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.
It 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.