Why is Golf so Popular?: 13 Reasons

Introduction

Golf is a popular game that is loved by millions of sports enthusiasts worldwide. It’s my favorite sporting activity.

If you don’t know the game, you might be wondering why people love it, and why some might claim to be addicted to it.

13 Reasons Why Golf is Popular

Golf is a Lifetime Sport

Unlike many other sports, golf is a game that doesn’t discriminate based on age.

Technically you can play when you are able to hold a club and have the coordination to swing.

The youngest person to score a hole-in-one was just 4 years old at the time.

It’s possible to find videos of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy playing golf at a very young age.

Seniors also love the game. They don’t need to be as physically fit to play golf compared with other sports like tennis, football (soccer), basketball etc.

At one of my former clubs, one of the lady members was well into her 90s and had been a member since childhood.

Willie Cuthbert of Kirkintilloch Golf Club, has been a member of the club for 90 Years!

Senior golfers
Golf can be enjoyed from 8 to 80!

It is a Challenge

Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.

Winston Churchill

Golf is one of the more difficult sports to learn. It is even more difficult to master! You are likely to find it a lifelong challenge of continual practice and play in order to improve or maintain your level of performance.

There is always some part of your game that can be improved.

Personally, I think the fact that it is challenging is the biggest reason why golf is so popular.

People hit one or two well-struck shots and want to keep coming back for more of that feeling.

The Outdoors

It is a great opportunity to get outdoors. The overwhelming majority of golf courses allow you to get some fresh air in a pleasant environment for a few hours.

Okay, there are a few golf courses located in not such nice surroundings but in general golf courses do offer a pleasant environment for golfers. If they didn’t, then people wouldn’t keep coming back.

The elements also provide their own unique challenges. Wind, rain and ice all have an effect on the playability of the course and the difficulty of hitting your shots.

Gloucester golf club
Gloucester Golf Club

Variety

Variety is the spice of life as they say and golf courses come in all shapes and sizes. Windswept links on the UK coastline, established parkland courses in New England and desert courses in Las Vegas. You can get courses at great altitudes or even below sea level.

Long courses and short courses. Beginner-friendly or fiendishly difficult.

With just under 39,000 golf courses worldwide you will be spoilt for choice.

Even the same golf course will change from day to day. The tee markers will be moved and the holes repositioned at regular intervals. Weather conditions can have a marked effect on how the golf course plays as well.

Golf popularity has increased during the pandemic

Good Exercise

Golf is also a great form of exercise since you are spending most of your time walking and being on your feet (Unless you use a cart!).

A typical round of golf will see you walking around 5 miles. A brisk walk is often cited as a good way to exercise as it is very low impact. It is also an exercise that almost everyone is able to perform.

It’s certainly going to be much better for your health than sitting on your office chair for hours or relaxing on the sofa at home.

Regular exercise will help avoid higher blood pressure, insomnia and reduce anxiety. It will also help you reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

A Swedish study published in the National Library of Medicine showed that golfers exhibited a reduced rate of mortality.

Improves Mental Health

In 2020 after the advent of Covid-19, we realized just how important mental health is. Physical exercise is good at reducing anxiety.

Studies show how activities like golf can be positive to your mental well-being. This one published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine for example.

Socializing

Golf is a great social game. A round of golf will take 3 to 4 hours so it’s a great opportunity to chat with your playing partners. During the Covid 19 pandemic, this aspect of golf has probably been one of the most important.

Many people will stay for a drink or a meal after playing. Golf clubs are friendly and safe places to spend some time. You may make friends that last a lifetime.

Some club members build their whole social life around the events organized by their club. You may find your local clubs organize all sorts of events from barbecues to dances et cetera. Indeed many golf or country clubs offer a social membership where you can avail yourself of the clubhouse facilities.

Why is golf so popular
Golf is a great game for socializing

Character Building

Golf… is the infallible test. The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well.

P.G. Wodehouse

Though golf can often be challenging, it’s an opportunity to build good character. When you miss a putt for the fourth time, then you have two options.

  • Get frustrated and allow your mistake to affect the rest of your round
  • Show some character and soldier on determined to improve your performance

If golf teaches you anything it should teach you humility. Even the greatest players in the game can hit bad shots.

Indeed, Bobby Jones was chastised for throwing a club at the age of 14. He learned to control his temper and went on to be one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

Competition

Golf’s handicap system means that even players of differing abilities can still compete against one another on a level playing field.

