I would argue that golf is one of the most addictive games in the world. If you catch the golf bug, it usually hooks you for life.
But there’s only one problem; you can only play when it’s light outside. Sure, you can create an indoor simulator, but it’s just not the same as real golf.
Luckily, you can always play night golf!
Even the guys on the European Tour and Ladies European Tour have had this adventure in Dubai. But if you can’t make it to the Middle East for a night golf tournament, there are plenty of options stateside.
In fact, all you need is some LED golf balls, glow sticks, golf clubs, and you’re ready to go. The night golf industry is growing and there are more and more fully lit night golf courses too.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about dark night golf.
The Ultimate Guide to Night Golf (Glow Golf 101)
What is night golf?
Night golf is playing your favorite sport at night! As you can imagine, it makes a tough sport even more challenging thanks to darkness, but it’s a ton of fun too.
Night golf can generally happen two different ways.
The first way is to play with floodlights, usually on a short par-3 type course. All 9 or 18 holes are fully lit and you play with a normal golf ball. The only thing that changes is the time of day you tee it up.
Unfortunately, this is pretty rare, as it’s not cheap to install and run the lights every single day. It’s more common to see a fully lit driving range, as it’s cheaper and more convenient.
The more common way to play golf at night is with a glow in the dark golf ball. Glow golf for dark night golf tournaments is much more common than fully lit golf courses, as it’s cheaper and easy to run occasional events.
In this case, the course itself isn’t lit up very much and is more of a guessing game than a normal round. Depending on the course or tournament, they will have LED flag poles, glow sticks in the fairways, and some sort of illumination on each golf cart.
Why don’t more golf courses offer night golf or glow golf?
The demand seems to be there, so why don’t more golf courses offer this fun alternative to daylight golf? Quite a few reasons…
- Super expensive to set up and run the lights.
- Longer hours mean more staff and higher operating costs.
- Maintenance. With the course being open so much longer, it’s also more challenging to maintain it with so much extra play.
- Weather. In most places, it wouldn’t make financial sense for golf courses to install lights on the golf course, as the weather doesn’t allow for year round play. Some of the few places in the United States that could do it include Arizona, Southern California, and Florida.
Which courses offer dark night golf?
Sadly, your average country club probably will not light the entire course. But they might do fundraising events or an occasional night golf tournament for members.
Luckily, there are some around the world, including:
- Yas Links (United Arab Emirates).
- Abu Dhabi City Golf Club (Dubai).
- Faldo Course at Emirates Club (Dubai).
- The Montgomerie Maxx Royal (Turkey).
- Las Vegas Golf Center – 9 Holes (Las Vegas, Nevada).
- Champions Gate Resort – Pitch and Putt (Orlando, Florida).
For a complete list of golf courses that offer night events, check out this article from Golf Pass.
Playing Golf At Night: What You Need to Know
Since most venues don’t offer true “night golf” under the lights, you will likely have to play with glow golf balls. These balls are UV powered golf balls that use UV light to let your ball glow in the dark.
If playing golf in the dark sounds like a ton of fun, here’s what you need to know next.
Glow Balls Don’t Go As Far
The first thing you should know about night golf is that glow in the dark golf balls don’t go nearly as far as normal. Since the golf ball is very different from a normal ball, expect significant changes to distance and ball flight.
For example, if you normally hit it 250 yards off the tee, expect it to go about 220 yards. While there is no specific formula, just know that it won’t go anywhere near your normal distances. Newer glow balls are better with distance than models of the past, but don’t expect it to be like your normal Titleist Pro V1 out there.
Leave the Rangefinder in Your Bag
In most cases, your range finder won’t work very well (if at all). Depending on how the facility lights up the flagstick, it could work, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Instead, make sure to use a golf GPS or golf watch. Even though it’s dark outside, these devices will help you get a distance to the flag. Plus, a lot of them come with over 40,000 courses in their system, so you shouldn’t have a problem downloading them.
Don’t Expect Much Spin
Glow in the dark golf balls are as hard as the old Top Flite golf balls from two decades ago. Whenever you play a ball that firm, don’t expect much spin in any direction.
For drives, don’t try to play a huge cut or slice, as it likely won’t happen. For approach shots and greenside shots, play for more forward spin than normal too.
Curb Your Expectations
Finally, make sure to curb your expectations with night golf. Everything about an already challenging game is made more difficult.
- Golf balls don’t travel nearly as far.
- Even if you drive it well, sometimes it’s hard to find your golf ball.
- Reading greens is nearly impossible, even with the right gear.
That being said, it’s an amazing challenge for any golfer and more about the experience than anything else.
How to Run Your Own Night Golf Tournaments
If night golf sounds fun but no courses around you are offering it, why not book your own tournament?
If you’re ready to run your own event, here is what you need to do.
Play at an Executive Course
The biggest difference between regular golf and night golf is how far the ball travels. This is why you should play at a par-3 only golf course or a short, executive style golf course.
If you play a normal, 6,000+ yard golf course, it’s going to take forever. Not to mention, golfers are going to lose more balls and will take the fun out of the event.
If there are no short options near you, the alternative is to play from the forward tees or play from a tee box in the fairway. This way the course is shorter and more manageable with golf balls that don’t travel nearly as far.
Get Your Glow in the Dark Gear
To run a successful glow in the dark event, you need the right supplies.
Glow in the Dark Golf Balls
The first thing you need is glow in the dark golf balls. There are three main types:
- LED light golf balls. These are impact activated and fly about 65% of standard balls.
- Glow stick golf balls (not recommended). These are an older style golf ball that have a tiny glow stick inside the ball.
- UV light powered golf balls. These are the ones we recommend, as they get charged from a UV flashlight and don’t have a glow stick inside.
