings and lower scores!
Cons of Golfing Solo
While there are a lot of pros to playing golf as a single, there are some downsides too. Let’s review some of the biggest reasons players don’t like teeing it up alone.
One of the reasons a lot of people enjoy golf is the competition amongst fellow players. But if you’re out there alone, a lack of competition might make it hard to stay focused.
This is why I suggest using solo rounds to practice more than keep a real score for your round. Save the competition for rounds with friends and use solo time as a way to sharpen your skills even if no one is watching.
Slow Pace of Play
Likely the biggest downside to playing golf as a single player is the pace of play which is both a pro and a con. If the course is open, it’s a huge benefit because you can zip around in a few hours without waiting for other golfers. But if the course is jam packed, playing golf as a single isn’t always fun.
When the course has tons of players and you get wedged in between threesomes and foursomes, it makes for a long day. I’ve had this happen more times than I can count and had to quit early because I couldn’t handle how long it would take to play each hole.
The group in front of you feels awkward because you’re waiting on every shot. But they can’t let you play through because 3-4 people are in the groups ahead of them.
While the group behind you might get annoyed if you’re playing two balls or hitting mulligans (despite being a single). Needless to say, it can make for an uncomfortable day on the links if the pace of play is slow. Ideally, try to play golf solo on off times (weekdays, afternoons, and not on major holidays).
Less Tee Time Options
Since 2020 more people are playing golf than ever before. This means fewer tee times in general and even less options for singles.
It’s not always easy to book singles (and some courses don’t even allow it). Plus, some golf courses might not allow you to book as far in advance so it’s a good idea to call ahead.
Playing golf as a single risks people not believing you if you shot a record score or God forbid, get a hole in one. I couldn’t imagine making an ace and having no one there to witness the feat but that’s a risk you take when golfing solo.
If you do make a historic shot, make sure to record walking/driving up to the hole to pick it. But at the same time you might not have to spend as much money buying everyone drinks either.
Can’t Count Scores
Did you know that you can’t enter a score for the GHIN handicap system if you’re playing solo? Despite being a game of integrity, you can’t enter a score if no one was there to witness it. Ironic to say the least – which is why it’s a good idea to hit extra balls and practice on the golf course.
Some golfers love going out solo because it gives them time to themselves. While others hate the PGA Tour-like quiet atmosphere. But you can always carry a Bluetooth speaker to get a little more energy during the round.
FAQs About Playing Golf Alone
Do you have more questions about teeing it up as a single golfer without any playing partners? If so, keep reading.
What are the best practices for playing golf as a single?
So, how do you go solo in golf? Here are some best practices to help you make the most of your round alone.
- Always be considerate about others. While practicing on the course is a big benefit to playing alone, don’t let it slow up the pace of play (or anger the members if you’re at a country club). Always fill your divots, fix divots on the greens, and follow the basic rules of golf.
- Don’t skip ahead of groups. If you’re wedged in between a lot of other groups on a busy day, don’t skip ahead without asking. Otherwise, you might run into them later and make for a very uncomfortable conversation.
- Ask other groups to join. If you’re playing solo and it’s a busy day, ask the group ahead or behind to link up. This will help speed up the pace of play and hopefully make for a better day for all golfers. Plus, you might meet someone fun and have a new golf buddy for days you don’t want to golf solo.
Is it fun to play golf alone?
I love playing golf alone sometimes. While I wouldn’t enjoy it every single time, it’s great to play golf alone occasionally to learn more about your game and practice on the course. Not to mention you can play faster and save time.
Is it rude to play golf alone?
Not at all, some players enjoy going out solo to clear their head and take a breather from life. Plus, if you can find time to golf alone you can likely save hours since playing golf can take such a long time for 18 holes.
Is golf a lonely sport?
What’s great about golf is that you get to decide the journey.
You can choose to play casually and use it as a way to get outside and hang with friends. While others can enjoy going to the driving range alone with headphones to play solo and work on their skills.
While other golfers prefer a mix; some like to practice alone and play in groups. And some like to go out and hit balls after work with friends. There are so many different ways to enjoy this great game.
Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a lonely sport at all as you can meet new people and interesting people every round. The only time it might feel lonely is if you’re in the middle of a tournament and your game is spiraling downward. This sometimes makes you feel like you’re Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away.
But at the same time, during these moments you can learn a lot about yourself and create some mental fortitude. Knowing that your game is off and you’re struggling but stay in the fight and finish strong is wildly rewarding.
Final Thoughts on a Solo Round of Golf
As you can tell there are plenty of pros and cons to playing golf as a single.
If you do get to play golf alone, make sure to practice on the course (without slowing up the pace of play). This is the best time to hit shots that you can’t do on the range and overcome any fears of certain shots or specific clubs. It’s also fun to test yourself on challenging shots or even play a best ball event with yourself!
If you’re golfing solo on a busy day, it might be best to link up with another group to not wait on every single shot. A slow pace of play makes it very difficult to get into a rhythm and play your best.