Why Do We Play Golf….?

To keep myself occupied and get my golf “fix” during this Covid 19 lockdown period I’ve been wandering around on You Tube looking at some of the golf content posted there. There’s plenty – from Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf series featuring players like Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and others to some really dodgy golf advice and tips……..!!

There are three golf “vloggers” from the UK I’ve looked at more than others and have enjoyed – Peter Finch, Rick Shiels and James Robinson – because they have put the effort in, even though they are also in Covid 19 lockdown, to make sure their followers have still been able to see new videos almost daily and they’ve tried to keep it interesting.

The nature of the current worldwide shutdown of all sports, golf included, has not made that easy so the search for topics for these three has been challenging!

Which brings me to the title of this piece.

A day or so ago for his daily video James Robinson asked his girlfriend, a non-golfer, to make a list of questions about golf that he could answer. There were some interesting ones – why do we play 18 holes and not another number, where do some of the golfing terms come from like bogey, birdie etc…. and one question that really struck me.

Why do we play golf?

What a question… and I mean that! What a question!

What is it about this game that inspires us to get out there as often as we can to be tortured by what was perfectly described by Arnold Palmer as “…. deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”

These answers will all be intensely personal for each individual but for me an answer echoes that first line – the reasons are deceptively simple and endlessly complicated…. but here are some of the more important ones.

The deceptively simple reason….. I absolutely LOVE this game!

The complicated ones……

The ball lies there and does absolutely nothing until I do something to it and whatever it does after that is TOTALLY ON ME – no excuses!

It is the game of lifetime – what other sport can you play that allows players of ANY age to compete with each other? As an extension to that it is the only sport that I know that has a skill level assessment system – the handicap – that also allows players of any level of ability to play against each other competitively.

It’s never the same two days in a row…. wait…. it’s actually never the same two shots in a row……! Every day you play and every shot you hit poses its own set of unique challenges that you will never face again. Think about it – there will always be a difference in any shot you hit…. how do you feel mentally or physically at that moment…. what’s the weather like… hot or cold, windy, raining, …. what’s the course like.. rough long or short, fairways mown or not, greens fast or slow, firm or soft, bunkers wet or dry, sand coarse or fine…..? Always a new challenge!

It has the ability to reveal the true nature of a person. It has the ability to strip away a thin veneer of civility so quickly….. In my experience I know within three or four holes of playing with someone I haven’t played with before whether I want to play with him or her again … or even whether I want to do business with them…..! It also has no respect for social or financial status… your golfing status is defined only by your attitude and approach to your fellow players

It is one of the few things in the world today that relies on a code of honour. It is certainly the only sport I know where you are required to call penalties on yourself for infringements that only you have seen.

It has given me the opportunity to see and be on some of the more outstanding real estate on the planet!

The feeling of achievement that a good round gives you. Breaking 100 for the first time or shooting level par…. you KNOW what you’ve done and no-one can take that away from you!

These are just a few of the reasons why I play. There are others – exercise, cameraderie, escape – endlessly complicated!!

But I just know – when I stand on that first tee, listening to the banter of my fellow players and looking down the fairway… there is nowhere else on earth I would rather be!

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