The 4 rules for listening to music on the golf course

Listening to music on the golf course? Then read up.

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There was a time when golf’s soundtrack was the trill of birds and the buzz of bees, with the background hum of mowers and the percussive beat of shots slicing into trees.

That was then. The modern era has brought us streaming services, Bluetooth-enabled speakers and a cultural shift that frequently allows for music on the course.

DJ is no longer the game’s only DJ. Do you like a walk-up song when you step to the tee? Fair enough. But you’ve still got rules to follow. Here are four ways to stay in sync with your surrounds.

1. Learn the Local Rules

At public courses, the guidelines tend to be relaxed. But at some private clubs, playing music is bad form. Familiarize yourself with the local rules. If you’re playing as a guest, and your host is a close friend, you could ask about club policies in advance. But in most cases, it’s best just to let the matter lie. Don’t bother inquiring. Leave your tunes at home. If your host wants music, they’ll bring it themselves.

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2. Get Consensus on the Playlist

For every duffer grateful for the Grateful Dead, there’s another who finds that music plain-old grating. Your first job on the tee is to find out if everyone is cool with tunes. But that’s not all. You also need to agree on the tunes you’re playing. What you think of us as nirvana might be nine-inch nails scraping on a chalkboard to someone else.

3. Don’t Push It with a Stranger

When you’re playing with friends, it’s fair game to insist on music, just as it’s fair game for them to tell you to buzz off. But when you’re paired with a stranger, the dynamic is different. Suss them out. Drawn on your Spidey senses and human relation skills. A lot of golfers are agreeable and easygoing. But not all. Assess the personality of your first-time playing partner. You may decide that pushing music isn’t worth it as it’s going to make them feel put on the spot.

4. Mind the Volume

Your right to play music does not come with permission to crank it at stadium-concert levels. If it’s loud enough for groups on other holes to hear it, turn it down.

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josh sens

Josh Sens

Golf.com Photographer

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.