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LED Lighting for Golf Courses and Driving Ranges

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LED Golf Course Lighting - LED Lighting for Driving Ranges

Discover how to save money with energy efficient lighting options for your golf course. High Power LED Options to light up fairways and driving ranges.

Proper golf course lighting is achieved with LED. Whether it's for a golf course or driving range lighting, LED offers reduced overhead costs and a better experience for the facilities golfers. Adding high power LED flood lights to driving range extends the operating hours and reduces lighting costs dramatically.

Golf Course and Driving Range Lighting

LED Golf Course Lighting

For golfers who like to play the game at night — or those who don't have time during the day — golf course lighting can make the difference between enjoying the game and being frustrated. Golf is a game of confidence, but it is hard to be confident when you're playing under very poor lighting.

This is where LED golf course lighting comes in. It not only reduces energy consumption by up to 80%, it is environmentally-friendly and virtually maintenance-free. LED lights are ideal for full 18-hole golf courses, mini golf courses, driving ranges, and even golf shops.

They ensure the properties are well illuminated at nighttime and come with IP ratings of 65 or higher in order to withstand elements such as water, ice, dust, heat, and corrosion.

LED Golf Course Lights Make Golfing At Night Possible

Nighttime golfing was once a rare thing. On moonlight evenings, golfing enthusiasts would play the game using glow-in-the-dark balls. However, this would involve a lot of eye straining as the lighting fixtures used in golf courses were not powerful. But led golf course lighting changed all that. Nighttime golfing is now a reality and those who love the game can play into the night. For golf course owners, this is a welcome change as the courses remain open long after the sun has set.

Golf is unlike other outdoor sports as it is not limited to a small playing area. A typical golf course covers 150 to 200 acres of playing space. Lighting a golf course is no small undertaking, which is why some golf course owners never bother to change the lighting. In addition, the installation and operation costs of golf course lighting have to be justified by golfers who take advantage of it.

High intensity discharge lights, which were the go-to lights for golf courses a few years ago, are expensive to maintain as they do not have long life spans and their light output significantly decreases according to the usage. Powerful LED golf course lighting has brought about a transformation and made nighttime golf possible and economical.

High-quality LED golf course lights produce sufficient amounts of light for nighttime golf and only use 30% (or less) of the energy traditional lighting systems consume. The good thing about LED luminaires is that they can be controlled and paired with intelligent systems that detect natural light and adjust the light according to the ambient light. This ensures less electricity is used and sufficient light is generated.

Furthermore, LED lights do not have a warm-up and cool-down time. They attain full illumination as soon as electricity is fed to them. High intensity discharge lights, such as metal halides and high pressure sodium lamps, have a warm-up and cool-down time and must be switched on before darkness sets in so that they can produce ample light by the time it's dark. With LED lighting, golf course managers can turn the lights on and off as needed, further decreasing energy consumption.

The prospect of nighttime golfing is appealing not only to golfers who are only able to play golf at night but also to those who prefer the cooler temperatures at night. A lot of golfers, especially those who live in the Southern parts of the U.S. which experience high temperatures during the summer months, prefer to play golf early in the day before the high temperatures make being outdoors uncomfortable.

Powerful LED golf course lighting allows golfers to play the game when temperatures are conducive. Golf GPS devices and rangefinders also work well under LED lighting. For golfers whose sight is a bit worse at night, bright LED golf course lights can help them to maintain their par — or even beat it.

While professional golf tournaments will still continue to be played during the day, well-illuminated golf courses will give golfers more alternatives for when they can play. Nighttime golf also enhances the appeal of the sport, given that there are many other sports to choose from.

LED Golf Course Lighting

Why LED Golf Course Lighting

Longer Life Span

Traditional lighting systems — such as metal halide and high intensity discharge lamps —are neither durable nor energy-efficient. And instead of converting all of the electricity they draw into light, they convert up to 75% of it into heat.

This means that golfers playing the game under traditional lighting sources may be uncomfortable because of the high amount of heat emitted by these lights. Light-emitting diodes are very energy-efficient as they convert most of the electricity they pull (up to 95%) into light. The high efficiency of LEDs is the main reason many golf courses are switching to this modern lighting technology.

