Playing at night can be a fun way to change your game up

Glow discs, like these, are one way to play night golf. Having LED lights on the disc is another.

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.

Preparing for a throw during a night-golf outing. (photo by Michael Owskey).

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.

Andre Fredrick throws during a round of night golf (photo by Michael Owskey)

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.

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0 thoughts on “Playing at night can be a fun way to change your game up

  1. Glow golf rules! It helps exercise the Jedi in you. Thanks for the article. I wanted to add to it by emphasizing the responsibility to clean up the glow sticks and bracelets after play. These items are plastic and are litter. Pack it in. Pack it out. Thanks.

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  2. Pingback: Talking night golf over at Rattling Chains « TALKdg.com

  3. Good topic of conversation. I was once excited about night disc golf until I discovered some safety concerns.

    Not mentioned previously is the lack of ability to not only see your target, unless lit, but often times you may not realize people may be where you least expect them. Not being able to see who is on the course — around foliage, or just out in the park watching the stars from a blanket, can pose risk for injury.

    On the other side of the coin, during night play, it is a lot more difficult to see others that are playing around you. I have experienced having “lighted flying saucers” land at my feet that could have hit me in the head, especially on short and/or dense courses.

    In our state of Texas, as with many other warmer southern states, snakes like to travel at night. With night golf, it’s always a good idea to know where you’re stepping and throwing, and seeing what’s around your disc before you pick your disc up. That applies for unsuspecting canine deposits, as well. I carry a short stick with a small hook to pull my disc up from the ground and out of shrubbery. You may not realize your disc has landed in poison oak or poison ivy.

    The West Nile Virus is becoming a greater health concern for everyone in the southern states. Night golf invites mosquitoes to dinner. Using your most trusted form of repellent could save your life.

    As mentioned, I have definitely found the LED lighting to be the more effective way to follow a disc during night play. The LED’s I use can be set to blink, which makes tracking the disc quite easy. I enjoy seeing the lighted discs sail through the air at night, resembling flying saucers. They’re cool to watch. The glow discs, from my experience, lose their intensity too quickly for me. I prefer the brighter LED’s.

    Another two points about night visual difficulties. The first being the danger of stepping into potholes that can ruin your day by spraining or breaking an ankle. The second point is the fact that night brings about a loss of depth perception. It is far more difficult to tell how far away you are from your intended placement.
    The use of a headlamp, as mentioned previously, is a necessity in my book. I prefer the type of headlamp that can be focused from broad areas to specifically targeted objects. I also use a headlamp that allows me to adjust the beam output. It often helps to have extra lumens when you need them, but the brighter your lamp, greater caution must be used not to blind other players or oncoming cars if nearby, let alone, yourself!
    Many bright lights on the market today can seriously damage eyesight.

    In summary, night disc golf can be challenging and rewarding, but with it, comes a variety of extra hazards. I would follow a simple rule of thumb a friend once told me, “Always error on the side of safety” — meaning that if you are to make any errors in judgment, make them by being overly safe rather than increasing the risk factor. Catching a disc in the eye or head need only happen one time to ruin your game or someone else’s for life.

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  4. Good points, Stan! I was remiss not to mention them. The course I play is pretty remote, so car traffic isn’t too much of a problem. Luckily, here in my part of Oregon venomous snakes aren’t a huge risk. Nor are mosquitoes, and having moved here from Minnesota, I can say I don’t miss the little buggers.

    For visibility, my buddies and I usually sport some glow bracelets in our belt loops and such.

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    • it is costly but well worth the price per basket. in the long run it not only fits my baskets but fits most every other baskets… up to 2 inch diameter pole. the only draw back is leaving them out to the elements which i dont recomend. other wise it offers up to 40 LED lights w/ a combination of 3 settings (has to fit w/ in an inner chain dia of 8 inch ring)

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