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Timing is Everything

Temperatures are beginning to rise. Daylight is lasting longer. And spring fever has begun, as golfers throughout the Northeast and Midwest are itching to play golf after a long winter’s break.

This Sunday, March 10th, the unofficial start of spring, Daylight Savings Time, begins, adding an extra hour of sunlight to each day.

As this change approaches, we’re curious – how will you initiate this annual rite of spring?

Will you play your next round in the morning, or will you take advantage of the extra hour of sunlight and play in the evening? Is there an optimal time to play?

To maximize your performance and lower your scores, we’re offering the following tips.

Dobson Ranch Golf Course in Mesa, AZ, at sunrise.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise…Early to Golf?

Gary Player once said, “If there’s a golf course in heaven, I hope it’s like Augusta National. I just don’t want an early tee time.”

But not everyone agrees with The Black Knight’s perspective. In fact, many golfers prefer early morning tee times – and often have no choice, due to their work schedules.

For some golfers, the positives of morning tee times are obvious: lower temperatures and humidity, less crowds, and improved course conditions. But there are some negatives to playing at the break of dawn, too.

According to The New York Times, Dr. Charles Czeisler, professor of sleep medicine, Harvard University, believes golfers should not play early in the morning.

“From a circadian rhythm standpoint, 6:30 in the morning is the worst possible time to play golf,” said Czeisler. “You will be less flexible, your coordination will be off a little, your judgment will not be as good, and your short-term memory would be affected.”

The circadian rhythm, your body’s “internal clock” so to speak, is influenced by darkness and light over a 24-hour period. This natural rhythm, which helps to control humans’ activity levels, leads to peaks in mental and physical capability, varying according to the time of day.

Consequently, during an interview with Golf Digest, Darrel Drobnich, the former chief program officer for the National Sleep Foundation, recommended that golfers either play between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., or later in the afternoon.

“There are two periods of the day when the body has less alertness,” Drobnich said. “One is midnight to 6 a.m. (and) the other is 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.”

According to The New York Times, Czeisler agrees, advising golfers to begin their rounds either around 10 a.m., or 4 p.m.


Rivers Edge Golf Course in Needles, Calif., at sunset.

Twilight Golf: The Best Option?

Further evidence has proven that late afternoon and early evening tee times are ideal, when physical performance is optimized to its fullest potential.

The New York Times has reported that past studies have shown athletes’ strength, flexibility, and mental capacity peak between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, according to The Wall Street Journal, Michael Smolensky, an adjunct professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Texas, Austin, has revealed that physical performance tends to rise to its highest aptitude between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. In addition, he has found that muscles and joints are up to 20 percent more flexible in the evening, thereby minimizing the risk of injury.

Of further interest, Boris Medarov, an assistant professor of medicine at New York’s Albany College, has discovered that lung capacity function increases by nearly 18 percent at 5 p.m., when compared to earlier in the day.

But, if you have no option other than early morning golf, Shawn Youngstedt, associate professor, exercise science, University of South Carolina, has realized you can still make the most out of your tee times – by resetting your circadian system.

“There is empirical evidence that bright light in the morning will help adjust the body clock,” Youngstedt said. “It does not take a lot and can affect mood, behavior, and function.”

The Daily Tee wants to know: what is your ideal time to play? And will your newly-found knowledge of the circadian system – and the benefits of later tee times – change your routine?


Featured image courtesy of Inverness Golf & Country Club near Denver, CO.

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