Lower Lifetime Costs

The cost of running golf course lights is usually dependent on the size of the course and the level of competition. Recreational golf clubs with 18 holes require approximately 200 lux. If the golf course covers 5,000 square meters, 1 million lumens will be needed (5,000 x 200 lux). If you get LEDs that produce 140 watts, the energy required will be around 7,000 watts. This figure specifies the lowest theoretical power required.

The median electricity cost in the United States is $0.12 kW/h. If the golf course is open every night for 6 hours, the running costs will be 6 hours x 7,000 watts x $0.12/1,000. The daily running costs will be $5.04, the monthly running costs will be $150, while the yearly running cost will be $1,840.

However, if metal halide bulbs are used to light up the golf course, more power will be needed (3-5 times more). This means that the annual lighting costs will be approximately $5,520-$9,200. And while LED golf course lighting maybe expensive initially, it lasts longer and saves you money in the long run. In fact, the payback period for LED lighting is usually 2 years or less.

Lower Maintenance Costs for Golf Courses

Long Life Expectancy

The minimum life span of LED lights is 50,000 hours. If these lights are installed in a golf course and are only used for 6 hours a day, they can last for more than 20 years. Those with a rated life of 100,000 hours can last much longer. This is why LEDs are such a great investment, the bulbs are very cost-effective.

In addition, LED lights usually have the L70 rating, which means they retain 70% of their lumens for their entire life span. Traditional lighting technologies do not have long life spans and swiftly lose their lumens from the moment they are installed in a golf course.

By the time they get to half of their life span, they may generate 70% less visible light. The bad news is that even as the bulbs produce less light, they may continue to draw the same amount of energy they did when they were first installed, or even more.


LED lights produce light directionally, in 180°, unlike high intensity discharge lights which produce light in 360°. They do not lose a lot of lumens like HID lamps. Approximately half of the light produced by traditional lamps has to be reflected and redirected to the target area for illumination.

This process makes the output of omnidirectional lamps much less efficient because some light is lost during reflection and redirection. It also means that traditional light fixtures require more additional parts than LED lights, which makes the unit costs go high.

LED Optics Image

How to Create the Perfect Lighting Design for a Golf Course

Carry Out a Photometric Analysis

A photometric analysis is a great way to visualize a proposed lighting solution and the lumen output over a given area before purchasing LED luminaires. Lighting engineers use photometric software to input the design and adjust a property’s layout. They are able to add the luminaires, lighting poles, trees, buildings, cars, and other features that may affect the direction of the light or the property’s illumination.

After all the features are added, the photometric software then computes the lighting levels based on the data and gives a comprehensive layout. The results give foot candle measurements for different points across the property and also the average measurements for the entire property.

LED Photometrics

These measurements enable lighting specialists to make recommendations regarding the number of luminaires required and the specific types. They allow the specialists to create a good lighting design and not one based on guesswork. In case one layout does not work, the photometrics are modified and reevaluated.

This helps them to create the lighting solution before the luminaires are purchased, preventing the frustrations and the high costs associated with making changes in the field. With a photometric analysis, you can see the exact light your golf course will have prior to installation.

Consider Color Temperature

The Kelvin scale is used to measure the color temperature of lighting sources. The low end of the spectrum is red while the high end is blue. The color temperature of daylight at noon is 5600K. Light sources with color temperatures lower than this produce light that appears red, orange, or yellow. Those with color temperatures higher than this emit light that appears white or blue.

Color temperature can be used to create a specific mood in a golf course. Golf courses have different needs and the color temperature required usually depends on the level of play. For example, professional tournaments must have LED luminaires with a color temperature of 5000K. However, in a recreational driving range or a community golf club, both warm and white lights are used.

LED Color Temperature Guide for Golf Courses

Check the Spectrum

Some golf courses and driving ranges still use high intensity discharge lamps such as metal halide, high pressure sodium, mercury vapor, and halogen. But these lamps get extremely hot and have a high spectral bias in the infrared and ultraviolet ranges. These colors cannot be seen by the human eye, which means that even though the lamps may emit high levels of light, the visual experience will be limited.

The human eyes see only a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum (420nm to 750nm). The color of an object is usually dictated by the spectrum it reflects. For example, green grass reflects green light. In a golf course or a driving range, a white ball travels in a black night and falls on a green surface.

