Golf is a sport (or game depending on who you ask) that can be played life long, by men, women, and children of most ages. It’s versatile, with about 27 million players annually. The latest debate has some folks wondering if golf is genuinely a sport or whether it’s just a game.
Understanding both sides of the argument can help you make your own opinion on the matter. There may be some things you didn’t know about golf that may influence you one way or the other, so read on folks. We’ve got all the facts lined up for you here!
If you’re new to golf, it may seem like a challenging game to master, there are scores to keep track of, rules to be aware of, and a flurry of specific words used. It can seem like keeping up with golf requires the knowledge of the foreign language.
In the shortest description possible, golf is played (by golfers) who are competing at hitting balls precisely to a specific number of holes, using different types of clubs. Golf is played on a “golf course” that consists of a diverse mix of fairways, roughs, greens, and hazards.
Ultimately, players are attempting to hit the ball into each hole, with the fewest number of “strokes” (read: hits). Golf can be played as stroke play or match play, meaning the scores are counted either as the lowest number of strokes played by an individual or by the lowest quantity of strokes achieved on the most individual holes completed by a team or individual.
Now that you know the basics of golf let’s dive into what makes golf a game and what makes it a sport.
Top 4 Reasons Golf Is A Sport
If you’re on the golf is a sport side of the fence, you’ll likely agree with these sides of the argument, but it doesn’t mean the other hand is entirely wrong. However, you don’t have to take our word for it, here are seven golfers who train hard in the gym to be the best at what they do.
Golfers Do Have To Train
While it’s true that you’ve probably seen plenty of golfers who are out of shape, (your grandfather, anyone?) there are plenty of professional golfers who do submit to a training regimen.
We’re not just talking about those guys competing in the long drive competitions; we’re talking your pro tournament players. Some of them are in better shape than some serious professional sports players.
It Takes More Skill Than You Think
When you think about sports, you easily overlook just how hard it is to do something, even one small part of the game. Whether that’s catching a football thrown across the field with multiple players coming at you, shooting a basketball from the 3-point area, or driving a golf ball 350 + yards across a fairway onto the green.
Mistakes in other sports can cost you points certainly, but an error in golf can cost you dearly. You see, when you make a mistake, you take an immediate penalty as well as counted against it when the total scoring of the game takes place.
If you consider baseball as an example, a golfer must hit a small white ball approximately three times the length of a baseball field from home plate to the wall in center field, and get it to within 10-20 feet of the actual hole. More than 10 feet away is usually a disappointing stroke.
The Mental Aspect
In many team sports, you can be carried, mentally, by your teammates. That’s not to say other sports players don’t have to have their head in the game, that’s not true at all. Each sport requires focus and mental agility that’s probably unequivocal to anything the rest of us could conjure up.
However, in golf, players must have an absolute laser focus, a quiet mind, and an uncanny ability to control their reactions. Have you ever been in a bad mood all day and it suddenly has a trickle-down effect, making each activity or event progressively worse?
That’s because of your reaction, and the way you were dealing with each event was manifesting negatively. In golf, the mind must be controlled to produce positive results consistently. One lousy stroke can ruin a game if the player lets it.
Hey Now, There’s A Lot Of Walking
Tons of people harp on golfers because it’s a “walking” sport. The golfers “just” have to hit a ball and then walk to the next hole, right? Well, when you put it in those terms, it’s easy to think they aren’t doing much.
Golfers are actually walking about 6 miles per round though. But they can drive a cart. Wrong. In many of the professional and upper-level amateur events, golfers are typically required to walk the course.
Golfers typically play in good weather, but there are plenty of times where the weather isn’t great, or the terrain is rough. A golfer must be able to keep up with fatigue, so it doesn’t affect his or her shots. Not as easy as you or I would have thought.
Top 4 Reasons Golf Is A Game
Okay, okay, we know why golfers may want to consider themselves to be a sports player, but there are several reasons many athletes think the title should be on reserve for those who take part in “real” sports.
A Golfer Doesn’t Have To Be An Athlete.
Are there golfers who are in peak conditioning shape? Absolutely. But, as a general rule of golf, golfers don’t have to be athletes to play. Athletes usually work hard to maintain their athleticism, stamina, and strength.
You can take one look at any pro golfing tournament and realize that that’s not the standard for golfers. In most sports, athletes spend a good deal of their time “on the job” training and conditioning for the game they play.
There are tons of golfers who are out of shape, drink a ton, and even smoke along the way during a match. You’d be hard-pressed to catch an athlete playing other sports in the same condition.
Just Because There’s A Score, Doesn’t Mean It’s A Sport.
Well, it’s true that multiple players are competing against one another, though it’s more indirectly. They’re just playing the game solo, and seeing who gets the better score.
People who believe that golf isn’t a sport just because scores are kept and tallied throughout the game. The argument is that score is held in many games that aren’t considered a sport like a poker and spelling bees. These games call for skill, competition, and scores but, that doesn’t in itself, qualify them as a sport.
Skill Doesn’t Equate To Sport.
Just like we mentioned above, some people believe that individual, sports-like characteristics, don’t qualify the game as a sport. There’s no doubt that golfers acquire a specific skill set and achieve an ability to play the game much better than the general public does, they certainly have to, to play competitively.
The fact is, just because they took the time to be good enough to compete, doesn’t mean they’re playing a sport. There are tons of people who are great at a great many things, things they can compete in, things that they’ve achieved being much better at than the rest of the population, but it doesn’t mean their task is now a sport.
After all, people who perform neurosurgery aren’t sports players, and neither are chess players. We won’t call out video game players right now, because that’s a debate for another day!
The Definition Of A “Game”
All right, since it’s such a hot debate, we’re going to let it boil down to the definition of a sport and the definition of a game. In all fair comparisons, golf more closely aligns with the definition of a game, here’s why.
A sport is defined as “a physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively” and “an activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.”
A game, on the other hand, is defined as, “ An activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime, “ and further “an amusement or pastime; a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.”
You see, calling golf a game rather than a sport is not undermining or cutting into the admiration or dedication of its players in any way. It’s just a preference for referring to it as what it’s more closely related to, definition-wise.
Well, guys. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably made your own opinion by now. Is golf a game or a sport? Some people are always going to disagree, but whether you believe golf is a game or a sport, it is up to you. We can’t deny that golfers have the precision, skill, at least some degree of athleticism, and a way better ability to play golf than we do!