What Is The Best Time Of Day To Play Golf?

I always envied the golfers who got the early morning tee times. Booking a tee time first thing so you can be out on the fairways without anyone in front to slow you down has always been top choice in most golfers’ minds. At least I thought so until I read an article by Bill Pennington of the New York Times Service recently published in Kentucky.com, the online publication of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Tee TimeIt turns out just about the worst time of the day you can play golf and expect to have a great score, is first thing in the morning. Studies show that in those early hours your body is less flexible, your mind is still half asleep and your body-mind connection is really a bit fuzzy.

Here’s a bit of the article:

“From a circadian rhythm standpoint, 6:30 in the morning is the worst possible time to play golf,” said Dr. Charles Czeisler, the director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It would be the absolute nadir of performance preparedness. You will be less flexible, your coordination will be off a little, your judgment will not be as good, and your short-term memory would be affected. “I know it’s less crowded so it might be more enjoyable, but it’s very far from the optimal time to play if you’re talking about performance.”

Obviously, more goes into the golf experience than timing it for optimal performance. Playing early allows a lot of people to play at all. Because it is often about availability and scheduling, no one is proposing we turn asunder established playing routines.

But don’t you wonder why some people seem to score better in the morning and others score better in the afternoon? How many times have you teed off at 10 a.m., played a great nine holes, then fell apart on the back nine? Is that swing fatigue or did the time of the day have something to do with it?

Sleep experts and those who study exercise science can answer most of these questions, or at least predict the average outcome. Because it does matter what time of the day you play, and there are routine things you can do — like turning your face to the sun — to improve your chances of performing better.

So when is the best time to play a round of golf?

…Czeisler, who has spent years studying athletes, factory workers, firefighters, NASA space crews and thousands of others in various walks of life, instead proposed that golfers might perform best when starting a round about 4 p.m.!!!

…4 p.m. was a preferred choice because your body is coming out of a period when the desire to sleep was strong. In late afternoon, we are catching a second wind, which is a real phenomenon. “Every study of shift work reveals that people on the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift are most productive,” Czeisler said.

To read the entire article and get the full scientific background go to this link at the Lexington Herald-Leader

As for me, I’m booking myself at 4 p.m. tee time!

What do you think? Does the time of day you play matter? Leave your comments below.

  9 comments for “What Is The Best Time Of Day To Play Golf?

  1. Lou McMeekin
    July 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    I find that I am way more focused in the morning. I try to play in the afternoons and find that I can barley keep it together on the back nine. I find that most afternoon rounds I end up just wanting it to be over all ready.

    • July 14, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Just finished playing a tournament in the heat and i am ready for a long nap!!! We played the morning but the humidity got to me this time. In the cooler weather afternoon tee times are better for me.

    • July 15, 2014 at 5:34 am

      Hi Lou, losing focus is a real downer. I agree. What I try to do to keep my mind on the game is to bring along some protein. Nuts, peanut butter crackers, any snack that will give me a boost. But it’s not always easy… especially in the heat of the summer.

  2. Tom Donnelly
    May 9, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Well, I don’t agree with any of the “morning golfers” posting here. I’m just starting to realize why my Sat & Sun AM golf scores never reflect how well I play on the range. My wife and I have been playing 1-night a week, after work. We’ve also been carding way better scores than we usually do.

    While walks down dewey fairways are nice, playing poorly spoils the experience! I had a blow-out round yesterday, so bad I stopped keeping score. Today, same course, played far better. The difference? Time of day. I may suck at golf,but I suck far less when I’ve had a chance to wake-up.

    • Pat
      May 9, 2011 at 9:16 am

      Tom, I think I have to agree with you. Best time for a good round is when I am fully functioning. However, work sometimes gets in the way of tee times. I think I will try your after work approach and see how it goes.

  3. April 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I agree with the others. Early morning is always best for me. There’s usually very little wind and less players out on the golf course. It just seems a lot more peaceful and serene and really makes your appreciate how good this game is.


  4. dallasT56
    April 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I agree with vikki. Early morning is a great time to play, as long as I give myself time to warm up. Although I’ve done pretty well later in the day. The best time to play is anytime!

  5. vikki
    April 29, 2011 at 2:39 am

    Nothing beats walking down the fairway first thing in the morning when they are all covered in dew and you are the first to walk them for the day, love that

  6. Pingback: Pat Mullaly

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