Bluetooth speakers and tiny earbuds are making it ever easier to belt out a tune when hitting shots. But should you?
Picture some of our most venerable clubs and you’ll conjure up images of a golfing church. The only hymns you’d normally hear come from birds chirping. It’s not the place you’d expect to be subjected to an impromptu rock concert.
Yet the peace and quiet of one stunning links was recently interrupted and led the historic club to issue their own environmental health warning.
It seemed that groups had been spotted out on the course playing music on Bluetooth speakers. Worse still, the noise could be heard by other players across the holes.
The club concerned sent out a stern message, reminding golfers that speakers were not allowed. Their club. Their choice and I’m sure many people will congratulate them for their stance.
But it also got me thinking about what the rules say about music on the golf course and what the etiquette should be when it comes to broadcasting your Spotify playlist when playing a round.
You might be surprised to learn that the rules themselves do not ban the playing of music on the course. You can listen to audio and you can even watch video as long as it’s unrelated to the competition in which you’re playing. Background music is specifically cited.
What isn’t allowed is listening to music, or audio, either to help block out distractions or to help with swing tempo.
I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here. What we’re imagining is people having a good time, probably chugging a beer or two, and enjoying their day.
The rules do say you should show consideration to others and that your conduct should not distract the play of another player. I’m not sure how whacking on your Sonos and turning up the dial complies with that.
But though the rules do allow it, what does etiquette say? I suppose it depends where you are, for a start. I read at Bethpage State Park – home of the famed Black course – they equipped their buggy fleet with Bluetooth speakers.
If the club are up for it, and everyone knows what to expect, then no harm no foul. What about, though, when there are no such measures laid down and it becomes a choice?
Firstly, ask your playing partners. If they’re not up for you belting out Slipknot then the whole thing is moot. Secondly, if your group are amenable, make sure only you can hear it. If it’s loud enough that the group behind, or on another fairway, can tell that your guilty pleasure is My Heart Will Go On then you are causing a distraction.
Thirdly, if you’re determined to do it, get some consensus on what to play. You may love Meghan Trainor, but if you’re playing partners aren’t All About That Bass then you’re going to have enough problems in your fourball – never mind what anyone else on the course might think.
If push comes to shove, stick in your headphones. Yes, the rules allow this too – subject to the restrictions we’ve already covered.
I know, though, that you’re not going to let me sit on the fence on this one. What do I think? Honestly, if you want to listen to music, go to a concert. Leave the songs for the journey home.
What do you think? Is golf course music acceptable, or should the only sounds heard when playing golf be from idle chatter and nature? Let me know with a tweet.