Is Golf A Sport: Why of Course It Is!

Many of us love the game of golf.  It is a great way to spend an evening after work, or time during your weekend.  We get to be outside in nice weather, on a beautiful landscape, while challenging our physical and mental abilities to hit great shots and shoot low scores. 

On top of that you get to hang out with hopefully people that you enjoy being around, others that love the game of golf.

Oftentimes the game can become almost addicting in your journey to get better at golf and produce lower scores.  Those that do not golf might not always understand the draw to the game.

Prior to Tiger Woods entering the pro scene in 1996.  Golf wasn’t always viewed as the most popular game. However, over the last 20 years, the perception has started to change. Along the way new clothing lines have been produced and many of the top golfers on the PGA Tour are gym rats with very athletic builds.

Recently, arguably the best golfer over the past several years, Brooks Koepka, appeared in the Body Issue by Sports Illustrated.

Which leads me to the question that I have often heard: Is Golf A Sport?  

My answer for those that always ask yes and I can prove it to you.  But at the end of the day, I don’t care if others view it as a sport because it is an amazing game and for those of us that golf, we know the mental and physical challenge of producing low scores, the dedication that it takes, and being able to hit quality shots over the course of 4 to 5 hours that a round of golf can take.

I must say I often receive this question as a way to try to dismiss golf and the true challenge that it is.

Below I provide my 10 greatest arguments on why golf is considered a sport and wrap up with how the perception of golf has changed over the past 20 years.  However, let’s first start with the definition of what a sport is. Here we go:



an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

1 – Physical Exertion Is Required

Exertion can be defined as force.  The golf swing, at a high level, requires a great amount of force to be produced by the body.  The best golfers on the professional tours are now pushing over 120 miles per hour with their swing speeds.  Truly amazing and requires a golfer to have an athletic ability that exceeds 99% of society. Now just like basketball or football, you can be overweight, out of shape and still play the game, but most likely not at the highest level possible.

2 – Golf Is A Highly Skilled Game

Arguably the most highly skilled game of the major sports followed by the masses in the United States.  The range of skills that are required to be able to drive the ball over 300 yards, but yet make the 4 foot downhill slippery putt, takes different skills sets.  The best of the best must spend quality time practicing all areas of their craft.

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3 – The Overall Strength and Fitness of A Golfer Improves Can Improve Their Game

The game has changed from the soft looking professional player to the men and women who are obviously working out and challenging their bodies to improve.  Often times golfers are looking to increase flexibility, strength and speed. In addition, staying healthy due to the toll that swinging 120 miles per hour requires a golfer to take care of his or her body on a daily basis.

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Many professional golfers now hit the gym to improve their body and game.

4 – Tiger Woods

Yes, arguably the greatest golfer of all time, revolutionized the game.  The game became more speed based and produced plenty of athletes now in the professional ranks that take care of themselves physically and look to improve their flexibility, strength and speed.  The way he dominated the course with his distance caused courses to lengthen and the game along with the technology has never been more speed and power based at the professional level.

5 – Golf Is Competition Based

From your local municipal course, to the local country club and all the way up the professional ranks, there are competitions and rather fun competitions, to say the least.  It could be as simple as playing a skins game with 3 other golfers or competing for a 10 million dollar purse in the PGA Tour Playoffs, but there might not be a better game that allows people of all ability ranges in the game to compete for pride, money or fun.  Have you seen the Ryder Cup recently, one word for what the Ryder Cup has become…WOW!. The passion, the skill level and the overall stress placed on the competitors is at an all time high. The amount of passion by the fans on both sides has produced arguably the greatest sporting event that occurs every two years.

6 – Golf Can Be Highly Entertaining

The Ryder Cup is exhibit one on the entertainment that golf can bring.  And what golfer or even non golfers can’t wait for April to arrive each year as spring blooms at the Masters Golf Tournament begins.  Now I will agree that some of the golf on television from the more minor tours of golf can be boring if you have no rooting interest, overall the PGA Tour and the 4 majors produces some amazingly entertaining events that are right up there with the best sporting events of the year.

7 – Calories Burned During a Round of Golf

The amount of calories burned during a round of golf when walking can be as high as 1500-1600 depending on body weight and other factors such as heat.  Walking 18 holes and carrying a 25 pound bag can make the game more challenging that riding in a car. If you compared the amount of calories burned in golf to other sports, you might be surprised where golf ranks on that list.

8 – The Mental Challenge of Golf

Not only does golf challenge a golfer physically to be able to produce quality golf shots over 4-5 hours, but every shot is a challenge mentally.  There might not be a sport that requires more mental focus and the ability to stay out of your own way with your golf swing. The best of the best have faltered due to the stress and anxiety that shot can produce. 

The golfer starts worrying about the out of bounds on the left, or the water on the right and before you know it has hit a shot that he or she hasn’t hit in months. The pressure that golf produces is right up there with the best and most popular sports.  Standing on the 18th hole with a one shot lead is similar to the pitcher or batter facing the bottom of the 9th inning, bases loaded, two outs.

9 – Golf is an Olympic Sport

The recent return to the Olympics starting in 2016 helps validate the argument that golf is a sport.  It has returned to the Summer Olympics and hopefully is here to stay. Yet, another form of entertainment where golfers are competing against each other for the pride of being a golf medalist.

10 – Injuries Can Occur in Golf

The physical exertion that a golf swing requires has wrecked many backs and knees over the years.  Freddie Couples and Tiger Woods are the first two to come to mind, but many of the professional golfers have experienced back issues or knee injuries as they grind way trying to improve their skills and compete at the highest level.  If you have ever tried to play golf injured, it can be the most challenging things ever. The body truly needs to be in quality condition to be able to play at your best.

Final Words

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if golf is considered a sport to those of us that love the game.  The benefits and pleasure that golf can bring to those that enjoy the game is truly addicting and makes us dream about the game and look for any opportunity to play. 

However, the Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Rory McIlroy’s of the world make us proud to know that golf is now viewed in a different light and many 20 years olds, after sacrificing their bodies playing sports like football often take up the game and learn to love it as well.

It is really amazing to see the professional athletes from other sports like football, basketball, baseball and hockey take up the game.  Steph Curry recently appeared on the cover of a major golf publication and former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Tony Romo has played in multiple professional events as he tries to compete at the highest levels.  There are the stories of Michael Jordan and his love for the game and former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz who has competed in professional tournaments.

Overall the perception of golf has changed and we can thank golfers like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie.

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