If I would have to rank my passions one would be golf and two would be music. I love live music, I love listening to music in the car, at the gym and sometimes on the golf course. Let me paint you a picture, it is 2007 and I’m a junior in high school, I take my golf very seriously but the iPod just came into fashion and I’m obsessed with this portable music player. I felt like a rebel practicing and listening to my music, but it was the best way for me to ignore all of the other golfers on the range. I tried warming up with the iPod at tournaments but it was a hassle to take it out and put it away, plus I still believed it was taboo to listen to music on the course while golfing.
Fast forward to 2021, I now play the majority of my golf with my husband or with him and his buddies versus competitively in tournaments. My husband has one friend who is a musician/music professor so he is always playing something, usually in the soft rock to alternative genre. He never plays it too loud, but if we ask him to turn it up he will smile and oblige.
That’s quite the dramatic shift in 14 years.
Over the years I figured out that if I am playing a round of golf that I deem more competitive, I don’t plat music because I find it distracting. But if I am doing a practice session, then I probably want music. Now for what I’m listening to, I have certain playlists for the golf course. One is loaded with Eric Church, The Brothers Osbourne and Kip Moore. Another playlist is complied with Lizzo, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift. It just depends on my mood. I’m clearly not using and iPod these days, I mostly prefer playing straight from my phone but if my husband has a say we are using a Bluetooth speaker. Some courses even have updated carts that included Bluetooth speakers and Bushnell came out with a speaker that plays music and tells you your yardages.
In my research Golf Digest recently conducted a survey that showed 20% of golfer’s ages 18 to 34 listen to music on headphones while playing. Even more of this age group, 37% percent to be exact, brings a portable music player to the course, which makes far more sense to me because golf is a social game and it is meant to be enjoyable for everyone. If you are unsure about the formal rule for music on the course, there isn’t one, but under “Making a Stroke” in the USGA Rules of Golf (see Rule 4.3a (4) and Rule 1.2): you may not do so if the purpose is to eliminate distractions or help you with your swing. You should also show consideration to those in your group and the groups around you. To me that gives the green light to play music on the course.