The Benefits and Controversies of Golf


The benefits of golf are obvious: you get exercise, and a certain amount of social interaction. But because the game is so new, there is still some controversy about its benefits.

Golfing can be dangerous. It has been suggested that golf-induced anger, depression and insomnia are related to the stresses induced by playing the game. There is also a question about how much exercise you need to take care of yourself.

Golf is a sport that has taken the world by storm. Some people get really passionate about it: they love playing golf and they love talking about it.

But before you can talk about golf, you have to play it, right? So let’s start there. You can’t even think of golf without imagining yourself doing it. I’m going to call this your first mental picture of golf. Here is how it will look in your mind:

It’ll be an empty field, somewhere like in Scotland, or Arizona, or Ontario. The sky is vast and blue, the grass is soft and green, the birds are tweeting gaily overhead as you lie on your back with a club in your hands looking up at the sky. But there is also a problem: it’s so beautiful here that you are afraid to get up and go back to civilization. So you lie there for a long time, thinking about the problem of getting back to civilization.

You finally decide that there is some place nearby where you can buy something to eat and drink, so you putted a few holes then walked over to the nearest shop which was only half a mile away; but now you are really hungry: maybe five minutes later and you would have been out of sight of civilization

It is worth noting that all of the “benefits” are in some way benefits of civilization and culture.

The first benefit is the capacity for leisure, for the time to think about the game. Players who tee up a round have time to analyze their shots, decide on their strategy and plan how they will get out of trouble if things don’t work out.

This is a benefit not just of the game, but also of civilized life in general. Most people are too busy even to take the time to think. And civilized life in general often leaves them with too little time and energy to think, let alone analyze what they are doing or to plan for contingencies. The result is a lot of wasted effort and wasted lives.

Second, golf offers an opportunity for competition between people, which in turn promotes cooperation as well as competition. And this is a problem we have to solve if we are going to get along as well as we can; competition and cooperation are necessary parts of any society that has high standards of living.

Golf is a sport we can all understand. We may envy the rich and famous, or we may deplore their excesses, but golf is something most of us can have fun playing.

The myth of the weekend golfer is that he or she is someone who plays golf on weekends and has no other interests. Really? What about Ikea-goers? Or people who hike in the woods every day, but never play golf? Or marathon runners?

A lot of people say they love to golf, when in fact they only like to play for a few hours on Saturday morning before work. The game is an escape from work, not an immersion in it. It gives them a few minutes to feel good about themselves and get out of their routine. But it doesn’t make them happier.

Golf is an activity that is almost as old as civilization itself. It has been featured in every known culture at some point. There are all sorts of reasons to play golf, and now there are people who even do it for fun, who are not trying to make money or win tournaments. For a lot of those people, the game occupies a space somewhere between recreation and art.

This essay will address a few of the issues that golf faces in the 21st century.

The perception of golf as a sport for social elites began to change around the time of the first Open Championship, which was held in 1860. Golf became popular with the middle and working classes when courses were built on cheap land near major cities:

“Courses like the Old Course at St Andrews were so expensive, they could only be played by rich aristocrats – baronets, dukes and earls,” says Andrew Brodie, editor-in-chief of Golf Digest magazine. “Eventually, though, you could get a game for £1 per person.”

Brodie says that after World War II Britain’s middle and working classes lost their “respectability” and suddenly wanted to be seen playing golf again. But because of its association with aristocracy, no one wanted to be seen

In the summer of 2004, I played twelve rounds at Augusta National, the famous course in Georgia that is home to the Masters tournament. The club’s membership had been closed to women for forty years. It was time to change that.

The decision was a big deal: it meant admitting women as members, something no other club was doing; it would also mean shutting down half the course for two weeks every year for about a hundred years.

So I wrote an essay about the controversy and posted it on my blog, which is where I write most of my professional articles (and a few personal ones).

You can always judge whether your writing is good by how many people read it. In the first day after I posted this essay, more than 6,000 people clicked through from other blogs—and most of them were women who were applying for membership at Augusta.

It’s easy to see that golf is in a class all its own. So it is no surprise that there are special rules to govern the game, and special clubs and balls to be used. But what if it were possible to play golf with a baseball bat? Or a football, or a hockey stick? It seems impossible, but in New Jersey you can.

The game is called city golf and is played on an artificial turf field. The players stand on their respective playing fields, which are based on the real ones. They use sticks made out of wood. These wooden sticks are not the same as those used in real golf, though they look similar; they have been specially crafted for these artificial turf fields. They are tapered at the end, so that when you drive them into the ground you can keep your head down and avoid injury from high line drives.

City golfers wear protective gear: padded jackets, elbow pads, helmets. When you hit the ball, you don’t need to worry about how it might bounce or roll along its path; because of the physics of a synthetic turf field (which has always used plastic particles), it just sits there until someone hits it back into play.

However long city golf has existed there have been complaints about the


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