Pete Sampras could give me a 40-0 lead in every game and unless he serves a double fault or misses a shot I am unlikely to win a single game off him.

That’s not the same as golf. Everyone is playing the same course with their own ball. A better player can’t impose their game on the weaker player except in the form of mental pressure.

Different sets of teeing grounds also allow players who don’t hit the ball as far to remain competitive.

There are also many different types of games that you can play. The televised events for professionals are almost always 72 hole strokeplay. Amateurs at club level might play some of the following:

  • Matchplay
  • Bogey
  • Stableford
  • Skins
  • Scramble
  • Foursomes

You can also take part in tournaments at your own club or other clubs.

Tradition

Golf’s roots date back hundreds of years and it has a strong backbone of rules not just about how to play the game but about how to treat fellow players.

Sports such as football (soccer) and tennis where you see players arguing with officials could probably do with taking a leaf from golf.

The rules of etiquette are meant to make the game more enjoyable for everyone. For example, when one of your group hits a good shot you are expected to congratulate them. You won’t see that happening in many other sports.

Great for all the Family

Golf is an excellent way for a family to spend some quality time together. If they want they can introduce a little bit of friendly competition to proceedings as well!

Jr golfer
All the family can play

Anytime, Anyplace

Assuming you’re not a fair-weather golfer (I’m afraid these days I am) then golf can be played pretty much year-round in most parts of the world.

There are even a few floodlit golf courses that will allow you to play after dark! If you are looking for a change then you can play ice/snow courses at certain times of the year. If sunny weather is more to your taste then maybe desert golf on “browns” might appeal.

If you have space you can even practice indoors. If not you can still practice your putting.

Networking

Golf is often cited as a great avenue for business networking.

Some people might bring this up as a positive and others as a negative. To be honest I’ve not really come across this issue in the 30 years that I’ve played golf. Maybe I just don’t move in the right circles!

Who helped to Popularise it?

Golf was taken to the world by British and in particular Scottish people. One of the earliest golf clubs outside of Britain is to be found in India. The Royal Calcutta Golf club was formed in 1829.

In the US a shipment of golf clubs was reportedly sent to Charleston In 1739!

It wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th century that golf really started to take off. This was the golden age of golf course building. England went from 10 courses to 1000 between 1880 and 1914!

Arguably the 5 biggest drivers of the game’s popularity in the US at least would be:

  • Bobby Jones. Won the impregnable quadrilateral and got a tickertape parade.
  • Pres Eisenhower. A keen golfer.
  • Arnold Palmer. So popular he had his own “army”.
  • Jack Nicklaus. Along with Palmer, his successes were showcased to a burgeoning TV audience.
  • Tiger Woods. Far and away the most successful player of the modern era he has attracted millions of people to the game.

Why is Golf so Popular?: Summary

If you are looking for a game to keep you enthralled from 8 to 80, then golf should be your choice. It will be beneficial to your health and get you to spend some time outside away from those electronic devices!

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

When did golf get popular?

Golf’s popularity saw a tremendous surge towards the end of the 19th century with a large number of courses being constructed. The game’s growth can also be ascribed to Pres. Eisenhower, Arnold Palmer and more recently Tiger Woods.

Why is golf popular among the rich?

Primarily because of the costs involved in playing the game. Although equipment can be brought used without breaking the bank you will still need to pay for green fees or membership which in many countries is beyond the means of all but the wealthy.

Is golf posh?

It certainly can be although in many areas golf is accessible to all that want to play. Schemes like FirstTee and TriGolf try to improve accessibility for children in particular,

What’s great about golf?

It gets you out in the fresh air which is great for your physical and mental health! You can meet new people and find new courses to play to challenge your game. Golf itself is a challenging activity that requires patience and practice to improve.

Why is golf so expensive?

Purchasing and maintaining such a large playing area means green fees and subscriptions can be expensive for players. You also need clubs, balls, shoes, gloves, etc. which can start to add up. Is golf expensive takes a closer look at the issue of rising golf costs.

Why is golf so addictive?

The thrill of hitting one “out the middle” is usually enough to keep people coming back for more.

Why is golf so boring?

In my humble opinion, it isn’t! As a spectator sport it is perhaps not as thrilling as football (soccer) but playing golf offers continual challenges, from the weather if nothing else!

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