Have you ever been curious about the game of golf or wondered why so many people spend their time trying to hit a little ball into a hole so far away?  Or maybe you don't play because, "Golf is not a real sport!"  Well has anyone told you about the mental aspects of golf and physical endurance that is required to play at a high level?  Not to mention the health, social, aesthetic, and competitive benefits that golf has to offer.

Golf for the health of it!

One of the best things and a great beneficial by-product of playing the game of golf is the exercise that you will receive. Walking a golf course from hole to hole, and tee to green is approximately 5 miles. There are basically two types of overall exercise categories. Those categories are moderate and vigorous. Golf can be considered as a moderate type of workout activity. 

Golfers who walk 36 holes per week will burn approximately 2,900 calories per week!  It has been shown that burning 2,500 calories per week improves your overall health by lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  A person, who weighs between 150-200 pounds, will burn between 2,000 to 2,700 calories by walking an 18-hole golf course. You must burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound.

A Sport for the Ages

Another benefit of playing golf is the friendships and interactions that are developed on the golf course. Generally, golfers team up in pairs or play their golf game with three other individuals. This foursome provides an excellent opportunity for individuals to interact with each. Golf is possibly the only sport that can bridge generations by allowing a foursome of golfers to include four generations all competing against one another on equal ground via the handicap system.  This interaction is usually highlighted through the telling of jokes, the sharing of stories, conducting business, getting to know each other in an informal setting, etc. All of this is conducted in a non-threatening, but competitive environment. This type of interaction will prove to be therapeutic as well as an opportunity to bond with other individuals.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Golf provides you the opportunity to walk on some beautifully manicured properties and take in all of the natural surroundings. On a golf course you can start to really take in the beautiful scenery that surrounds you, plus breathe in the fresh air while having time to think and clear your mind.  While playing golf you have the ability to witness all of the beauty that Mother Nature affords us.  Wildlife abounds on most golf courses and you can witness the many marvelous creatures as you stroll the fairways in a serene environment while just enjoying the day or deep in thought. 

Walking the golf course can give you a chance to start to focus on some of the simple things in life. Golf provides an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. It gives you time to reflect on what is really important. It allows you to shed all of the stress that you may harbor from your workplace or in other stressful environments. Some of the stress could be from work or can even be problems that you're facing at home.  Being outside and enjoying the game of golf is an ideal way to relax and recharge.

Even though the game can provide its own challenges you can really reflect on what is important to you. Walking the beautiful green grass, enjoying the surrounding environment, breathing in the fresh air, allows a person to clear the mind.

Competitive Spirit

If you are a competitive person then the game of golf could be for you. Golf is about improving your skills and beating par. The competitive person will always want to add some distance to their tee shots, try to have fewer strokes during a round and always chasing a hole in one. The game of golf definitely fulfills the needs of a competitive person.  You do not always need an opponent to compete in golf as you can set personal goals for yourself and these goals can be different for each golf course you encounter.  The beauty about golf, and maybe a fascination, is that no matter how well you play there is almost always a shot that you left on the course that would have made your score that much better!

Written by:  
Josh Heptig, Golf Superintendent
County of San Luis Obispo Parks and Golf