Playing golf in the dark is like trying to walk through your darkened house – you can picture in your mind where everything should be, but actually getting from Point A to Point B without stubbing your toe is an adventure.
I got a chance the other night to experience this phenomenon, and it was definitely worth it. Was it as much fun as playing during the day? No, I can’t say that, but it was a nice change of (very dark) scenery.
I knew so little about how night golf works, I had no idea how the course would be lit and what kind of ball you use. And if I knew nothing about it, I’d imagine a lot of other golfers can’t fathom it, either. So here’s a primer:
First, the ball. You use a “glow ball,” which lights up when you tap it against your club to activate the sensor. Each foursome has balls in four different colors.
The sensation of watching your lit-up ball streak across the night sky is amazing. It’s much easier to track it than it is during the daytime, and when someone from another group hits a ball near you, it’s not hard to see it coming.
Our nine-hole course was marked with lights to designate where everything was. There were green lights on each side of the fairway, blue lights in front of hazards and bunkers and red lights around the green. The flagstick had flashing lights, and a small glow rod illuminated the cup.
So we could see pretty clearly where to hit it, and the cart’s GPS screen told us exactly how far we should hit it. On that score, we had no excuses.
But then there’s the part about actually hitting the ball when your only point of reference is the lit ball at your feet.
It was strange to be warming up on the range at sunset for a round of golf, but it’s a downright weird feeling to try to hit a ball in nearly total darkness. It’s almost like trying to hit it with your eyes closed.
You can’t tell whether the lie is any good.
You have this odd sensation of barely being able to see your club, which makes it even harder to swing it normally.
And you might as well not worry about the target, given all that. It’s up there somewhere, and you can see the flashing pin. But your senses are so messed up, all you can think about is not whiffing.
I didn’t whiff, but I’ve never hit so many fat, ugly shots in my life. I just couldn’t get my arms and legs to work together through the ball normally; it was as if they, too, were trying to walk through the dark.
It didn’t get any easier near the green. Even if you walked up there and got a look at how much green you had to work with, you couldn’t see it when you got over the chip shot. All you could do was hit and hope.
And putting was surreal. You couldn’t read the line at all, so you had to rely on your previous experiences at the course and take an educated guess which way the putt might go.
But once you putted the ball, it was way cool. It was like watching that tracker they use on television to show the break – you could see exactly what the break was doing to the putt.
When we finished, we all agreed that we’d like to do it again someday … er, some night. But I also knew that I’ll have a new perspective the next time I play in sunlight.
I’ve stubbed my toe on the furniture enough times to know that walking in the dark can be a little dicey. It’s not a good feeling. But night golf is still golf, after all, and that never hurts.