Like it or not, music is hear to stay on the golf course.
Yes, I spelled 'here' wrong on purpose to emphasize the point. Everywhere I play - and probably most places you play - there's music wafting in the breeze. Although there are plenty of traditionalists and old-timers who hate this growing trend, I've learned to enjoy music on the golf course.
The proliferation of music can be directly traced to the advancements of technology. I get a good chuckle when I think about how I listened to music in my youth - a boombox, Sony Walkman and record player. None of them are very compatible for golf.
Today's Bluetooth speakers, smartphones and wireless earbuds have made all the difference. In the past six months I have tested some interesting products that make listening to music while playing golf easier than ever. Let's take a look ... er ... listen.
Music from portable golf speakers
Portable Bluetooth speakers are the easiest way to bring music to your rounds. They vary significantly in price, size and quality from $30 upwards of $300. We reviewed a handful of them and came up with this story a few years ago. Speakers can hang from your bag or my personal preference is they be magnetic and attach to the metal cart bar, bringing the music closer to you in the cart. I even had a speaker shaped like a golf club in my bag at one point. Sadly, it was so cool that someone stole it while I was traveling.
Music in your yardage device
The launch of the Bushnell Wingman ($149) in July 2020 took the portable speaker concept a step further by merging music with GPS to potentially replace your range finder. Golfers simply press a button on the remote to get a yardage or to change a song. The sound quality is good, but to be honest, I've never used the GPS component. Shooting yardges with my Bushnell rangefinder is part of my pre-shot routine. I'll probably never veer away from that practice.
Music in your ear
The wireless Apple AirPods ($129-$249), which debuted Dec. 2016, have been a game-changer for many a range session. Although I haven't encountered any golfers who take them on the course, it's certainly an option. Maybe now that Rory McIlroy, Max Homa, Rickie Fowler and other PGA Tour pros are giving TV interviews during tournaments with earbuds in, could they become more popular on the course?
Music in your golf bag
The cool golf bags from MNML Golf are an innovative, fun solution for anyone who wants to walk 18 holes while playing a favorite playlist on an attached Bluetooth speaker. The clean, smooth and minimalistic bag is lightweight. There's even a filming pocket to capture your swing and a solar-powered phone charger. All the pockets operate with magnetic closures so there's no more broken zippers. The MV2 with all the gadgets costs roughly $300 ($259 plus the $40 tech kit).
Music in your golf cart
I was lucky enough to be one of the first golfers to test the Shark Experience before it launched in 2017. It hasn't changed the game like Greg Norman predicted, but the Club Car carts with high-powered, built-in speakers are popping up at more and more high-end facilities. They're a great way to listen to music. It's easy to find a radio station via Slacker Radio that plays the music genre you prefer or to connect to a music streaming service on your phone. One of my favorite rounds of the year so far was playing the exclusive Sensei Porcupine Creek in Rancho Mirage, Calif., with my Spotify account blasting away, while no one else was on the course to bother me.
Music in your water bottle
Okay, here's where things get creative or weird or creatively weird, depending upon your perspective. I actually like the new VSSL Insulated Flask ($150), the first of its kind with an integrated Bluetooth speaker. Thanks to a skinny frame holding 8 ounces, it's small enough to fit in your golf bag or store in the cart. The double-walled, stainless-steel vacuum chamber will keep drinks hot or cold. The speaker, made by Speagqua Sound Co., holds a five-hour charge, can pair with a second speaker for more volume and screws off to become its own portable unit. When I'm not hiking or playing golf with it, the speaker sits in my bathroom for those moments of shower karaoke.
Music on the ground
It used to be that fancy golf ranges - like at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Whistler Golf Club in British Columbia and Diamante Cabo San Lucas in Mexico - were the only spaces in a golf club casual enough to pipe in music, but the short course craze has changed that. Resorts have realized that music creates a better vibe for golfers of all ages and skills. Even traditional golf meccas like Pinehurst and Pebble Beach offer music to crank up the party at their nine-hole short courses, The Cradle and The Hay. Count the Quicksands, a short course at Gamble Sands in central Washington, among the converts that see music is the way forward. At some point in my lifetime, I wouldn't be surprised if a full-length course eventually goes all in on music. If golf is truly committed to moving away from its stuffy and conservative past toward a younger and more fun future, is an 18-hole boombox the next step?
Do you love or hate music on the golf course? Let us know in the comments below.
Wear your ear buds on the course to hear your favorite tunes, other golfers may not have the same taste in music while standing over a $100 putt. Thank you for your consideration.