Are you the kind of golfer who, when on a trip, starts playing golf in the morning and literally can't stop until the sun goes down?
Then you must love the week of the summer solstice, home of the longest days of the year. Growing up in Michigan, I always looked forward to a twilight round of golf at my home course in mid-June. I felt it was the best way to "beat the house," managing a full 18 on my 5,000-yard course before dark on a reduced, $7 green fee.
There are golf destinations that are legendary for long days. In places like Northern Michigan, the solstice sunrise is 5:52 a.m. and the sunset is 9:32 p.m. It's no surprise there are many multi-course resort courses that cater to all-day binges.
Farther north, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, a course I could play every day (twice a day, all summer long) has daylight from 5:26 a.m to 10:26 p.m. Or you could play JPL, then make the three-hour drive down to Banff Springs for the PM 18.
You don't need to play golf on the solstice to play a ton of holes in one day. If your idea of a great golf vacation is 36, 54 or more holes every day, there are a few ways you can tip the odds in your favor. Here are 18 tips to keep in mind if you want to play as much golf as possible in one day.
To you golf junkies out there, I'd be eager to hear your tips on how to play a ton of golf.
Stay-and-play at a multi-course golf resort
Both times I've visited Garland Resort in Northern Michigan, I've played at least 54 holes in a day. It's a property that brings out the golf junkie in me because it's easy to do for a variety of reasons, the chief of which being there are four first tees within a stone's throw of one another. You don't have to drive to another facility. Literally the second you finish the 18th, you can check with the starter and know which course is the most wide open.
Don't play the most popular/expensive courses
The best courses in any given destination are in all likelihood among the most popular with less space on the tee sheet. Instead opt for lesser-known, hidden gem-style resorts that are less busy. And you shouldn't rush a pricey round, either. When you're playing fast golf, you're not exactly savoring the architecture, anyway.
Go off peak
Summertime in the northern hemisphere is when there is the most daylight, of course, so if you want wide open tee sheets, you'll want to avoid the crowds and play midweek.
In the south, summertime is off-peak in many destinations, so you should have wide open tee sheets, especially after noon. You're more likely to encounter thundershowers in the southeast compared to the west, so point your compass towards the desert. Stay plenty hydrated and lather yourself up with sunscreen (and re-apply).
Seek out unlimited golf packages
Most resorts, especially mid-week, offer unlimited golf packages. Generally speaking, your afternoon/evening rounds are based on space available, so go to resorts with a lot of options. Check out our Stay and Play package page which has over 100 golf packages in North America to choose from.
Get the private club hookup
Getting on a private club is usually the best way to ensure an open tee sheet, especially if it's midweek and the membership is largely national and not local.
Tee it forward
If you are planning to embark on a total golf binge, don't play the Tiger Tees. Those long-iron swings and missed greens will sap energy and add minutes.
Do it for charity
A few years ago, the 100-hole-hike was founded by a golfer in Colorado named Jim Colton, who wanted to raise money for a paralyzed caddie at his club. Now, there are many golfers raising money for a charity of their choice by playing as much golf as possible, and around the solstice that's a good proposition.
Play somewhere with a short course (or two)
Consider playing a short course in between full-length 18s to give your body a breather. The different challenge of short courses should keep you more mentally engaged as well. Playing the Big Cedar Lodge "cycle" - Top of the Rock, Mountain Top, Buffalo Ridge Springs and Ozarks National - all in one day is a junket I'd raise my hand for.
Travel to where the days are long
In the summer, the farther you head towards the poles, the longer your days will be. Alaska is an extreme case. In Fairbanks, the sunrise-sunset times are just two hours apart on the summer solstice. The Scottish Highlands are a nice alternative, with sunrise happening just past 4 a.m.
Of course, we don't condone teeing off without checking in with the pro shop. So if you would like to be first out, do call ahead and see what can be arranged.
Don't play stroke-and-distance
Save the re-tees on this day and play all lost balls and O.B. as lateral penalty areas.
Play some forgiving layouts
Speaking of, look for courses light on O.B., water and sand traps. Instead seek out forgiving fairways and ample playing corridors.
Play 'Speed Golf.' Literally
I've played Speed Golf - where your total score is strokes plus minutes - on several occasions, and you can get in 18 holes in about an hour. You could theoretically get in a marathon of miles in one day by playing 4-5 rounds of golf.
Hit. Run. Repeat. At the crack of dawn I tried out @playspeedgolf for the first time in #atx at Bluebonnet Hill. 5 miles. 18 holes. 84 strokes in 76 minutes. Into the office by 9 am easy. Is this something you'd incorporate into your fitness and/or golf regimen? @golfadvisor #livingthegreen #atx #multisport @scottdawleygolf #speedgolf
Cruise around on Golfboards or bikes
One of the big trends in golf these days is alternative (and fast) on-course transportation. A golf cart isn't the quickest way to play if you have someone else in it. But with new products like Golfboards, Finn Scooters and golfbikes, golfers can cruise quickly to their ball (and no one else's).
Just say 'no' to stroke play
Rather than grind out a score, play modified Stableford, Wolf, match play or any other games that let you pick up once your partner or opponent is in the hole. If you're a GolfPass member, you have access to our Trip Manager, which provides a wealth of different team games to choose from including stableford, skins and more.
You may want to change clothes between rounds if it's humid out to stay fresh. Changing socks or even your golf shoes could give your feet a jump start. I like to change out of my golf shoes during lunch or any other down time just to relieve certain pressure points before heading back out. By the way, if you're walking, using a push cart should save your back.
Go somewhere with night golf
Who says you have to stop when the sun goes down? Jason Deegan recently chronicled all the places you can keep playing after dark in the U.S.
Don't make dinner plans
Have you ever been on vacation and the only thing standing between you and a glorious emergency twilight round is a dinner reservation? Keep your belly full enough with granola bars or other protein-on-the-go options, and then celebrate with a big meal afterwards. Make sure the resort's restaurant is still going to stay open for you.
Bring medicine (or swing fuel)
I'd advise against an all-day alcohol regimen when you're looking to play a lot of holes. But I will admit that some swing oil late in the day will keep the aches at bay. Or, pack Advil or other painkillers.