Why let the fun stop when the sun goes down?
We're sure you've had a busy week at work and wished you could sneak in a round sometime. Perhaps you're just in a busy season of life, but that itch to break out the sticks never gets scratched. Maybe you've even been on a golf trip and wished the good times could continue to roll after sunset?
We get it. There just isn't enough time in the day to make it happen, right?
What if you could add some time back on the clock? What if you could play at night? Would you venture out and get in that quick nine you've been longing for if you could tee it up after the kids go down?
We know what you're saying... "That sounds all well and good, but there just aren't that many options for that. Are there???" Well, look for yourselves:
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The rise of TopGolf as an legitimate entertainment option is one avenue you could go down. But they're just in the bigger markets and cities. They're expensive to build and it's not the cheapest option to hit a bucket of balls with rental clubs... Unless you're that guy that brings his own clubs to TopGolf?
You're not THAT guy are you?
So let's assume for a minute Jeremy Piven is right - you're not that guy (even if THAT guy in the bad dreads went on to direct Iron Man, Iron Man 2, executive produce Avengers: Endgame and write The Mandalorian). What other options exist?
"Glow Golf" has come a long way since the days of the glow stick in the ball. We can't say first hand, because we haven't played it in a long time, but their seems to be a market for it. The down side is that it's typically of the special event nature and not a consistent source of golf after dark.
Lots of mini-golf courses are lit for night play. That's all well and good, but we want to play, not just putt.
So what about lighting up a golf course? It's been done in the US since the 1960s. One of the first to do it was Manor Valley Golf Club in the Pittsburgh suburb of Export, PA. It's been successful enough for them that they're still playing golf under the lights 60 years later.
Archival photos from manorvalleygc.com
So if the idea has been around that long, why don't we see more of them? You don't need a Ph.D. in economics to figure out it is a pretty large added expense - not just during initial construction, but on the monthly power bill and weekly payroll too, since you've got to have folks around to run the place!
It's still more of a novelty today it seems, but could those times be changing? Solar power is becoming more efficient. COVID happened. If you hadn't heard, some more people started playing.
Are we predicting the next great golf course building boom? No. We don't have the data on it, but there are likely still more courses in this country closing on an annual basis than there are being built. The ones that are being built are at high-end resorts & private clubs (or so it seems).
One trend we see, however, gives us great hope. Lots of those places are building short courses as an added amenity. Some public courses and even municipalities are following suit in a lovely trickle down effect. Organizations like The First Tee have benefited greatly through these practices and now have top notch facilities to help grow the game.
Could a few more of those - most likely in densely populated areas - start to wire themselves for electrification and nighttime play?
In November 2022, it was announced that 3's Greenville - a (now) 12-hole par 3 & 18-hole putting course with lights, bar & grill - entered into a partnership with 8AM Golf to franchise the concept. We've been there during the day, but we know (second hand) that it comes alive at night!
You may have also heard Justin Timberlake, an investor in 8AM Golf, is also involved - meaning lots of eyeballs and high profile visibility! We're all in for bringing this kind of sexy back...
While most of the courses with lights are of the par-3, short or even Pitch-n-Putt variety there are a few 'regulation courses' that are lit. The aforementioned Manor Valley has 9 holes of regulation golf whereas Beacon Lakes, located just south of Houston, is a full 18 hole championship course featuring over 6700 yards of floodlit fairways!
Of course, having lights in Texas and California makes sense. Scorching daylight temps in the summer makes night golf more palatable for most and the arid climates provide more opportunities to run the lights without inclement interruptions. Golf destinations like Myrtle Beach also have year-round golf, thus leading to three courses with lights.
However, other golf meccas, such as Pinehurst, Hilton Head Island or even the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail have as many lit courses combined as we do in our backyards... zero.
Speaking of destination golf, when planning a golf trip, one of the first things we look for in the region we're headed to is look for a course with lights. For a couple guys on a quest to conquer 1000 courses, every little bit helps!
However, when we start said search for a course with lights, we discovered they're really hard to find. A simple Google search produced an article with as few as nineteen courses with lights in the US. Another site listed around fifty such courses, but more than a handful from that list had since closed or turned their lights off for good.
One day, a co-worker - knowing our obsession for list making - wondered aloud to us where the closest course with lights might be. He was shocked to learn there was one a little more than an hour away. Thanks Drew - you drove us down the rabbit hole!
Well, after a few weeks of research, we've discovered more than EIGHTY (80+) golf courses in North America that have lights for night time play! We have attempted to verify all of them through a either recent photos, an active website or course Facebook page.
For your convenience, we've pinned all of those courses to the maps below (one for desktop and one sized for your phone).
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What it does not include are courses that have lights but are no longer in use (Crosswinds GC in Savannah, GA comes to mind) or that we have confirmed have closed (Peachtree Golf Center in Duluth, GA still pops on a lot of lists or searches, but was bulldozed in favor of housing years ago).
We'd love your help in maintaining these maps! If you know of a course with lights either in your area or that you've played, let us know using the floating CONTACT US bubble in the bottom right corner of your screen (or scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page to find a similar form).
Conversely, if you see a course listed that no longer turns the lights on (or they've closed), let us know and we'll remove it.
Remember, change only happens because people demand it or market conditions call for it. If you're older than 35 years of age, you have been alive longer than the Cubs have played under the lights at Wrigley. Where will the game be in another 35 years?
Brighter?!? (we hope)
We hope this helps your pursuit of the game beyond the normal boundaries! Keep it in the light path!
Sincerely Fores, Your Golf Crusade