Is It Illegal To Go On A Golf Course At Night? Plus Tips For Ball Hunting

Golfing at night can be a beautiful sight to behold, as the courses are lit up with flood lights, LED flag poles and backlit holes, not to mention the beautiful water reflection.

Many golfers find tons of fun playing golf at night. They are typically meant for attractions for nighttime users and are done differently. Golfers usually play mini golf in the late hours rather than going for a full 18 hole round. As a result, it’s usually not taken seriously and is more played like a hobby activity.

Most golf courses are privately owned and have their own set of rules after certain hours of the day. They usually have times that they are opened and closed to the public. This begs the question, is it illegal to go on a golf course at night?

Is It Illegal To Go On A Golf Course At Night?

There are no state laws that govern the game of golf in particular. Golf courses that are privately owned will not have you go on their course at nights. Otherwise, that may count as trespassing and you would be asked to leave the property or be fined. 

A local public course is different and is opened to the public, but you will have to pay a fee to play on the golf course or have a membership. Some public golf courses do not permit public walking after hours. They do have rules on when they are opened and closed, so you should call them and ask if it’s okay.

Some sections of the public golf course are off limits for walking such as the golf cart path. This is usually because of safety concerns.

Golf Ball Hunting At Night

One reason why people may want to go on a golf course at night is to golf ball hunt. Golf ball hunting otherwise known as golf hawking is the art of finding lost golf balls on the courses. These golf balls can then be sold or given away to other people.

Some people tend to go ball hunting in the night times as there aren’t a lot of people there. They usually carry a flashlight with them to locate the balls as some courses are not lit up in the night times.

If you are wondering if golf hunting is illegal then the answer is no, as long as you aren’t trespassing and are permitted on the golf course. Once you are not bothering anyone then it’s perfectly fine to do so.

Always seek permission from the local pro when going ball hunting as you wouldn’t want to be fined for trespassing. Most times he’s farming golf balls personally or he has someone doing it for him. Just ask nicely and you may be able to work out a deal with him.

Moreover, it is unlawful for you to damage any part of the golf course while ball hunting, resulting in a lawsuit against you.

You should always look out for your own safety when going ball hunting as you could end up hurting yourself in the process.

For example, if you aren’t a good swimmer and are looking for lost balls in the pond or lake, you could drown if it is deep enough or get bitten by rodents.

Here are a few tips to note when ball hunting on the golf course:

1. Choose The Right Time

A good time to head out onto the golf course is when there are a few golfers around; this doesn’t necessarily mean in the night hours. Personally, the best times to do this is on Sunday evenings or early mornings when no one is present.

You want to do this so that you aren’t disturbing play. A golfer who is in the middle of a match wouldn’t want to be disturbed by hearing something strange in the woods while getting ready to address his ball.

Another great time to go ball hunting is just before a big tournament. Pro golfers are usually given dozens of balls by their sponsors days before a big tournament. These balls are often jacked off into the woods making it a great time to go ball hunting.

2. Overcast Days

Perhaps the best advice you will get is to go ball hunting on overcast days. When the skies are overcast, the balls are more easily spotted and they jump out at you. You will probably find twice the amount of balls on overcast weather conditions than on bright and sunny days.

3. Unexplored Areas

Try exploring areas on the course that has not been trod before like places in the woods or weeds where a player might shank the ball into from off the tee boxes. This is where you will find the most balls, and that means you will profit a lot from selling them.

4. Dress The Occasion

Such an activity will require that you bring wet/dry suit depending on the water hazards that are on the golf course.

Bring gloves also as your hands could get dirty from digging up golf balls. Given that you are searching for balls in the woods and weeds, it would be ideal for you to wear ragged clothing including long sleeves shirts and pants.

This will help you stay protected while hunting as you may get in contact with thick woods that could scrape your arms, and leg, not to mention poison ivy.

5. Spraying Yourself

Rodents can attack you when hunting for balls in the forest, woods or jungle. It’s therefore important that you spray yourself with bug rodents to protect your skin from getting bitten by these pestilences. It’s also good to walk with a stick or 5-iron for balancing and clearing your way through the woods.

Night Golf Events

Many golf course owners reap big benefits from night golf events as it brings golfers together in the evening when the course is normally shut. They are cashing in a lot more money and getting more golfers to play.

As we’ve discussed before, these events that take place in the night hours only offer 9 holes of golf and they are typically played after sunset. Night golf events doesn’t take place every day of the week, but is usually organized to generate more revenue for golf courses and are a great fundraiser, as well as a fun corporate outing.

Fundraising and charities are probably the two main reasons for hosting a night golf tournament.

The type of revenue generated from golf night events include revenues from food and beverages, merchandise sales as well as your typical green fee cost for those without membership.

Final Verdict

It’s a pleasure to walk across the golf course. Some courses welcome non-golfers to explore their grounds as long as they keep off the greens and avoid doing anything that could lead to the damage of the playing surface.

Some people would usually walk the golf course for exercise during the mornings, while some do it for entertainment purposes.

You must not interfere with the game. For example, you should allow players to make their shot before crossing a fairway and if you are close to a golfer who is about to make a shot, then it’s best to stay still until they have completed their play.

The same rules apply in the night times. Players may choose to walk the golf courses at nights either for ball hunting, or to watch night club events. Whatever the reason is, non-golfers should stay abreast of the rules so they aren’t charged for trespassing.

Whenever you are heading out on the course, it’s always a good idea to check with the persons in charge and ask them what time the golf course is opened for the public. Typically you’ll find golf courses opened from 6 am to 7pm, but not every courses operate at these times.

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