The Holes Are Alive With The Sound Of Music

From boomboxes blasting Kiss to earbuds emanating Daft Punk, more & more golfers are hitting ‘Play’ when they play

I’m setting up for my tee shot, and the marshal is not happy. It’s late spring 2000, and I’m on the 13th hole at the Rancho Solano Golf Course in Northern California, where I work part-time while in college. The marshal, who’s pushing 70, has parked his red cart behind my group. Nestled between my two playing partners is the source of the marshal’s ire: a portable boombox playing a particularly profane track from Jay-Z’s “Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter.” I turn, address the ball, and crack my drive straight down the fairway. I grin. He scowls and barks at my friends to turn down the music.

None of us is exactly surprised. For most of golf’s history, players have been expected to strike the ball in meditative silence, followed—if they hit a great one—by a muted “golf clap.”

But much has changed in the past few years. A growing number of amateurs and pros are bringing music to the range and out onto the course. A recent Golf Digest reader survey showed 20 percent of golfers 18 to 34 listen to music on headphones while playing. Even more of this age group—37 percent—bring portable music players to the course. Compare that with 22 percent of those 35 to 54 and just 6 percent of golfers 55 and up.

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