We think it’s quite simple. If the sun is up, you’re breathing and can swing a golf club, then enjoying a round of golf is a life bonus at any time of the day, right?
However, what if some parts of the day offered consistently poor conditions and, at times, were downright dangerous… would you still go out and swing the sticks regardless?
This weather risk is not a friend of the greenkeeper. Courses affected by morning frost will have a “closed” sign until you can get a tee in the ground.
From November through March, all rounds on the Old Course in St Andrews (and many others in the region and further north in Scotland) will require you to carry a small AstroTurf mat. All balls are lifted and played off the mat, so as to protect the turf from frost-affected conditions. Divots taken off winter grass will not recover before summer.
Fog can be tricky — and we don’t recommend ever playing in it. The fog can be downright dangerous when you are hitting with little idea of what and who lies ahead of you. When you do have some visibility and choose to head off, pack plenty of extra balls for the great white unknown, as tracking balls in the fog is challenging.
There are a few other occasions when you should never play golf. The first is thunderstorms that promise lightning, which it is mandatory to avoid. If in doubt, download a radar app for the region and check the likelihood of this phenomenon.
Many tropical locations experience hazardous lightning storms at approximately the same time each day, so research the course location and avoid risky booking tee-times. It is truly a terrifying experience trying to find suitable cover on a golf course when lightning hits the ground around you and huddling there until it has passed. Avoid this at all costs.
Another absolute time to avoid is when there is dangerous UV intensity or heat. While our skin actually relishes the vitamin D top up, it can be downright madness to head out during peak UV times or excessive heat, especially when you’re being active for four or more hours at a time.
Middle of the day, mid-summer temperatures can make you seriously unwell. Apart from dehydration, loss of salt, sunburn and cramping there is the risk of your internal temperature rising to dangerously high levels and requiring urgent medical assistance. Sun effects can also creep up on you — as the gradual temperature rise can take you from acclimatized to hospitalized!
Don’t compromise your health and enjoyment of the game by adding additional risks. Research the local conditions and book a tee-time to maximize the best conditions for your game.
There is nothing more spectacular than teeing off as the sun comes up with the quiet background, solitude and cooler air. Depending on what part of the country you live in and the time of year, this might be the nirvana of golfing tee-times or it could be the very part of the day to always avoid.
Early morning starts can be risky. There may be excessive dew on the ground that will affect your stance and balance, seriously pull up your ball, reduce run and thus overall distance. Your clubs need to wiped constantly and heavy shots tugged left will mar the entire experience as you try to extricate your ball out of wet grass. Plus, cold, wet balls don’t travel as far. Taking extra clubs will help a little, but will it then affect distance assessment on your next round?
Damp, early morning rough requires all your skill and patience. Your shoes had better be watertight. Consider tucking your pant ends into your socks (to create your own plus fours), as it won’t take long for the dew to take hold and soak your clothes.
— N. Incoll