Guilt-Free Golf — Squeeze in a round of golf without slicing into family time

June 2012 View more

NMAG0612_Feature_SmallWhen it comes to a potential Father’s Day gift, nothing says “classic” quite like something from the golfing universe—a shiny new club, a must-have gadget, another box of high-end balls. However, if you were to survey an assortment of golf-enthusiast dads—particularly those with full-time jobs and young families—you would likely find that the general ratio of accumulated golf stuff to actual rounds played would come down very heavily on the side of the former.

Most dads probably have more new golf balls than they could ever hope to lose over the course of several seasons. Why? Because when people know that a dad likes golf but don’t realize how infrequently he actually gets to play, the result is a lot of gifted balls with not enough time to properly dispose of them in various wooded areas or ponds. The same thing goes for clubs and gadgets—most fathers probably don’t need more stuff, they just need more time to make use of the stuff they already have.

It’s an age-old conundrum—fantastic courses, amazing new products, and wonderful weather. How is dad supposed to fit a handful of often-lengthy rounds of golf onto an already packed summer itinerary without slipping into “absentee father” territory? What’s the secret to enjoying a little golf without a lot of guilt? Here are some possible strategies.

Go Half Way

Somewhere in one of those quaint little books on the history of the game, there is undoubtedly a reasonable explanation for why 18 holes came to be commonly known as a “round of golf.” Nowhere, however, will there be a reasonable explanation of why it should take close to five hours to play that round. Quite simply, it’s not reasonable. What was once a potentially pleasant sub-four-hour weekend experience has become hopelessly bloated and weighed down by a combination of overcrowded tracts, inattentive management and the slow erosion of one of the game’s defining features—etiquette.

As much as the notion of a “round” has come to be defined by both a front and back nine—and as much as the average golfer has come to appreciate the possibility of reclaiming a disastrous front nine with a miraculously redemptive second half—perhaps it’s time to regain some sanity by simply playing nine and calling it a day. It may feel somehow incomplete at first, but most golfers will eventually come to enjoy not being on the course for both the sun’s rising and setting, all within the same round.

Go Early

A surefire way to test one’s dedication to any activity is to gauge one’s feelings when the alarm clock goes off. In other words, many golfers would have their love of the game severely tested by the notion of trying to be on the first tee box before sunup.

However, with its often unbearable crowds, jacked-up greens fees and lack of prime tee time availability, weekend golf has become something of a cruel insult to the working man, and setting that alarm to beat the madness is one small way to fight back. While the lack of sleep may take some getting used to, many of the positives will soon be apparent— more comfortable temperatures, more reasonable parking, fewer huddled and chattering masses around the claustrophobic first tee. Best of all, the wide-open course and relative calm will offer a quick reminder that there’s more to the game than hoping the guy in the painfully slow foursome ahead of you will just give up his hunt and take a drop.

All that, and you’ll probably be back in time for waffles with the kids.

Go Late

Another potential remedy for the scourge of weekend golf is to leave the weekend behind altogether and take advantage of Mother Nature’s extended summer hours with a weekday twilight round. Certainly the twilight concept is nothing new—courses have been adjusting their prices and keeping a few staffers on duty into the night for awhile. However, it’s easy for golfers to get locked into a thought pattern that brands the game exclusively a weekend pursuit.

Lower prices, smaller crowds, and more free time on the weekends—if the only drawback is the possibility of missing out on those last few holes before the darkness sets in, it feels like a minor quibble.

Go Local

A long drive is a worthwhile goal for any golfer, but it shouldn’t be an added annoyance before you even reach the course. After all, there are many opportunities to complain about the traffic in and around Naperville, but it would be pretty hard to get your dander up over the availability of quality golf in the immediate area.

So don’t spend precious weekend hours en route—compress the length of the day or just get in a little extra time on the practice range by keeping that round close to home (see sidebar).

Go Together

A round of golf may be dad’s way of “getting away from it all” for a few hours, but if the choice is between time spent golfing and time spent with the family, maybe the best choice is to make it a family outing instead.

True, a full 18-hole round at full weekend prices might be a bit ambitious depending on the ages and skill levels of the kids—not to mention a major point of contention for those groups following a few wandering youngsters on the course. However, there’s always a compromise available—from a simple trip to the driving-range to a ride-along or walk-along for nine holes as course rules allow—to mix kids and birdies and help dad get his golf without the guilt.

Local, Not Loco

Save your long drives for the course, not the commute. Consider a round at one of these Naperville area public courses.


Country Lakes Country Club
1601 Fairway Drive

Arrowhead Golf Club
26W151 Butterfield Road, Wheaton


Springbrook Golf Course
2230 83rd Street

Naperbrook Golf Course
22204 Hassert Boulevard, Plainfield

Tamarack Golf Club
24032 Royal Worlington Drive