Golf Music: Is it Legal to Play Golf with Music within the USGA Rules?

Golf Music: Is it Legal to Play Golf with Music within the USGA Rules?

If you are a person who hates hearing music on the golf course, you are going to be unhappy to learn that listening to music while golfing is not against the rules. I can feel your pain when the group behind you pulls up to the green near your tee box and you can hear their music.

I recently played golf with a guy who was listening to acoustic Spanish guitar the entire round. I actually enjoyed it for the first couple of holes but as the day wore on I was thinking… Dude, can you switch it up?

It turns out it is NOT illegal to listen to music while playing golf according to the USGA Rules and Interpretations. However, there are some stipulations you must follow.

Rule 4.3.a.4 on Audio and Video states the following about allowed and not allowed music:


Listening to audio or watching video on matters unrelated to the competition being played (such as a news report or background music).

But in doing so, consideration should be shown to others (see Rule 1.2).

Not Allowed.

Listening to music or other audio to eliminate distractions or to help with swing tempo, or

Viewing video showing play of the player or other players during the competition that helps the player in choosing a club, making a stroke, or deciding how to play during the round.

What I find most interesting about the “not allowed” section is the term “eliminate distractions”. If you ask a golfer why they listen to music while playing, they often say something to the tune of “I like music because it keeps me relaxed”.

To me, “keeps me relaxed” is the same thing as saying “it eliminates distractions”. By focusing on the music before swinging, you are essentially using the music to eliminate any distracting thoughts you might otherwise have.

I know you’re thinking that Golf BPM music is illegal, and you are 100% right about that. Any device or sound that helps with your tempo and timing is illegal.

Our golf music was created to use while practicing or driving to the course before you play golf. Although you can use it on the course, it is best for practicing. There is no doubt that music with distinct tones of when to make your swing points is illegal while playing.

In fact, most high school and college coaches will not allow their players to listen to music during practice rounds.

Why? When we were developing Golf BPM Music one coach told us: “I was watching one of my players play and I noticed that he was walking faster halfway down the fairway. The first 100 yards he was moving at a normal pace. Then he started walking taller, faster and was tapping his hand on his leg at the pace of the music he was listening to.”

If the goal is to get players to be even-keeled in their pace, breathing and thoughts throughout a round, then music is detrimental towards this goal. And that is the problem with just listening to music randomly while playing. Every song is at a completely different speed and generates an emotional reaction.

What about those running stations on Spotify?

Did you know there are stations on Spotify that are for runners where the songs are all at a specific BPM’s (beats per minute). For example, there are playlist where every song is at 120 BPM’s. Runners use this to keep the same pace throughout their run. Every song sounds different but there are no highs or lows… just the same BPM’s to keep you on an even pace.

I’ll let the USGA weigh in on if having a playlist with the same BPM’s for golf is illegal. But in my opinion, it would be 100% against the rules.

But according to the rules, listening to audio or background music is within the rules. This is by no means the end of the debate. There are just as many golfers who hate hearing music on the course as there are those who love it.

It doesn’t matter if your young, old, good or bad… I’ve seen the music debate cross all demographics from age to ability. When it comes to the USGA rules on music, your opinion doesn’t matter. For now, its legal, but please be respectful.

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