For centuries, golf has remained one of the world's most-played sports. How could becoming a golfer enhance your life?
Golfing is popular internationally, from our famous St. Andrew's Old Course in Scotland to Augusta, Georgia's Masters venue. There are numerous reasons why golf is such a popular sport – here are just 101.
1. It's a literal breath of fresh air
Any activity that gets you outside is beneficial2. When you play golf, you're going to start spending a lot of your time outdoors. Vitamin D absorbed from sunlight boosts our immune systems and encourages bone and cell growth (particularly in children). You'll also be surrounded by nature, as many golf courses are created near to scenic lakes and mountains.
2. Golf is a social sport
Having a caddy to hold your golf bag means there's always a reliable, loyal partner nearby. Should you find yourself following someone around the course, why not introduce yourself? After all, you already have golf in common. Sharing a '19th hole' round of drinks back at the clubhouse could be a nice way to end the day.
3. It creates healthy competition in life...
When meeting new golfer friends, one of the first things they'll ask is your handicap. Genuine curiosity could turn into a sense of envy once you realise they're a little better at the game3.
4. ...but you don't always have to keep score
Many sports can only be played in teams. Golf is a pastime that you can easily enjoy by yourself, if you want to. There's no need to have a scorecard, or to even count the number of shots you take. And without a rival to keep up with, every hole can be attempted at your own pace.
5. It could improve your concentration
Golf is a sport that teaches accuracy, focus and concentration4. It also encourages creativity, such as the foresight to visualise where and how far your shot will go. The course can often be a quieter place to learn these skills, without the roar of a crowd or the umpire's whistle to distract you. Hand- -eye co-ordination is essential in golf – as is knowing where your ball landed.
6. The benefits are more than just physical
Golfing is a fairly active pastime, and getting your circulation going means more blood is pumped to your brain. There's been plenty of research into how playing golf affects how you think5. Repeated swings improve your muscle memory, and navigating a course gives you a greater sense of distance and depth.
7. Golfing can relieve stress
Teeing off when you're feeling ticked off will channel your tension and stress into something productive. Exercise can release endorphins, which improve mood and reduce feelings of pain and depression.
8. You'll burn more calories as you play
As well as swinging and putting, golf can involve a considerable amount of walking. On a typical round you'll be almost constantly moving. That sustained activity keeps your heart rate up, at the optimum level for burning calories and fat. It's a surprisingly lesser-known benefit, as golf is not considered a high-energy sport. Hiring a golf buggy is the easier way to get around, but putting in the legwork between holes is a good way to fit exercise into your day.
The average length of a full 18-hole golf course is around 3.5 miles6. It's been estimated that walking the course could burn up to double the calories compared to making the trip in a buggy7.
9. Serious injury is less likely
No physical activity comes with zero risk of injury. As a 'low impact' form of activity, golf rarely exposes you to the risk of serious injuries. It is, however, possible that some movement and muscle issues may occur. Taking it steady, having good posture, and lifting your golf bag in the right way will all reduce the possibility of being injured8.
Something you may find, if you spend a lot of time working on your backswing, is that you get golfer's elbow. It's similar to tennis elbow which is a painful condition caused by strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons in the forearm9. A little rest is usually all that's needed to get better but physiotherapy can help to strengthen muscles and reduce pain.
If you have any lingering niggles in your shoulder after the 18th hole, it's wise to see an expert in orthopaedics. A shoulder arthroscopy is a quick way for a consultant surgeon to check what the issue might be and can even be used to treat the problem at the same time. If you’re experiencing any kind of joint problems you can follow our advice for managing pain effectively.
10. You'll sleep well
Using energy is tiring, no matter which kind of exercise you do. A day on the fairway will have you ready to hit the hay.
Golf's effect on your sleep quality in turn makes you a better golfer. Some studies have shown that sleeping better will eventually lower your handicap10. Golfers who had trouble sleeping, for reasons such as sleep apnoea, discovered that their game improved once they could get a full night's rest.
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