You might think that the best time of day to play golf is whenever you have some free time, but there’s a little more to it than that. While the majority of people tend to prefer playing golf in the late morning or mid-afternoon, is there actually an optimal time to play golf to lower your scores and maximise your performance? If you want to take advantage of the perfect golf-playing conditions and get the most success and enjoyment out of your round, here are a few factors to consider.
The best time to play golf depends on the season
If you’re playing golf in summer, early to mid-morning might be the only times when it’s bearable to get in a round (depending on where you live). Once the day heats up, the thought of exercising out in the hot sun becomes significantly less appealing – plus you’d risk sunburn and heatstroke by doing so.
To read some summer golf hacks, click here.
Likewise, in winter, you’d be wiser to wait to play till later in the day once the weather warms up a bit. Playing in the chill of early morning means you’ll find it harder to warm your muscles up, more difficult to hit your shots well and you’ll have a greater chance of incurring an injury.
Discover some handy winter golf hacks that might help here.
You’ll have more flexibility to choose your time of day in spring and autumn, when the weather conditions aren’t so extreme.
The best time to play golf depends on your body rhythms
Are you a morning person or an afternoon person? Do you like getting up and about early, or do you prefer to spend the time before 9.00am in bed? Do you feel more awake later in the day or earlier in the morning? Does the thought of an early tee time give you a feeling of pleasant anticipation or send cold chills down your spine?
Scientific studies suggest that the best times to play golf according to the Circadian rhythms of your body (your body’s internal clock), is between 9am and 11am, or after 4pm. During these time periods, most people are physically and mentally at their best, with their strength, flexibility and mental abilities all peaking during these hours. So, if you want to perform at your best during a round, these times are likely to give you better results. Plus, being at your physical peak means you’ll have less chance of incurring an injury.
In contrast, playing first thing in the morning is one of the worst times to play golf from a Circadian rhythm standpoint. At this time, your coordination and flexibility won’t be at their best, your mind-body connection is not where is should be, plus your judgement and short-term memory will be affected. (As a side note, if you do have to play early in the morning, you can help adjust your body clock by exposing yourself to bright light before playing.)
Of course, everyone is different, and your Circadian rhythms may vary from the norm, so you might need to use a bit of trial and error to determine when you’re most alert and performing at your best.
The best time to play golf depends on your schedule
For those who work regular working hours, the best time to play golf is obviously outside those hours. Some people may find it easier to focus at work after getting up early and playing a round, while others may find it much harder to concentrate after you’ve had your recreation. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you. Many people will find that weekends are the best time to play – but keep in mind that you’ll have to contend with plenty of others who have come to the same conclusion.
If you have more flexibility in scheduling your rounds of golf, then choosing to play outside the peak times is a great idea. Hitting the greens while most other people are working will mean that the course is less crowded. If you’re not sure what the peak times are at your local course, simply call and ask which times seem to be quietest, so that you can plan your round to take advantage of this.
The best time to play golf depends on your preferences
There are pros and cons to each time of the day to play golf, and a lot of it will come down to your personal preferences.
If you’re first on the course, you won’t have to wait for anybody because the course will be empty. The birds will be singing, the sun will be shining, the air is fresh and there’s little ambient noise from around you. However, if you like to have time to do a thorough warm up, hit the driving range and the practice greens before you actually get onto the course, you might find a later time of day suits you better.
Choosing your optimal weather conditions will affect when you prefer to play as well. Many golfers prefer to play in cooler weather with low humidity and minimal breeze, so will tailor the timing of their session accordingly. Others, particularly older golfers whose joints tend to feel (and perform) better on sunny days, prefer to play in warmer weather with a cool breeze. For these golfers, better times to play might be towards the middle of the day when it’s significantly warmer, rather than early morning or late afternoon time slots.
The best time to play golf depends on the playing conditions
Although any time of the day is perfectly playable, there are a number of positives and negatives to each time that will affect not only how you play, but how much you enjoy your game.
- The course is less crowded
- The course conditions are better as the course is untouched
- It’s quiet
- Lower temperatures and less humidity
- Leaves the rest of the day free
- The course will be full of dew, which will particularly affect your putting
- You won’t be physically or mentally at your best, as your body and mind won’t be awake and alert yet
- The weather will be warmer than the early morning time (which can be both a positive and negative, depending on the season) but the sun will not be too hot yet
- Your body and mind are in peak condition to perform
- The dew has dried leaving the course in a more playable condition
- There hasn’t been too much foot traffic over the course yet
- The course will be busy and crowded as this is peak time to play
Middle of the day
- The course is less likely to be crowded
- With the sun directly overhead, you don’t have to worry about looking into the sun when hitting your shots
- The weather is at its hottest
- The chances of sunburn are higher
- This is not your optimal time to perform at your best
- The course is quieter
- Your body and mind are in peak condition to perform, usually leading to better scores
- The temperature will decrease as you continue through your round
- The course is likely to be crowded
- The weather is still hot
- The weather is cooling down
- Conditions are drier
- You’ll still be in the peak time for performance
- The course will still be busy, but numbers will drop off the closer you get to evening
- The sun may be directly in your eyes, depending on which direction you’re playing
- You may have to deal with insects
- Wind tends to blow harder later in the day
- The course will be crowded
Should you play golf in the rain? Find out here.
So, to sum it all up, what’s the best time to play golf? Well, it depends. While any time of day might be fine to play golf, some times of day are going to be more rewarding (and perhaps even more successful) than others. Take into consideration all the factors outlined above and determine which is the best time to play golf for you – as it differs for everyone. Depending on your body, your goals, your schedule and your preferences, you should be able to come up with a time that’s optimal for you.