I think I’m addicted to golf. There are so many great aspects of the game and during my last time on the course, I got to thinking about exactly why I enjoy playing so much.
1. Every Hole/Course is Unique
In almost every other sport (or as golf is often categorized, leisure activity), the playing field has set dimensions. With the exception of a few minor changes, like the outfield walls of certain ballparks or the distance of a 3-pointer in college, the dimensions are consistent. The base paths are always 90 feet apart and a football field is always 100 yards long (unless you’re in Canada). In golf, not only are minor details different on a daily basis (pin and tee box placement), but there are no two unique holes or courses in the world. You could play a new course everyday for the rest of your life and never play the same course twice. Furthermore, no matter how many times you play the same course, every time feels like the 1st because you never play it the exact same way twice. This uniqueness, along with the vast selection of courses around the world to play, makes golf really special and adds to the challenges of the game.
2. The Importance of Consistency
There is a correct way to do everything in sports and consistency is a constant goal. Every motion that is required to complete a desired outcome can be taught and perfected. Innate talent combined with the work ethic to master those movements usually equals success. Golf is no exception. Saying golf requires consistency to succeed is like saying that Goodfellas is a good movie. It’s a fact. You have different swings for different clubs, and when you hit that club, you need the swing to be the same every time.
I know that I will not hit a good shot every time because otherwise I would be a professional. Even they hit bad shots. Terrible shots are going to happen, every single round, often multiple times during a hole. There are varying degrees of a bad shot but if there is one thing that is for sure, it’s that there will be poor shots. And if you hit a second ball for fun or practice, it will always be better than the first. The key is dealing with these bad shots, overcoming them and not letting them affect the rest of your round. It’s so easy to dwell on a shot or a hole and think about what could have been. Golf has taught me to have a short memory and move on to the next shot. Just as in life, there will be poor decisions and possible regrets that will tempt you to dwell on, thus affecting your next move. If you just move forward and focus on the hitting the next shot to the best of your ability, you are working towards a better round (or life). I’m grateful to golf for teaching me that lesson and I continue to strive for consistency.
3. The Networking/Business Excuse
Imagine the above photo was your office. It becomes one daily for people conducting business over 18 holes. What other sport (or leisure activity) allows you to discuss business while playing? Can you imagine discussing terms of a potential merger through grunts from opposite sides of a tennis court? Golf is the perfect networking game. There’s a lot of down time throughout a round and you can really get to know someone by playing 18 holes with him or her. I love the fact that you can spend a productive business morning on a course one day and then play with family or friends for fun the next. I will never turn down a business or charity golf outing.
4. Being Outside
When I’m on a golf course, I really appreciate how green everything is. I’ve always enjoyed being outside, no matter what I’m doing, but a nice day on a golf course is especially stimulating. It’s probably because I enjoy playing so much, but either way one of the joys I get out of playing is the fact that I get to be outside. Add to that a nice course with nice views overlooking water or mountains etc., and I’m a happy man. Playing on a course that is well-kept with true greens and manicured tee boxes always makes the experience more fun. There’s too many nice courses out there and if I could, I think I would just travel from city to city sampling them – improving my game and being outside of course.
5. Individuality of the game
Golf is without a doubt a social game (see reason No. 3), but when it comes down to it, you are playing against yourself. You know what you have shot in the past and what you need to do beat that score. Everyone that you’re playing with is playing the same course, starts in the same tee box and ends in the same hole. Only you can control what you do on the course and there is no one to blame but yourself if you fail. You can play a match and have an “opponent” but there is no one preventing you from accomplishing what you want to besides yourself. There’s no defense, no obstruction and no clock. It’s you vs. yourself. I love that golf is an individual game and I think that this is partially what makes it such a mental game. The individual and mental aspects are unlike most other sports and those variables makes golf both extremely frustrating and rewarding. But like reason No. 2, it makes golf what it is and it’s why so many people keep coming back. I know I’m not alone in my addiction to golf and I just hope I’m fortunate enough to continue to enjoy these byproducts of playing such a great game.