It’s a pretty simple game, golf. The objective is crystal clear; Get ball in hole using a club.
It’s a peculiar sort of sport where less means more - you’re not trying to accumulate points, you’re trying to avoid them. Let’s have a look at just why this somewhat ordinary-looking, backward scoring game has captured the imaginations of millions around the world; and why so many consider golf addictive.
The Exercise Factor
This feature of the game is totally beside the point, but it is obviously a major side-benefit. You don’t need to be in especially good shape to play golf (of course there are great reasons to “train”, stretch, etc. to improve ones’ game); but by playing regularly, you sure are burning calories and working muscle groups, especially when not using a golf cart. The cardio-vascular benefits alone makes people want to play, and play again.
The Social Aspect. Or Not
Golf is a great way to spend time with people. Friends, family, and business associates. Social bonds have been created, enhanced, and cemented on the links, for years and years. On the flipside: It’s also a great way to spend time alone, if a little solitude is what you are seeking.
Golf courses offer some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable, and they are also found all over the globe. Hills, mountains, rolling plains, lakes, ponds, oceans, deserts, you name it - they can, and have, built a golf course in it, or around it. The opportunity to spend a few hours in beautiful surroundings, and seek them out, around the world, can make the game truly addictive.
A Life-Long Pursuit
The beauty of golf is that it can be played at virtually any age - even as a toddler. Remember Tiger Woods on the Mike Douglas Show? He did it in 1978. He was two years old! Then there’s the Guiness Book of World Records entry about the 104 year-old fellow who shot 103; he had also shot a 98 when he was 99. Some teenagers get exposed to the game as a high school gym class, and get hooked for life. As the game can stay with you for your whole life, many spend their whole life playing the game.
Accommodates a Wide Range of Skill Levels
An astounding statistic is that the top, top pro golfers represent the very best 1% of the top 1% of players out there. That is the truly elite squad, but consider the millions and millions of people down the ladder who play the game. Despite the exclusiveness of the very top tier, golf has to be one of the most inclusive activities (affordability being one possible limiting factor) out there. Let’s face it - anyone, just about - can take up golf and love it.
The Drive to Improve
Having said that, about the unlikelihood of reaching the top of the game, golf allows the participant to strive for improvement. You might not hit the pros; you might not ever be the best in your foursome. But golf is one game where you can, over time, improve your skills, improve your game, and improve your self-confidence. That is an addictive prospect.
In a world that can be, let’s say, less than civilized - just consider your commute, or your hectic pressure-cooker job - golf offers an opportunity to engage in some etiquette and civility. It’s not a loud sport; just consider the applause and commentary on television. When was the last time you heard anyone yelling or swearing on the links? It’s just not part of the proceedings. You go to the golf course to get away from that sort of behaviour. When the rest of the week is, to use a polite expression, frantic, golf offers a wonderful respite. It can get addictive.
A Game of the Mind
Golf does not require bulging muscles, or a perfect BMI. It doesn’t require stamina such as that associated with high-impact sports. We’ve already mentioned that it can be played at any age. That’s what makes it great, as a game of the mind. On the links, mindset and concentration are a huge part of the activity, easily as important as the backswing and follow through. The physical requirements and required skill set are there, certainly. But as a means of sharpening concentration and relaxation skills, there is probably no finer pastime. It kind of makes you want to play again; and again.
A Game to Play Against Yourself
We’ve talked about the social aspect and camaraderie associated with golf, and they are real and terrific. But as a game, golf is the ultimate game to play - against yourself. Think of all the practice swings, practice putts, trips to the driving range. These are all taken to get better at the game. How you do against your friends, your colleagues, or your foursome, becomes almost immaterial. You go out there to see if you can do better than you did the last time, especially if you had a great round the last time. Because you’re not passing the ball, it’s all up to you - an individual effort.
We all know that life can be a pressure cooker. Job, mortgage, kids, career, and all the rest take their toll. That four to six hour break, on the weekend, or a mid-week sneak-off, can so effectively break the tension. All the aforementioned attributes - the scenery, the company, the outdoors, the competitiveness, can all contribute to an overall enhanced appreciation of why we are all here - to live, to enjoy. In that regard, there is no other pursuit, athletic or otherwise, quite like the simple game called golf. Having gone through the list of its unique qualities, you can start to see why so many find it addictive.