For golfers throughout the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and around the world, the realities of playing the sport have always been universal and understood—when the sun goes down, your day on the course or driving range is done.
That’s because a growing number of clubs are having lights installed on parts of their courses, as well as at their driving ranges, as a way to extend opportunities beyond daylight hours and offer a new, unique experience to members and tourists.
One such organisation is Trump International Golf Club in Dubai, which recently opted to install lighting on its driving range. The benefits for clubs are impossible to ignore – notably greater flexibility for members and a more appealing proposition for visitors.
But lighting solutions for golf clubs come with myriad challenges – primarily how to have the system installed without damaging any of the turf. One of the other key considerations at Trump International was how to keep from spilling light at the driving range onto the villas surrounding the facility.
Sharpen up your short game til 9pm at our state-of-the-art practice facility ⛳ pic.twitter.com/nuF0fldKVQ
— Trump Dubai (@TrumpGolfDubai) July 4, 2018
The emergence of LED sports lighting has created new possibilities for lighting at golf courses in terms of light quality, uniformity, and eliminating the glare and spill that may have previously doomed projects like Trump International because of the negative impact on the surrounding environment.
Trump International and project leaders Akoya Oxygen conducted exhaustive research on LED manufacturers before ultimately choosing U.S.-based Musco Lighting, a company with a track record for developing successful lighting solutions at sports stadiums and facilities in the UAE and beyond.
Musco is able to boast a number of world-class golf courses and driving ranges in its lighting portfolio, including the Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami, Florida.
“There’s a kind of a myth out there about LED sports lighting, that as long as you have LED lights you’ll automatically get the same superior results. But that’s not the case at all,” Brett Paulsen, General Manager at Musco, tells Sport Industry Insider.
“To take advantage of LED you need to have a deep understanding and knowledge of how to control and apply light effectively in a sports setting. That’s especially true at golf courses.”
The benefits for clubs that have successfully integrated lighting have been numerous, and impressive. Night golf creates exciting new opportunities for tourists and residents alike who have never had the opportunity to play on a floodlit course. It has certainly proven popular at the likes of Yas Links Golf Club, Abu Dhabi Golf Club and the Faldo Course at Emirates Golf Club, presenting a valuable extra revenue steam for these facilities.
Clubs can expand the number of events and outings they host, both golf and non-golf. During the summer, playing at night offers a welcome reprieve from the heat of the day. And in the winter months it opens up more opportunities during the work week for those looking to play.
“With sunset earlier than 6 p.m. for several months, a quick few holes in the evening is not possible, so the option of playing a full nine holes without having to rush from the office makes a lot of sense,” said Howie Roberts, General Manager at Yas Links, which also features Musco’s lighting.
Ed Edwards, Group General Manager at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, another of Musco’s clients, echoes that sentiment.
“Having a golf course with floodlights allows us to extend our golf operating hours beyond sunset. This has obvious financial benefits to the club,” Edwards says.
“To take advantage of LED you need to have a deep understanding and knowledge of how to control and apply light effectively in a sports setting.”
“The extra floodlit nine holes also allows us to play different rotations utilizing the two nine holes on the National course. For example, you can tee off at 4:40 p.m. and using the night golf as our back nine, can still complete 18 holes.”
Additional financial benefits of lighted courses and driving ranges include increased membership fees, more tee times allowing golfers to tee off as late as 9 p.m., and longer hours of operation for the clubhouse restaurants and bars.
More than anything, night golf provides more opportunities for club members and tourists to enjoy the game they love in a new and unique way.
“When you consider the new opportunities that lighted courses and driving ranges open up, I think you’re going to see more and more clubs throughout the UAE and around the world make the transition,” Musco chief Paulsen reflects.
“This is going to bring a new level of excitement and fun to golfers, as well as a nice financial impact to the clubs. At Musco we’re really proud to have partnered with such renowned organizations, and to know that our LED technology is helping make this happen.”