Golf is one of the most widespread, popular sports in the world. Easy to begin, yet always challenging, it has a lot to offer everyone of any age, degree of fitness and level of skill. If you have never tried the game and wonder why it attracts so many others, consider some of the benefits it offers you and your community.
A drive through most colonized regions of the developed world will testify to the popularity of the sport of golf. Vast tracts of prime parkland in urban, suburban and rural communities are dedicated and meticulously maintained as fairways, greens and clubhouses. Devotees to the links will work their careers, domestic responsibilities and social life around their tee times. Weather will not daunt them and they will take advantage of every hour of daylight to fit in another round.
If you’ve never tried golf, this obsession may seem a bit baffling. Not everyone sees the attraction. Mark Twain, for one, defined golf as “a good walk spoiled.” Another has quipped “Golf can best be defined as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle.” So what is it about golf that continues to entice players?
The Benefits of Golf
The many facets of the game of golf combine to offer you a wide range of physical, mental, emotional and social benefits.
The average walking circuit for a round of golf is about four miles, or six kilometres, which is an ideal distance done weekly to maintain relatively good physical fitness. If you walk briskly, you will increase your cardio-vascular and lung capacity. Normally, a person’s heart rate while playing golf does not elevate above 120 beats per minute, so the exercise does not qualify as a “cardio” or aerobic workout, but it is perfect for steadily burning fat. If you pull your clubs or carry them, you’ll burn even more calories each round. Swinging the club conditions your upper body and back while bending down to handle the ball helps keep all your joints and muscles supple.
A round of golf burns about 300 calories in a 150 pound individual who plays for 1 hour while carrying clubs. If you choose to ride in a cart, the same round of golf will burn 230 calories. The driving range burns about 200 calories per hour.
The fact that golf involves hours outside can also be a benefit. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, regulating the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. It also helps regulate the growth of skin cells. While you can eat some foods that are high in vitamin D, your body can actually produce its own vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. What more enjoyable way to do that than an afternoon on the course? Don’t forget to use sunscreen with the right UV protection.
Golf offers a challenge to your mind. You are always thinking when you play golf, whether it’s counting shots, working out your score or calculating yardages and club selection. Strategy, decision making, visualization and intense concentration are natural aspects of the play and the cerebral exercise will benefit your mental performance even off the course.
Golf develops our complex motor skills and dexterity. Since the game is based on finesse rather than brute force, it hones our control, muscle memory, balance and hand-eye coordination.
There’s a fine line here. Scenes of golfers throwing or breaking their clubs after a flubbed shot are standard comedy fare. Obsessed competitors can send their blood pressure soaring in the quest for perfection on the course. Like any sport, golf can be an excellent stress reliever or it can become a nemesis to peace of mind; it all depends on your reason for playing.
By nature, though, golf is suited for stress relief. A quiet stroll in the open air with friends, unhurried play, mild exercise and the reward of a shot well placed goes a long way to dissipate the irritations of the work-a-day world at the office. Studies have shown that golf can trigger the release of powerful, natural, mood enhancing endorphins and hormones such as serotonin into the bloodstream. Their calming euphoric effect lasts for hours after the game.
Golf is a social game; a chance to get to know your golf partners better. The etiquette and rules of golf encourage care and respect of others and the course. A round of golf can take up to four hours where individual differences disappear as playing the game becomes the common focus. Most often golf isplayed in pairs or foursomes, and even if you have come to the course alone, it is common to be invited to join others you have never met before.
One reason golfing creates a sense of social harmony is that it is a great leveller; the handicapping system of golf is designed to enable the beginner to play competitively against the highly skilled. There are not many sports where you can compete fairly against the super star.
Interaction on the course is usually marked by the telling of jokes, sharing stories, conducting business and simply getting to know one another. All of this is conducted in a non-threatening environment of friendly competition.
Appreciation of Nature
One of the best things about playing golf is you have the opportunity to walk on some beautiful courses, enjoying the scenery and fresh air. Manicured grass, lush trees, water features, birds and even small animals contribute to the pastoral atmosphere. In many urban settings, the only green space found for miles are the golf courses and they are often paired with parkland and recreational trails, so even those who do not venture onto to course still benefit from the grounds.
Increasingly, golf is making a wider contribution to the community. Golf and country clubs host many tournaments in support of charities. This not only raises thousands of dollars to meet community needs but is also raises awareness of important issues and worthy causes.
No matter what your age, degree of fitness or skill level, it is hard to beat golf as an excellent way to spend leisure time. If you have never tried it, you owe it to yourself to give it a go.