Golf can be an incredibly frustrating game that can turn even the calmest and stress-free of people into frustrated and angry nervous wrecks.
This article aims to remind everyone, myself included, just why golf is such a special game, and why we should exhibit more appreciation for a game that has so many benefits compared to other sports. The crossover to everyday life that golf offers is unparalleled; although tennis is another sport that comes close, but ultimately, golf stands alone.
It’s quite frankly a privilege to be lucky enough to spend time with friends and family walking amidst mother nature, all while teaching us valuable life lessons in etiquette, responsibility, discipline, honesty and integrity.
But even despite these wonderful benefits that golf affords us, many of us still get caught up in the minutia of the game and find ourselves in a negative spiral. Bad shots, unrealistic expectations, and unruly playing partners can all lead to having a terrible day on the links; if you let it.
So I hope that you’ve been served a little reminder by the end of the article, a little kick up the bum, so to speak. Golf is a joyous game that we can enjoy with friends, grow as people, have fun and get fit while doing it.
Golf The Bridge To Years Past
How often have you turned up to your local public golf course on a Saturday morning and been paired with people you have absolutely nothing in common? More often than not, right?
The vast majority of the time, you’ll be paired with partners 20-30-40 years your senior, partners of the opposite sex, or even partners playing their first rounds. But there is one thing you have in common with every person you tee it up with it; You both love the game, and you’re both on a mission to be the best golfer you can be.
As soon as you step on the 1st tee, something happens; it’s that magical human feeling I love about golf. We all smile, greet each other, shake hands, introduce ourselves, and exchange pleasantries. I love it.
In a time period where most people have their eyes glued to their phones, suddenly they’re fixed on you. It’s the way it used to be; playing golf is almost like traveling back in time; an escape from the hectic results orientated world we live in.
I must admit I’ve been an avid road cyclist too since childhood, and cycling is the only other sport I know where there’s a distinctive camaraderie shared between all. It makes you feel special, like you’re part of a small elite group that all appreciate the wonders and blunders that make the sport so unique.
Golf brings everyone together, and once you stand on the 1st tee, you’re all playing on an equal battleground; everyone trying to beat their best score, not each other. That’s the beauty of golf; it’s a game you can play on your own or in a group; it doesn’t matter; you’re playing against yourself and the course, not your partners.
Next time you feel frustrated, take a look at the beautiful surroundings and remind yourself of exactly why you’re playing this wonderful game.
A Chance To Meet New People
Golf is a social game and is an excellent way for you to make new friends and meet new acquaintances.
I often call ahead to the pro shop and let them know that I’m coming down later to play a round, and if anyone is looking for a partner, I would be more than happy to join a group. It keeps the game exciting, and you never know who you might meet.
When I was coaching a few years back, I met a gentleman on the first tee, and we played a round together. I was talking to him about a talented professional female athlete I was coaching, but her family didn’t have the money to fund her. I continued playing with this gentleman over the next month or so.
Then out of the blue, he invited me to lunch one day. He turned out to be the owner of a seafood company with an annual turnover of $175 million. He offered to fully sponsor the young female pro and did so for the next four years.
I also met one of my best friends at the golf club after he accidentally ran me over in the golf cart; it sounds worse than it actually was; although I did have a pretty swollen ankle for a few days.
He was an economist, held a Ph.D., and was one of the smartest and funniest guys I ever knew. We met twenty-four years ago, and we were great friends until his tragic passing a few years back.
The Stats Are In
The game of golf has seen tremendous growth over the past two decades. Superstar players like Tiger Woods, high-profile sponsors, and companies like Rolex, Callaway, Nike, and America Express have all helped fuel the popularity of the game.
According to the National Golf Foundation, more than 108 million Americans either watched, read, or played golf in 2019. A staggering 34 million Americans aged over 6+ actually teed it up on the driving range or took to the links. Perhaps the most impressive stat of all is that the game has seen six consecutive years with more than two million beginners joining annually.(1)
The 18-34-year-old category is the game’s most popular and saw 10 million players take to the links, with this number staying steady over the past five to six years. A positive figure for the game’s future was 2.5 million juniors playing golf during 2019. Compared to 2000, junior girls made up just 15% of the total compared to 2019, when the figure spiked to 36%.
Non-caucasian juniors make up 25% of the total, which is a promising number considering that the figure was only 6% just twenty years ago. 5.6 million female golfers also teed it up, with this number remaining steady over the last half-decade.
Golfers played an average of 18.2 rounds in 2019 and a total of 441 million for the year. This figure was up slightly from 2018, in which 434 million rounds of golf were played. The increase was likely due to better weather conditions compared to 2018. 16,300 golf courses and 14,300 golf facilities were open, with 73% of courses in the US now open to the public.
And finally, since 2006, $3.75 billion has been invested in golf course renovations, redesign, and new construction.
The Overall Experience
To me, golf is much more than hitting a little white ball around. It’s the overall experience of being out in nature, walking the beautifully manicured fairways, hearing the birds chirp, and every now and then, the best sound of all; complete and utter silence; there’s no other sport like it.
