Do you consider golf to be a sport?
A sport is defined as "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment."
Now, let's break it down.
Most people who argue against this will say that golf does not involve physical exertion. This is a HUGE misconception about golf. Most people who come to the conclusion that golf is not physically exerting do so because they see a person hit a ball and walk. "How tiring could that be?" They ask themselves.
Well, golf tournaments are played over 18 holes and are usually 4 days long. A single round of 18 holes can take you anywhere between 4 and 5 hours. Add to this the amount of time for warm up and after round practice and you come to about 9 hours of golf on a tournament day. Further, on non tournament days, you'll find professional golfers spending the ENTIRE day practicing and playing. This is about 8–12 hours a day on the golf course. I myself have known people who practice 6 days a week, 12 hours a day. What's more? They carry their own bags and play even in 115 Fahrenheit (45 Celsius). The competition to be the best has pushed players to work for every advantage, and working harder and getting tougher is very important. Playing 6 days a week, 8 -10 hours a day, year round is extremely exhausting.
Many touring professional golfers play tournament golf for 30–36 weeks a year. Which means that they spend 30–36 weeks a year away from home! Each week is usually a different City, State, Country and by extension, Time Zone. Constantly changing Time Zones and sleep cycles, coupled with hours and hours of hard work can take a devastating toll on the body. This is what professional golf is like. It is Mentally and Physically Exhausting.
Golf affords you something that other sports don't afford you. Golf gives you TIME TO THINK. You hit a shot and you walk, giving yourself minutes of pure solitude, allowing you to indulge in whatever thoughts you desire. This can be a good thing, it gives you the time needed to make the best decision. But I think something that's very difficult to comprehend, unless you play golf yourself, is how debilitating that ‘Thinking Time' truly can be. You contemplate all the things that can go wrong, you think about how bad that shot you just hit was, you blame yourself for all the small mistakes you made in the round, you put pressure on yourself to make some sort of miraculous recovery, whatever. If you've played golf before, you know what I'm referring to, it's extremely draining.
But, whenever something is difficult, there is an opportunity for achievement.
If it is tough to be mentally strong, then those who are able to achieve mental toughness are heavily rewarded. Think of Tiger Woods before his spiral. He was unbeatable! Why? Because whenever he was put under pressure, his mind worked for him, not against. He trained his mind to be his ally, while for most people, it just riddles them with fear and anxiety.
Golf is therefore a sport.
It involves physical exertion, it requires a lot of skill and many people (sometimes teams) compete for a title (as well as large sums of money), people watch golf for entertainment. All the criteria seem to be comfortably satisfied.
Most people struggle with this idea because golf doesn't involve people running around and getting tired. They see people standing in one spot, with a club and a small ball, and swinging. It is easy to overlook the complexity of the sport. In order to change your outlook on how easy or difficult golf truly is, I urge you to try it. I am sure you will have a new appreciation for the complexity and challenges golf provides.
From experience I can tell you why I love golf.
Every shot is a brand new challenge. You probably never have to hit the same shot twice. It's a puzzle, where the execution is as challenging as the solution to the puzzle. Every shot comes with it's own set of decisions, some better than others, but usually, there's no right answer. You play golf however YOU want to. YOU make a decision, YOU try to execute it, if it doesn't go well it's YOUR fault but if you win, the credit is ALL YOURS. There's no one else to blame. You must make the decision and you must live with the consequences. I've always found golf to be a tiny but accurate representation of life. New, exciting and challenging obstacles. Competitors. Technical ability. Flexibility and ability to improvise. All of this and more is tested every time you tee up the ball.
Golf has always been, and will always be, one of my favorite sports.