By Andre Fredrick — Rattling Chains staff
One of my fondest disc golf memories has to be visiting Minnesota and playing my first round of night golf.
It was a defining moment that changed my feelings about the sport. If you haven’t tried it, you should. If you have, you still might find this guide helpful on your next nocturnal outing.
Night golfing can be a frustrating experience for those who are under-prepared.
I realized this after losing a friend’s glow disc and spending 45 fruitless minutes searching for it before calling it a night. I never found the disc. A sour experience can easily turn even the most enthusiastic of us off of night golf.
When done right, playing at night can be one of your most memorable disc golf experiences, so let’s get you prepared.
First, you need a course that allows for night play.
For example, my local course closes at dusk and enforcement is pretty heavy. As much as I have been tempted to sneak out and try to play a round after hours, trespassing is never a good idea. So don’t do it. Check with city or state offices to see if public courses are open after dark to make sure you’re allowed to be out there. If your local course is privately owned, check with management to see if it’s something they support.
Now that you’ve avoided a trespassing charge, remember safety. This list is by no means definitive, but the following items are good to have.
1. The buddy system: Disc golf is always more fun with playing with others, but at night it can be a matter of safety. Odds are, you’ll be fine on your own. But wouldn’t you rather have the company of a friend and the peace of mind that somebody is looking out for you?
2. Flashlight/headlamp: It’s easy enough to roll an ankle playing during the day, let alone at night. You’ll need a light source. I’d recommend a headlamp over a flashlight, but either will get the job done. I suggest bringing an extra one to set on top of the baskets to mark your target.
3. Glow disc or LEDs: I know a lot of friends who play with glow discs. If you decide to use glow discs, you can use your flashlight/headlamp to charge them. But it might be worth investing in a small black light to get a solid charge.
Truthfully, while glow discs look awesome flying through the air, I personally find them to be reliable as you can lose the line of sight within the first 50-75 feet of flight. That means you could be spending time looking for discs.
LEDs are far more reliable in terms of tracking your disc in flight and locating it after the fact. They come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve had excellent luck with Extremeglow’s Flight LED. It adds minimal weight to your discs and is low profile enough to have little impact on flight characteristics. It also will stay bright for as long as 24 hours and it doesn’t require you to permanently alter your discs.
Also, if going with LEDs, carry a roll of packing tape to affix them to the disc. It’s also recommended that you check your discs frequently to make sure the LED is secure.
4. Glow sticks and bracelets: These can be picked up at many dollar stores. Ideally, you want to get out to the course before dark and set it up for night play. The glow sticks are good to mark the end of tee pads, and the bracelets are solid to hang in the chains to show the basket. Come nightfall, they’ll serve as your runway lights.
That’s really the quick and easy way around playing night golf. Now you have everything need to get the round going. Plan ahead, make sure your course allows you there after dark and have a blast!
Andre Fredrick is an Oregon-based disc golfer writing for RattlingChains.com. E-mail him at andre [at] rattlingchains.com.