Golf courses, clubs, and resorts are immaculate; the groundskeepers take pride in their lush gardens and meticulously raked white sand in the bunkers. The Clubhouses are superb, offering everything from shower rooms, gyms, and saunas to lovely eating areas for everyone to enjoy a drink or two.
Unlike other sports where you’re in and out in an hour or two, golf is a day-long experience, which attracts many people to the game. It’s not just the game itself; it’s everything that goes with it. Club memberships can offer access to dining rooms, tennis courts, swimming pools, meeting and conference rooms, and practice facilities.
Golf courses are an excellent place to enjoy time with family or friends or even meet with work colleagues or business partners. There aren’t many sports where you can stay fit while having fun and enjoying the sunshine; and to top it all off, a nice cold beer or glass of shiraz awaits in the clubhouse.
Don’t forget that you can also attend golf tournaments which is another fantastic way to enjoy the game. What better way to spend the weekend than watching the pros up close while enjoying a cold beverage with mates.
Golf The Sport For Everyone
How many sports do you know of where different ages, sexes, and abilities can all play together?
Unlike other sports where you need to be paired up with similar abilities or age groups, golf provides the opportunity for everyone to play the game. Golf doesn’t place a lot of demand on the body compared to other sports like tennis or basketball, which are taxing, and the chance of injury is greater.
Golf also doesn’t require you to be an incredible athlete, which is one of the primary reasons it’s so popular. Golf is perfect for seniors and kids. Most golf courses allow you to hire a golf cart which is great for seniors who may struggle to walk the entire 18 holes. Golf carts are also excellent for those strapped for time.
Golf offers the perfect way for families to spend some quality time together, and it’s an excellent introduction for the kids to learn some valuable lessons and, more importantly, get them away from the Nintendo Switch.
Just remember to focus on keeping it fun for the family; in my experience, the kids love the golf cart, and when no one is around, you can let them have a sneaky drive.
Golf, Stress, And Mental Toughness
Golf is one of the most challenging sports to master, and the skill required to play at the highest levels is unattainable for most people. But that doesn’t mean golf is not for you.
On the contrary, golf challenges you to master the physical and mental side of the game regardless of your handicap. Studies have even shown that playing a round of golf has significant positive effects on your mood and wellbeing.
In today’s fast-paced world, golf provides many people with an outlet and helps reduce stress and anxiety. Golf has been shown to boost self-esteem and even improve cognitive function.
Golf lets players focus on critical aspects of their game, one at a time. It’s almost therapeutic to work on your putting for hours on end; all your problems seem to vanish as you focus on your stroke with laser-like attention. Golf also builds character as you continually challenge yourself to improve weaknesses in your game.
Golf, as with life, is also constantly hurling obstacles in your way. Whether it’s a missed put or a wayward shot that has landed in the hazard, golf forces you to keep your cool, put it behind you, and focus on the task at hand.
The Perfect Chance To Network
Although golf is technically an “individual” sport, nothing could be further from the truth, and if you’re looking for a sport that’s done in an hour or two, golf is not for you.
Because golf can take anywhere from 3-to 5 hours to finish a round, it provides the ideal opportunity to network with business associates or for you to finalize that big deal you’ve been working on. Talking business out in the sunshine and enjoying a quiet drink or two is a much more appealing environment than sitting in a boring old boardroom.
Golf is a unique sport as it gives you the chance to spend uninterrupted time with important work colleagues, your boss, potential business partners, and even family.
Can you imagine the number of promotions and big-money deals that have been finalized on the 18th?
Golf And Fitness
When it comes to the physical side of golf, many people think it’s just a matter of hopping in and out of the golf cart for 18 holes, but truth be told, golf provides some excellent health benefits.
Take, for example, swinging the club: a tremendous amount of power, strength, balance, and stability are all required, and when you think you’re going to be playing 70 to 100 strokes, the demands on the body are taxing.
Another factor to consider is walking the course. The average golf course is over 7,000 meters, and depending on how straight you hit the ball, you could be walking close to 10km each round. Personally, I much prefer walking the course and being out in the midst of nature. It’s an excellent way to get fit and clear your mind at the same time. Walking is a great way to “slow down” and lets you disconnect from the troubles at work.
According to a study released by the PGA, professional golfers walk on average 319 miles or 513 km each season, which works out to be nearly 13 full marathons. Players and fans can also benefit, and figures from the study suggest that the average round requires between 7,000 – 10,000 steps. (2)
Fancy walking the course and carrying your clubs? You can burn 1,400 calories every round by doing so and then refuel with a nice club sandwich back in the clubhouse. Even if you take a cart, you can burn close to 800 calories by walking to and from the tee box and back and forth to your ball.
So there you have it; golf can be an incredibly frustrating game to play if you let it. Missed putts, out of bounds shots and endless bunker play is enough to do most people heads in.
Remind yourself of exactly why you enjoy golf in the first place. For most people, more often than not, it’s because they love being outside in the fresh air, the beautiful surroundings and enjoying the company of friends and family.
So next time you snap hook your tee shot straight into the water, take a deep breath, smile, and continue on your merry way; however, you still need to hit another drive!