Football season is well under way and even though summer is winding down, cookouts are still going strong. Inevitably there will be beer, burgers, and conversations about sports. And the same people who love football often tend to be avid golfers. So, the question is bound to come up. Is golf a sport and are golfers athletes?
Obviously there are two camps when it comes to this question. There are those that say yes and point to Tiger and his fitness regime and there are others who point out Kevin Stadler and Jason Dufner and then just rest their case.
I’d like to go on the record with the definitive opinion on this topic — “I don’t know.” Now before you say I must choose, let me say I can see this controversy from both sides. I have played golf with All-Star and Cy Young winning Major League pitcher Cliff Lee and NFL All-Pro kick returner Josh Cribbs. Their natural athletic abilities such as hand-eye coordination truly help them overcome not being frequent golfers, but it didn’t turn them into scratch golfers by any imagination.
On the other side, Kevin Stadler couldn’t beat a three-toed sloth in a 40-yard dash and yet he can carve a 240-yard three-wood into a nearly unreachable par five. Go figure.
There’s a magical talent to hitting a golf ball. The closest comparison to me is the art of hitting a baseball. It takes a technical correctness along with a certain athletic tempo. Hard to explain and even harder to do.
Of course the naysayers point out a fairly logical argument against golf being a sport. I call it the Tom Watson theory. Anytime golf is mentioned as being a sport someone will point at the 2009 British Open when Tom Watson, on the verge of turning 60 years old, contended for the championship right up to the very end.
They quickly point out that nowhere in sports do you see a 60-year-old man going toe-to-toe with athletes in their mid-twenties. To that I say, you’re right.
My conclusion is I don’t have a conclusion. Is golf more like baseball or is it more like bowling? You decide. I can tell you that no other sport, game, or whatever you want to call it, takes as much practice and discipline to improve. Other sports don’t call for use of a training tool like Golf With A Purpose. That in itself speaks volumes.