At its best, golf at times feels less like a hobby and more like a life-changing experience. Indeed, there is something all-encompassing about a passion for golf that only its aficionados can fully appreciate: Whether it lies in the chance to spend time in nature or in the opportunity to meet new people, golf can offer us a lifetime of enjoyment if we let it into our hearts. Truly, that is something irreplaceable about this unique and deeply challenging sport.
Moreover, every day spent on a golf course can teach us something new about life. Here are just three strange lessons I’ve learned while golfing and why I wouldn’t change them or my favorite sport for the world.
1. People Are Less Snobby Than We Think
In popular culture, golf occupies a place of fascination and even mystery. We often associate golfing with secluded country clubs where the rich broker backroom deals and sip champagne between rounds.
There is certainly some truth to this stereotype: It can hardly be denied that a handful of golf clubs across the country are closed off to anyone other than the extremely wealthy or well-connected. But in my own experience, most day-to-day golfers are just trying to relax and have a fun time. It is true that most golf courses expect players to be polite and even well-dressed when out on the links, but most golfers simply love the game; they’re not out golfing in order to lord their wealth over others.
And if you do find a course where such a state of affairs is common, you don’t have to remain there! There are many thousands of golf courses around the country. If you’re unhappy at one, you might find enjoyment at another. Get to know the people at your local course: You might just be surprised at how friendly they are! You will occasionally find a snob here and there; however, you shouldn’t let insecure people ruin your golfing experience.
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2. Time in the Natural World Relieves Stress
Maybe it’s that sunlight and fresh air is just good for us. Maybe it is that our bodies crave the sights and sounds of a spring or summer day. But when I started golfing, I really began to appreciate just how much we need to spend time in nature as human beings to feel truly healthy. As something of a homebody, I was always content to stay indoors and find interesting activities to do on my own time.
But somehow golf instilled a love of nature in my life. If it’s well-made, a golf course has something of classical beauty about it. When I’m on a golf course in the spring or summer, I can’t help but think of 18th Century paintings full of Arcadian splendor. To Ancient Greek thinkers, Arcadia was a pastoral environment in which humankind lived in harmony with the natural world. I’ll admit that I don’t often feel that sense of harmony when walking down a city street. But I do feel it on the golf course.
And that time spent in such a beautiful natural environment always renews my spirits. Indeed, one of golf’s greatest gifts lies in the chance to spend a few blissful hours among the elements. To this day, I’ve never regretted time spent on the links.
3. The Learning Curve Of Golf Is Steep!
Watching pro golfers on television, you’d think that hitting a golf ball from the tee to the putting green was easy. But the reality is that golf has a pretty steep learning curve; if you’re just starting out, prepare to experience more “slices” and “hooks” than you can shake a nine iron at.
Indeed, there’s a reason that most courses offer the chance to practice on driving ranges and putting greens to players: If you want some advice, take advantage of these amenities if you have the time! Getting a shot straight down the middle on a challenging course takes a lot of practice. At its most difficult, golf is still fun; but honing your skills on the driving range can bring a lot of surplus joy to the pastime. As in life, practice does really pay off in golf!
So there you have it: I certainly wasn’t expecting to learn so much about my own life from spending time on a few golf courses. And yet golf has taught me much about myself and about the world around me. It has taught me not to judge a book by its cover; moreover, I have learned that a healthy life often involves some level of communion with the rhythms of the natural world. And I’ve certainly learned more about patience from this wonderful sport.
When it comes down to it, I’ll be learning new things as long as I continue to golf. In fact, that might be the greatest gift that golf can offer me. While I may sometimes take this gift for granted, I regularly appreciate how much a love of golfing has improved my life. How many sports can offer us such a deal?