These you need to order online (we recommend Amazon) as there are a ton of choices. Here are a few of our picks:
- Go Sports Light Up LED Golf Balls – These come in a 12 pack, impact activated, and come in red/white/blue colors.
- R&L Glow Balls – These are real balls with no LED inside. These come as a six-pack, all green, and a UV flashlight to charge them during the round.
Glow in the Dark Tees
When playing at night, sometimes it’s hard to line your clubs up with the ball since the holes aren’t fully lit. To help make it easier on the box, buy some glow tees.
These glow for three minutes after being charged for three seconds with a UV flashlight. This way you won’t miss the ball and end up becoming a viral video on your favorite golf meme Instagram account.
Aside from plenty of glow golf balls, you need a large quantity of glow sticks too. You will need these for each hole as you will use them to light up fairways, greens, and more.
Luckily, glow sticks are super cheap and affordable. You can buy them in large quantities (around 200) for a very inexpensive price.
Glow in the Dark Tape
Glow in the dark tape will help you light up anything and great for night glow golf. It lasts up to 10 hours and is waterproof too.
Another hit when running a tournament at night are glow necklaces. These help each player glow so when the sun goes down, you can easily spot fellow golfers.
Light Up Each Hole
Once you have your supplies, make sure you or the staff light up each hole on the course. One of my biggest pet peeves when playing night golf is when it’s so dark you can hardly see anything.
Not only is it annoying, it’s also dangerous for golfers as well. Make sure to illuminate these parts of the event.
The first thing you want to illuminate is the flagstick. To do this, break a glow stick and paint the flag so that golfers have a clear target. Depending on the flagstick style, you might be able to hang a glow stick on it as well.
This is one of the hardest parts to light and why I encourage you to play short golf courses. If you have super long fairways, it’s nearly impossible to buy enough supplies to line the fairway like a runway at the airport.
Instead, try to add 10-15 glow sticks on each side of the fairways where most golfers will land their LED golf balls. This should make it easier for players to find their golf balls and not spend as much time hunting for them.
Tee boxes are a little easier than fairways as you can add a UV light or LED light next to the box but cost a bit more money. Or, for a cheaper alternative, you can light up the box with glow in the dark tape.
Each golf cart needs plenty of light, too. You can hang glow sticks and/or an LED light from the cart to make sure it’s a safe experience for every golfer.
To make it a fun experience for everyone, you should also mark the hazards and announce at the beginning of the event. You can place LED bases near bridges, hazards, and deep bunkers. This is another reason why I recommend playing these types of events on short, flat, easy to navigate courses.
Make the Course Friendly
To make your event as fun as possible, make the course very friendly. This isn’t the type of tournament to set it up like a greenskeeper revenge style.
Instead, play the tees up and put all the pins in the middle of the green. This will make each hole more manageable for all players in the event.
Mix Up the Format
While golfing at night is a ton of fun, it’s not as easy as you can imagine. Not to mention, it’s usually slower than normal golf, so make sure to adjust the format so it doesn’t take such a long time. I once played a game solely at night and it took three hours to finish a round, so plan ahead!
But these events do work great for people with a busy schedule who can’t make it during normal work hours. Some formats I recommend trying include:
- Buffet dinner and nine holes.
- 9 holes in daylight, 9 holes in the dark.
- Par 3 only challenge (make every hole a par 3 and use specific tee).
I would also encourage golfers to wear neon colors too. This will make it fun for everyone to have team colors and slightly more visible as well.
FAQs About Playing Night Golf
Do you have more questions about night glow golf? If so, keep reading our frequently asked questions and answers below.
How can I practice golf at night?
The first way to practice golf at night is to find a driving range with lights. While there aren’t a ton compared to normal driving ranges, there are some. Make sure to Google “Driving range with lights near me” to find the closest location.
Another way you can practice at night is with a net and launch monitor in your backyard, garage, or spare room. When you have an at-home practice facility, you can practice anytime you get the itch to swing a club and work on your game. Or, you can opt for a full on golf simulator as well.
If you want to work on your short range distances, you can invest in an indoor putting green and dial in short range putts. Or, if you have enough room, buy a small mat and set of chipping baskets.
Another option is for mini golf players who just want a quick pitch and putt experience. It’s a fun way to entertain a large group and work on your game from short range.
Finally, if you want to get outside, find a Top Golf location. While it’s not like a traditional driving range, it’s still a ton of fun and a great way to connect with friends and family.
What is the best glow in the dark golf ball?
There are a few options to choose from, but recommend never use ones with tiny glow sticks inside. These are the hardest to hit for any golfers and only travel a fraction of normal distance.
Instead, you should use an impact activated ball or rechargeable UV powered golf balls. The impact activated ones are great because you don’t have to worry about carrying a flashlight with you during the entire round.
But if you plan to reuse them and make night golf more common, opt for ones that you can recharge with sunlight or a UV flashlight.
How do you activate a glowing golf ball?
Some golf balls require you to manually activate them. A good example is the Night Eagle LED golf balls, which last around 30 hours!
To activate this golf ball, you need to stimulate it with a strong light. The easiest way to do this is to use your smartphone camera, which will activate it instantly.
Final Thoughts on Night Glow Golf
If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly encourage you to give night golf a try. It brings a whole new element to the game and is a super fun challenge to pros and regular golfers alike. Once the sun sets, it’s time to tee it up and have a great golfing time!
That being said, don’t expect to shoot record rounds at night. It’s hard to see almost anything, and the ball performs nothing like your normal golf ball. But even if you don’t hit nearly as many greens, fairways, or have amazing holes, I bet you will have a blast.