National Golf Day: Why I Love Golf

Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

In honor of National Golf Day, let’s take some time to reflect on what makes our sport stand out from all the others.

National Golf Day won’t get you the day off from work, but it’s still an ideal opportunity to take some time to reflect upon the great qualities of our sport. With the big day finally upon us, I’d like to share my thoughts.

Growing up, my dad and I watched a ton of sports together. I have countless childhood memories of sitting in front of the TV and learning the ins and outs of various games and leagues, from Major League Baseball to the National Football League.

More than all the others, though, it was golf that intrigued me. Even before I understood the nuances of scoring and tournament broadcasts, there was something about the swings and the vistas that captured my imagination. The thought of legends like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson hitting that little white ball to within mere feet of a faraway hole made me shake my head in disbelief — how do they do it?

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In time, I began to find out more about the sport, and the more I learned, the more I came to love it. I grew up on games like baseball and football (and still enjoy them immensely to this day), but to me, golf seemed an entirely different animal. All sports require physical ability and effective strategy, but golf requires the athlete to combine these traits like no other. Every single shot is meaningful, and we see the pros bare their souls in the sand and on the greens every Sunday. There’s really nothing quite like it.

But fast as I was to appreciate the professional game, actually learning how to navigate a course was a much longer process. Lessons, tee times, equipment — all of these are expensive. I fondly remember riding shotgun with my father during some of his rounds (with a Yoo-hoo in the cupholder, of course) and trips to the driving range, but for one reason or another, I didn’t make much progress with my swing during the first decade of my life.

Slowly but surely, though, my game has improved. Puberty certainly helped, but so did a more focused desire to actually learn the sport that had always fascinated me so. I’ve still got a long way to go — no one’s going to mistake me for a scratch golfer — but being able to navigate a course and imagine myself in the shoes of Jordan Spieth or Dustin Johnson as they stare down a tough putt has made the game all the more meaningful for me.

One thing I’ve learned is that golf’s appeal, like all the best things, is multi-layered. A round of golf is a challenge for the body, mind and soul, and even if you’ve been your club’s champion for the past 20 years, there’s always some part of your game to improve.

On the professional level, golf provides us with some of the most suspenseful moments in sports. It also has a special tendency to connect with its spectators. In a tournament broadcast, every hole presents us with a different hypothetical: “You’re on the back nine, you’re gassed, there’s a breeze blowing right-to-left and you’ve been wild off the tee all day — what are you going to do?” What other sport can put us in such relatable situations?

In this regard, and in many others, golf stands alone. No matter how you celebrate National Golf Day, make sure you pay some sort of tribute to our great game.

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