The proper lighting for illuminating the sport must create a high contrast between the dark environment and the white golf ball. It should also create a contrast between the ball and the grassy surface where it lands. Conventional lamps do not produce optimum results.

LED lights use a proprietary spectrum that highlights golf balls as they move or rest on the green landing surface. These lights have a very high color rendering index — above 80 — which means colors appear as they are and are easier to distinguish. This is a very important feature for attaining color contrast between a golf ball and the surrounding areas. LED lighting also makes range markers more visible and easy to identify.


Many golf course owners and managers struggle with this question "how bright should a golf course be?" For recreational and training driving ranges, the luxes at ground level should be 200-300. This allows both golfers and spectators to see the trajectory of the golf ball clearly. For professional golf courses that host international tournaments like the travelers Championship and the U.S. Open, the lighting levels can be as high as 800-1200 lux.

In any golf course or driving range, there are two types of illumination: vertical and horizontal. The vertical illumination is known as the vertical illuminance and represents the amount of light that gets to a vertical surface — such as the bodies of golfers. The horizontal illumination is referred to as horizontal illuminance and represents the amount of light which lands on a horizontal surface — such as a golf lawn.

The horizontal illuminance for the golf fairway must reach 80 to 100 lux while the vertical illuminance must reach 100 to 150 lux. The ratio of the highest horizontal illumination to the lowest horizontal illumination must not exceed 3:1.

Uniformity of Light

One of the most important features of LED golf course lighting is its ability to evenly distribute and diffuse light, resulting in high uniformity. High uniformity means that the overall brightness levels are the same.

LED golf course lights have diffusers that ensure they evenly distribute light and that there are no bright spots. Diffused light usually dissipates with distance to prevent light encroachment. The illumination reaches the end of the field but fades with distance, allowing the lights to meet Dark Sky regulations.

Golf balls travel fast, the average speed is 60-150 miles per hour, but it can be as high as 200 miles per hour. As the ball moves from the tee, it often goes beyond the illumination field as it gains altitude. This is usually the case if sky shields are used to prevent light from travelling upwards, the ball goes beyond the visual scope.

Sunlight is the best diffused light source, and cool LED lights are the closest to this light. They provide uniformity and have the added benefit of controlled dissipation. Diffused LED golf course lighting can be designed to illuminate within the property line. As the light moves away from the target area, it fades so as not to disturb neighboring properties.

Flicker-Free Lighting

One of the greatest challenges of lighting is mid-frequency flicker. In the United States, alternating current is used to power lighting. Traditional lighting flutters at the same regularity as the electric cycle. This equals to 60-120 cycles per second flicker.

With metal halides, the flickering can be accompanied by a slight vibration. The problem with flickering is that it stops the visual cognition of action. For example, a 60 cycle per second flicker can remove 0.73 feet of visual cognition from a golf ball travelling 30 miles per hour. This is equal to someone making a chip shot with a sand wedge.

Hitting a ball off the tee at 150 miles per hour can cause a loss of 3.6 feet of visual cognition per second. Cognition becomes more confusing as the golf ball slows down, because the brain must adjust itself for the changing strobe effect. This is the reason why it's so difficult to track the movement of a golf ball at night under conventional lighting.

The strobe effect caused by traditional lighting has been linked to mood swings, headaches, strobe epilepsy, seasonal affective disorder, and sleep disruption. These problems can be escalated by the intensity of exposure and the flicker rate and drop off. It is a serious deficiency in traditional lights because of the flicker's intensity.

LED Lights Used in Golf Courses, Driving Ranges and Mini-Golf Courses

LED for Miniature Golf Courses

LED spot-lights are used in miniature golf courses as they have a high luminous efficacy and are very reliable. For accuracy of illumination, the lights have optical lenses and different opening angles. In larger courses, the lights are paired with floodlights which provide good visibility over the entire golf course.

LED Lights for Nighttime Golf

Nighttime golf places very high demands on lighting as there must be enough light for adequate illumination. Golf differs from other sports played on fields as it is played on a much bigger field. High powered LED flood-lights are used to illuminate golf courses at night because they make golf balls as visible during the night as they are during the day.

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