By Jason Wilson
While attitudes about marijuana are shifting as more and more states recognize its myriad benefits, there are still plenty of obstacles for tokers—particularly those who wish to consume cannabis while on the golf course. While alcohol is popular and widely imbibed when golfing, cannabis has yet to be accepted by the sport. In fact, enemies of pot inhabit the links all around the country. From antiquated clubhouse rules to overzealous prohibitionists, there’s a lot to consider before teeing off high. If you’d like to play a more elevated game without ruffling any polo shirts in the process, here’s what you need to know.
Knowing how you respond to the psychoactive compounds in marijuana is critical to having a good time when the round comes. New or casual consumers overdoing it with a heavy dose could be in for an incredibly unpleasant ordeal. The most common effects from over-consumption are confusion, paranoia, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and difficulty with motor control. Add in an obligation to hit a tiny ball in a specific direction for a specific distance within a reasonable amount of time, and you have a near-impossible task. Figuring out a dosage and method of ingestion that works for you, prior to the round, will help you stay cool at the tee box.
Forms of Ingestion
The least-detectable and longest-lasting form of marijuana ingestion also carries the most risk for adverse effects. You don’t need to look too long on the internet to find edibles-misadventure stories ranging from heavy couchlock to time/space distortions for hours at a time. Many of these tales begin with cookies or brownies made by some generous friend or some misconception about how much of a store-bought 100-milligram candy or chocolate to eat. The rule is to allow time for the compounds to enter your bloodstream so you can feel the full effect, which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours and can last for more than five hours.
How to golf on edibles: Know your dosage and consume the treat about 30 minutes before your tee time. This will allow you to get saddled up at the pro shop and two or three holes out before the full effects are felt, which, with the right dosage, will be gradual, enjoyable and just about over by the time you reach the 19th hole. Have something in your stomach prior to eating the edible to lengthen and soften the high.
Pros: Undetectable, long-lasting.
Cons: Care needed when dosing, difficult to adjust dose mid-round.
Vape pens are another hard-to-detect method that carry the added benefit of allowing the user to regulate their dose while playing. Vaping is convenient, portable and stealthy (most pens are generally indistinguishable from nicotine vaporizers). Regulation is key and, unlike with edibles, entirely possible during play. If too much concentrate is consumed and the user starts to feel too stoned, they can simply sit out a hole or two to “respond to a work email” or “deal with some family stuff” while the high dissipates. The biggest drawback to vapes is the price. A quality vape pen typically costs over $100, and the cartridges are extra (and hard to come by in illegal states). But if you have the option and don’t mind spending the extra cash, this is the way to go for a convenient and carefree under-the-influence golfing experience.
How to golf with vape pens: Charge the device, fill the unit and consume at your leisure.
Pros: Hard to detect, allows for regulating dosage.
Cons: Price, availability.
The most common and celebrated form of marijuana consumption is also the most restrictive, wasteful and time-consuming use of the plant on the golf course.
Even to the uninitiated, a burning joint or blunt has a distinct smell that is easily identifiable and, depending on what kind of people you’re paired with or playing near, might be a source of contention, particularly if you’re in a state with criminal repercussions for possession and/or public consumption.
The most damning argument against combustion on the course, though, is wind. Depending on the quality of your roll, there’s a chance that a blunt lit at the tee box will be half gone by the time you get to the fairway, with only a quarter of its smoke passing through your lungs. Even on windless days, a moving cart will eat a fatty, and soon you’re left with a nub you can’t remember spending enough time with. Additionally, rain and course sprinklers are problematic. After all, a water-dampened doob will take a few hours to dry out and be useless for the remainder of the round.
Lastly, combustion takes some time to get going and to stamp out neatly. When it’s your turn to swing and you have to select a club, find and put on the glove, and choose direction and shot shape, that loss of time can lead to rushing, which is no help to either your high or your game.
While there’s a lot working against recommending combustion, it would be irresponsible to ignore its draw. For many, there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as smoking a joint!
How to golf with combustion: Don’t use pipes, bowls or bongs. Nothing gives you away faster than brightly colored ceramic under an overturned fist thumbing at the sparkwheel. The one exception to this rule is the one-hitter/dugout combo. With a combination of stealth and speed of use, the one-hitter has an edge over its counterparts in public consumption. If you’re determined to use a bong on the links, do so when you have the place to yourself.
