Does Music Belong On The Golf Course?

Whether in tournament golf or just during casual rounds, does music belong on the golf course?

Does Music Belong On The Golf Course?
Harold Varner III getting his groove on
(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Music is a violation of our personal privacy” attested forward-thinking Judge Smails in an outburst against his rival Al Czervik’s laissez-faire attitude towards Bushwood Country Club’s etiquette policy in the 1980 docudrama “Caddyshack.”

Most of us right-minded golf lovers can see where the unbiased and even-headed judge was coming from in that situation. How is one supposed to concentrate on a testing 9-iron approach with Journey’s “Anyway you want it” suddenly blasting out at max volume 150 yards back up the fairway?

Tournament Atmosphere

Bubba Watson

Bubba gets the Solheim Cup crowds worked up...

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Alright, alright – Yes, I’m taking the proverbial a little here. In the modern world, music is now relatively normal on the golf course. Music has become quite a feature in tournament golf – LIV has used it a fair bit and it’s definitely loud… I’m not sure it adds a great deal to the proceedings but hey. Other events feature DJs or music playing around certain feature greens and that does help create a party atmosphere. It can work.

Casual Golf

Blue Tees Player Magnetic speaker on cart with magnet

The speaker on the golf cart...

(Image credit: Future)

I listen to music a lot. I listen to music when I’m working, driving, in my garden, travelling, going to sleep, having a few drinks with pals, I sometimes listen on headphones and sometimes, when I won’t disturb anyone else, I listen to it with the volume right up. I must say, I don’t listen to it on the golf course.

I think not disturbing others is the key reason for that… I wouldn’t walk around the golf course persistently shouting, I wouldn’t set off fireworks or put a siren on my golf bag… I also wouldn’t play music that others can hear. If the course is empty or if it’s only you and your playing partners that can hear what you’re listening to, then turn on your speaker and fill your boots. But if the course is tightly packed, is it really fair to make groups around you listen to whatever is your flavour of the month on Spotify? If I’d paid hundreds for a green fee at a top course, I’d be pretty miffed if I had to listen to Ed Sheeran all the way round. To be honest, I’m pretty miffed if I have to listen to Ed Sheeran at all.

What if every group was attempting to blast out their own tunes? – There would be a cacophony of competing choruses… The youngsters in front cranking up Drake versus a group of older players in the group behind, pumping up The Clash…. Then, as there’s a pile-up on the 12th tee, a group of classical fans catch up, blaring out the Ride of the Valkyries. It would be an awful audio mess-up. Not very relaxing at all.

And that’s why most of us play golf isn’t it?... To relax. Music might well help you to relax on the golf course and if that’s the case, that’s great – use it… Wear headphones or listen to it in places where there’s nobody around… Just be considerate – That’s a rule for life in general, not just when it comes to music on the golf course.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?