Is golf really a sport or just a game?

mulligan, 04 February 2004, Comments Off on Is golf really a sport or just a game?
Categories: Uncategorized

Having played golf competitively on many levels (High School and College (2002 Graduate)), I bring what I consider a different view of golf. My views have developed from having played golf for many years and watching people succeed and fail. I have played many of the great golf courses in the country and I have been brought up as golf as my backbone. So knowing that, here is my first post…

Growing up in the time when football and soccer were cool and golfers were considered losers (that is pre-tiger), I have constantly been posed the question is golf a game or a sport. So what is it?

When people think of sports: baseball, soccer, football, and basketball normally come to mind. And when people think of games: chess, monopoly, checkers, poker normally come to mind. So where does golf fit into this spectrum?

Well, if we take what most people consider sports, I believe the item consistent with all of them is that they are reactionary. When LeBron James, Warren Sapp, Roger Clemens, and Beckham all participate in their respective profession, I strongly doubt that LeBron thinks about whether his shoulders are square when he shoots a 3-pointer. I would bet that Warren Sapp thinks about whether he keeps his head up when trying to sack the quarterback. I doubt that Roger Clemens worries about how far the catcher is from the pitcher’s mound. And, I seriously question whether Beckham thinks about how his leg is going to kick the ball into the upper right corner of the net. They all just do it. It is reactionary.

Now, let’s take a look at what people consider games. These games are not reactionary. You don’t just touch a piece and move it in chess or checkers. You think about each move and its consequences. In monopoly, you don’t always buy every piece of property that you land on. And playing 7-card stud you would not go all in on a 2 -7 off suit. You contemplate what you should do and then perform.

So what is golf a game or a sport? Do you think Tiger thinks about if his left elbow is bowed out or do you think he just clears his mind and swings? Does Davis worry about whether he keeps his head down when he strokes in the 5 footer for birdie after stuffing a wedge or does he just go through his routine and putt it in? Using the reactionary/non-reactionary distinction, I think that for the best golfers in the world or at your country club, golf is definitely a sport. The elite players don’t worry about many of these things. It is completely reactionary. I think this is why children are such good putters. They don’t think about whether it is going left or right, they just stand up and whack it in. But for most golfers, Golf is a game. They worry about the water left and then hit it into the water or hit it out of bounds right. It is not reactionary.

If you don’t believe me, try this:

Take 5 golf balls and a trash can. Place the trash can 30 yards or some distance away from you. Now, try to throw the balls into the trash can. I would bet that after you have thrown a couple thinking about how far to throw it and what trajectory was needed, your mind clears and you start to make them into the trash can. You go from thinking about it to being reactionary. And I bet that if you try to make the game more reactionary, you will definitely improve!

So for you, is golf a sport or just a game?


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