Try to manage time, as some moments are better to spark up in than others. For instance, after hitting your ball and putting it in good position, you’ll likely have a chance to toke. Your group will have to hit, find their balls and hit the second shot before you, leaving several minutes for some puffing. Remember to look for moments in which indulging won’t slow play.
Protect the smokables from water. Until it’s time to light one up, keep the joint or blunt in a waterproof package. Sandwich baggies work well in a pinch, but for fuller protection, plastic snap-lid containers are ideal.
Play with a group of friends for a stress-free round. Like-minded, pot-friendly buddies not only make the experience fuller and more enjoyable, but they’ll also watch your back.
Manage the burn of your smokes. A good rule to follow is that if it’s lit, it’s being smoked. I have a tendency to let a burning joint or blunt sit between my fingers while I take my time with it, but doing so on the course is extra wasteful. If it’s lit, it should be getting smoked. If you want a break from it, put it out neatly.
Observe the wind. If in close proximity to unfamiliar players, lighting up is still a possibility. All that’s required is self-awareness. Feel the wind direction, position yourself downwind from the players and light up while staying vigilant for changing wind direction. People are generally focused on other things during a round and, unless you draw attention to yourself, will likely ignore whatever it is you’re doing in their periphery.
Pros: Cheap, cool, effective.
Cons: Smokes itself, easily detectable, damaged by wetness.
Smoking With Strangers
Although golfing high with friends is great, sometimes the lone wolf in us wants that solitary experience. You look for tee-time vacancies on the course’s webpage, call the pro shop to confirm a start at a slow time and arrive to a nearly empty parking lot with a smile on your face and weed in your bag. You walk in, pay, grab your starter ticket and turn to leave only to hear, “By the way, you’ll be playing with [some square who is also pissed about having to play with somebody else].”
“I’d rather play by myself,” you protest.
“Sorry,” says the clerk. “Two asses in every cart.” His off-color candor doesn’t lighten the reality of your crumbling plan. He puts a radio to his mouth and lets the starter know someone is on the way. The guy you’re paired with is 80. He’s got a military insignia on his hat, a blue-line flag on his shirt and dark shades.
“You like taking your time,” he says without turning toward you. “Typical.”
“Nice to meet you too,” you say reflexively as he slams on the gas before you can fully sit down. Your afternoon of ease and elevation has become a generational pissing match, and you’re filled with regret. But you know what? You’re a goddamn trooper. You’re not going to let some old codger ruin your day in the sun. You’re going to smoke that weed in your bag, and you’re going to get away with it. Here’s how.
Keep smokes hidden but accessible. While the pack holding the supply of good stuff should be kept in your bag, the blunt you’re smoking should be on you—unseen but easy to retrieve. You want immediate access when an opportunity presents itself. Pockets are not ideal unless you have a plastic snap-lid container to protect them from crumbling. My preference is to keep my smoke wedged between my hat and ear. Another possibility is in your sock if you’re rocking shin-climbers. Feel free to get creative here.
Walk out to your ball. Insist on your partner pulling up to their ball while you walk out to yours. Not only will this satisfy any need for one-upmanship they might possess, it will also give you plenty of time and distance to spend with your smokes. Stay aware of where they’re at and, when you hear the cart approaching, tap out your smoke and put it back in its hiding spot. Much of this technique depends on ball placement off the tee, but it can be modified to fit the situation. If your partner outdrives you, hit your second shot, grab the club for your third and say you’ll walk up as they’re hitting their second. If you outdrive them, grab your club for the next shot and walk out if the difference in distance isn’t too great. If you hit a bad shot that would require some looking through rough, great! Grab a few clubs from your bag that might be useful, insist that they go hit their shot and light it up when they drive away.
Greens get it done. When it’s time to chip and putt, players generally have a fair amount of space between them. Take your time assessing the lie, scrutinize the hills and valleys of the putting surface, take some deliberate and thoughtful practice swings, and puff that spliff the entire time. If your partner is trying to rush you, ignore them. Assessing the shot is vital to hitting a good one, ultimately taking less time.
For those in the know, golf and marijuana are a mighty duo. Independently, they relax, comfort and remind us there’s more to life than what occupies our day-to-day experience. Together, they can make an already enjoyable experience an absolute escape and pleasure, if done with care and consideration. Take these tips and swing away.
Originally published in the October, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.