Warm weather is golfing weather. For those course regulars, the prep is rote. Most golf courses have a standard dress code: slacks or long shorts, turtlenecks, collared shirts, and golf shoes. But what about a watch?
Watch lovers have to contend with this dilemma: Should you wear a watch while golfing? Opinions on the subject differ, the consensus being that it probably doesn’t hurt. Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson seem to think so. But is it worth risking damage on a $2,000, $5,000, or $10,000 watch, even if the odds are extremely low?
Factors to Consider
Most concern around wearing a watch while golfing centers around damage to either the watch itself or your game. For the watch, there’s risk of shock to the movement or loosening of parts. We’ve heard anecdotes of golfers who’ve come down from a swing to discover their watch hands rolling around inside the crystal. Not something you want to deal with.
You might also forgo your watch because of how it might negatively affect your swing. Heavier watches can feel awkward and throw off your follow-through if you’re not used to it. Or, if you wear your watch loose, it can move around too much and impact your swing that way.
What Not to Wear
The average male golfer swings a driver at a speed of around 90 mph. When the driver hits the golf ball off of the tee, it sends a shock up the shaft of the golf club to the golfer’s hand, and then to the watch. The forceful impact can cause the hairspring to jump and parts to become loose, leading to the sorts of malfunction that require a watchmaker to properly correct.
So while they may look nice, don’t wear a dress watch while golfing; its movement is more sensitive to impact than a sports watch. Following that same vein, wearing an 18k gold watch is not a great idea. Gold is soft, and on the green, there’s a good chance you could ding your watch and leave a dent. Also, avoid leather straps. Perspiration can ruin it over the course of a game.
Recommended Golfing Watches
Professional golfers don’t tend to wear watches during gameplay, with the exception of a few. While Phil Mickelson prefers a Cellini (for what reasons, we can’t say), Bubba Watson is known for his Richard Milles. Bubba Watson’s watches are specifically designed to be worn on the golf course. Super lightweight on the wrist, with a variable-inertia balance wheel that helps it withstand accelerations of over 500-G’s. Unfortunately, these watches are out of the everyday man’s price range–they retail in the high six figures.
Sportier dive watches like the Rolex Submariner are made to withstand intense underwater pressure. They should be able to handle the shock of a driver coming into contact with a golf ball.
If you’d rather keep a watch on your wrist during a round of golf, consider a quartz. Quartz watches are affordable, durable, and lightweight—a great option for golf. And even luxury brands are in on the quartz watch game. In 2005, TAG Heuer launched the first ever “professional golf watch” with a quartz movement, scratch resistant titanium case, and lightweight rubber strap. It even boasted Tiger Woods as an ambassador.
So can I wear a watch while golfing?
The answer is yes. The odds that your watch will be damaged from hitting golf balls is low, but there’s a small chance that deterioration can occur. So approach your wrist game with caution, and if your watch starts to lose time, it may be because you’re playing too much golf.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on April 20, 2015. We have updated it for clarity.