Lighting Up Your Outdoor Fun & Games

The popularity of outdoor game areas has expanded our “living” areas. Social media and television have created awareness of many design ideas. Lighting up these outdoor areas doubles their usefulness and your fun! Some of the many outdoor game areas include putting greens, bocce ball courts and horseshoe pits. Help your clients see the benefit of lighting up these areas and enhancing their usability; there is no need to stop play time when the sun goes down!  Outdoor game areas should become part of the landscape lighting system. When illuminating these areas, it is important to remember that this is task lighting. The objective is to eliminate shadows from the game area.


Putting greens can be designed in many shapes and sizes. They are often curved and have slight elevation changes built into them. The average residential putting green has 3-5 holes. One technique to consider when illuminating these areas is the use of a taller shielded fixture. These fixtures are normally 24 to 36 inches tall with an adjustable bullet or flood at the top.   Allow for soft floods to provide illumination around the skirt and on to the surface of the green. If it is possible, mount some narrow spot lights to a tree or pole. Direct the narrow beam directly on to the cup hole. If this higher mounting point is not available, several manufacturers have designed putting cup fixtures that can illuminate the holes.  


 Bocce is traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts. The courts range from 70-90 ft in length and 8 - 13 ft wide. Many courts have a wood or concrete border around them. To effectively illuminate a framed bocce court, I suggest you start by coring out 4 to 5” holes every 8-13 feet. Begin these at 4-6.5 feet in on opposite sides. This will provide for a triangular illumination pattern. Install MR16 well lights with metal grates, lying on their side facing toward the opposite side of the court. Use a 50w or equivalent LED 30-degree beam angle lamp for the light source.  Install a linear spread lens to create a horizontal beam.  This system works best with a separate transformer equipped with a dimmer.


Horseshoe pits have been a staple of family fun for over 200 years. It is not uncommon to see these pits illuminated with a tall gooseneck fixture with a warehouse shade. This allows the entire pit to be down lit. The shade of the fixture is tall enough to avoid being struck by a thrown horseshoe. Many horseshoe pits are constructed with a wooden back board. If there is a flat topper on the backboard, a hardscape ledge light can be installed. This will provide illumination on the backstop and allow the pin to be in silhouette. 


With summer just around the corner, start offering these creative lighting ideas to your customers today! Outdoor living does not need to be restricted to daylight hours only. Have fun with these ideas and others!

Kevin SmithComment