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Ready, Set, Glow

Mar. 14 2019, Published 4:21 p.m. ET

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Until Ellie suggested it, I’d never heard of Glow Golf. “What, like a rave?” I asked, picturing us untz-ing to house music in-between shots—but it wasn’t quite like that… writes Lauren Pero

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Ellie is notoriously hip (she’s a fashion designer)and usually comes up with the most interesting suggestions. Our follow-through is about 50/50 on her schemes but this seemed like a good idea from the beginning, and I told her as much. “I hope so,” she answered, laughing. But our club’s (former) pro saw things differently:

“I don’t hate many ideas, but I hate this one,” he said. “But if you can get it through the golf committee then I guess we can do it.” Had this guy ever met us? “No” is a challenge, not an ultimatum, and this challenge didn’t take long. A few phone calls and a few days later we’d been cleared, and planning began.

We spread the word to all our friends that we were doing a casual co-ed night and that they should bring their party pants. Then, an hour before sunset, Ellie and I—husbands in tow—armed ourselves with an arsenal of neon supplies and carted around the course to set up. We used glow stakes every 20 yards or so (seriously, is there anything you CAN’T find on Amazon?) to make a landing strip outlining each side of fairways. On the greens we placed a bright neon ring inside each cup and looped another ring over the pin for good measure. I was slightly concerned that all this stuff wouldn’t actually work; there’d be lost balls for sure (especially for those with a habit of slicing the hell out of their drives, ahem), but would I step into a creek? Would raccoons run off with our glow balls? Who knew. In any event we were looking forward to hanging out and enjoying a moonlit cocktail on course.

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Everyone started showing up and we passed out glow necklaces and bracelets. Each golfer also got three nifty LED balls, which activated upon impact. Once hit, they’d stay lit for eight minutes; it would be a race to get to your ball before the glow vanished—talk about “ready golf!” We’d decided on a shotgun scramble format

  1. For speed
  2. For fun
  3. To increase the chance of not losing the damn ball and We’d persuaded some non-golfing girlfriends to golf and we wanted their first impression of the game to be chill

As soon as the sun set we were off, push carts loaded with clubs and cocktails. (Push-only; we figured the dark and the booze would be a poor combo to navigate while driving.) We teed up and hit and…holy crap. The glowing trajectory looked like something out of a sci-fi movie, and we could actually see where our drives landed, even those that missed the fairway. Music bumping from our portable speakers, we set off down the first hole in exhilaration. This was definitely not a traditional country club round, and it felt good.

We’d decided to skip the holes with the most water (for obvious reasons) but on the approach to the pin on our first hole a small pond lay in front of the green. I tried to carry from about 100 yards out and my ball plopped neatly in the middle of the drink, out of club reach. None of our group had a ball retriever—a mistake I’ve never made since—so I immediately called back to the clubhouse to see if one of the guys could drive a retriever out before my eight-minute time window was up and my ball disappeared. I could see it glowing there in the water, taunting me. It winked out just before the retriever arrived, and I was down to two balls.

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Because it was dark, the whole thing felt exotic and a little bit verboten. Laughter seemed to carry farther as we watched other pods of neon move on the holes around us. None of us could get over how much BETTER we could find our ball than we could during a daytime round.

Even the drink cart guy got in on the action, loading up the ice with glow sticks and lights that flashed as he poured cocktails. “So what do you think?” I asked our non-golfing buddies. “This is actually way better than I thought it would be. Maybe I’ll come play with you and Ellie sometime,” answered one. Gotcha! When we walked off the last hole we were supposed to head to the patio for dinner…but none of us seemed ready to let go of what had been a killer time. “Maybe we could go again?” Ellie’s husband suggested. “I’m in.” “Yep, let’s do it.” Everyone was on board—even the formerly reluctant spouses. We put off dinner and played through the whole shebang again, still revelling in the novelty. Finally around 10:30 we decided to call it a night and headed back to eat.

Ellie couldn’t go five feet without being stopped and congratulated on the event; apparently we weren’t the only ones who like to occasionally mix it up and play outside the box. “We should definitely do this again next year,” I remarked, since the season was winding down and we wouldn’t have time to plan another before it got too cold. “Maybe,” replied Ellie, her eyes twinkling. “Let’s see what else we can come up with by then.” Game on.


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