Thursday December 7, 2023

Golf After Dark

  • Golf after dark has seen a surge in interest.
  • The electricity cost is one prohibitive feature.
Photo: Dubai Golf/Design: Alex Brooks
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The bright lights were never foreign to Tiger Woods.

Heartwell Golf Course, a par-3 course in Long Beach — where Woods got his start — is one of 56 facilities in the U.S. offering nighttime golf. 

The success of Topgolf and Drive Shack has inspired course owners and designers to revisit the experience. Escaping the heat and playing at more flexible times makes golf under the lights particularly attractive. 

“It was lit at night, just like most of the people who were there,” Woods once joked. An 18-hole round at Heartwell today costs just $19.

In 1998, David Postlethwait built Knight’s Play Golf Center, a 27-hole facility in North Carolina that opened with 18 lighted holes. In its first year of business, the course did 60,000 rounds. 

Four years later, it surpassed 100,000 and now averages approximately 80,000 rounds per year.

The Ladies European Tour, played at the Faldo Course at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, became the first professional day-night golf tournament in the world. The event solidified nighttime’s allure for competitive tournaments. 

But offering nighttime golf comes with its own set of costs.

Postlethwait said the electricity bill at Knight’s amounted to $150,000 annually. However, courses like Royal Greens in Saudi Arabia saved money by switching from flood lights to LED.

“We’re going to create golf fun spots as a response to trends in golf,” said course architect Erik Larsen. “Why not have a more intimate, luxurious and special product just in a different format.”

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