I first picked up a golf club at age 7. Not quite as early as Tiger Woods or on his level but I definitely understand the lifestyle of golf. Now that Tiger has fallen off a bit to say the least and golf popularity has taken a plunge, I would like to plead my case for why you should be swinging a club this summer.
First of all, in a society that’s driven by action overload, golf goes against the grain. No, it’s not boring, it’s just slower. But that’s precisely why you should play. When we are always on the go it can be easy to forget you need balance in your life and that there are times you need to slow down. Golf provides you with this opportunity just by the slower pace and by surrounding yourself by beautiful scenery outside. Think of it as a competitive hike. It usually takes 2 hours for 9 holes and about 4 hours for 18 holes. That means you get away from the office, the family, the stress of life and it’s just you, the ball, and the course. It teaches you to release the outside world and focus.
Secondly, golf is hard. Extremely hard. When you watch them play on TV and they are hitting the ball 350 yards off the tee and nailing eagles from 150 yards out, that is NOT normal. Most of us will never get to that level and that’s OK. We will continue to try. Because of this golf teaches you to be patient and that you can’t conquer Rome in a day. It takes methodical effort but if you put it in, you will see results. It never fails that you will have shots that frustrate the hell out of you but that one shot you hit on the 5th hole that felt perfect when the club cut the blades of grass, lifts the ball up and on to the green 5 feet from the hole, make all the bad shots worth it.
Golf is a very mechanical game. It takes hours upon hours to perfect your swing. And then you get to vary your swing depending on the club you are using and the situation. There is so much strategy to golf that people don’t even know exists. You have to know yourself and your game. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. How far do you hit each club? Are you more comfortable with certain clubs? What do you do when you are in heavy rough? What club do you use to get out of a pinch? If you are on the fringe of the green do you chip or put? Each of these questions takes a lot of time to develop answers to and those answers change. The point is golf teaches you that you must know yourself in order to find the most success.
As most people know, golf comes with a rule book the size of the Bible. Well, not quite, but I will definitely tell you that there are many unwritten rules that aren’t in most rule books. Golf etiquette is a tradition that is as revered as the sport itself. In fact, I’d argue that etiquette is actually part of the sport. Depending on where you play will tell you what you can get away with. Public courses will be more lenient on some of the rules than country clubs. While, this might seem like a drag, I think it actually teaches you to be considerate of others. For example, when you have multiple players on the green at the same time, and you are walking on the green, it is against etiquette to walk in the line of the ball of another player. The reason is, the grass on the green is so sensitive that if you walk between a ball and the hole, it messes up the lie, and could make that person’s putt more difficult. By following etiquette and trying to avoid that, you are being considerate of your opponent and a proponent for fair play.
Golf is also a game in which you can choose to be either social or individual. It’s just as fun to play alone with you against the course as it is to play with a bunch of friends, ride around in golf carts, and not care as much about performance. You get to make fun of each other when you mess up and celebrate when you make a great shot. It’s great bonding. And when someone’s ball lands on the edge of a creek and they try to take the risk and hit it out, but actually fall in the creek itself, it’s cause for amazing Facebook pictures!
You will notice after playing golf that the lessons you learn from it will start to filter into the rest of your life. Like when you hit a tree and go backwards 20 yards, it’s pretty damn funny and you can always swing the club again!