Golf: The Best Sport

Golf is a beautiful game, and if you’re on the Golfing Fanatics website right now, chances are that you are as much in love with this grand and ancient game as you were when you started playing. We’re all here, joined together out of our shared love for golf, and in this spirit, I would like to point out several reasons why I love golf, and why I consider it to be a game of gentlemen (and ladies), in comparison to the recent troubles that have visited other sports, which seems to be par for the course these days. Yuk yuk…

  1. Golf is a game of manners and sportsmanship, where fair play rules the day. When Eastern Michigan’s football team played the Gators in Gainesville, FL, in Week 2 of the 2014 College Football season, they were an overmatched underdog. One of the worst teams in college football last year, they showed
    (Don’t let him fool you…he’s just ducking me.)

    (Don’t let him fool you…he’s just ducking me.)

    during the game that this year might not be much better, losing to the Gators, 65-0 (and we all know how disappointing the Gators have been thus far only four games into this new season). When the game was played, though, EMU’s players didn’t get five downs to go ten yards, or get to play on a shortened field. Everything was even, except for the talent level. Likewise, in the recent FIBA World Cup in basketball, Team USA dominated; would it have been fair for the smaller teams to utilize a shorter hoop, or a longer shot clock? Yet, in golf, thanks to the handicap system, any player can have a fighting chance in any match against a far superior opponent. I mean, if my buddy Tiger Woods called me tomorrow and wanted to play, we could have an even match by adjusting our scores based on our documented skill level. We could even make in-match adjustments to further the competitive quality of the match, like an in-the-air press or swinging one-armed.

  2. Golfers adhere to the rules of the game so much, they will call penalties on themselves! Take the case of young Jason Millard, who qualified for a coveted spot in this summer’s U.S. Open, only to disqualify himself from competition ON THE WAY TO PINEHURST because he may have grounded his club in a bunker during his qualifying round…even though no one else saw anything (see the story here: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/u-open-qualifier-calls-penalty-230325409–golf.html). Can you imagine this happening during a major league baseball game (“I really need to tell you, Blue, that I was out at 3rd base there.”), or in the closing seconds of a football game? “I say, my good man, it is obvious that we were delayed in starting the play. We refuse to count the touchdown we just scored. Instead, it will now be 4th & 12. All in the name of sportsmanship, my friend.”
  3. Football and baseball games are now played indoors in some locales in order to escape the weather. In golf, we EMBRACE the weather conditions! No wonder the game is Scottish in origin…those people are nuts. Anyone that eats a boiled sheep stomach filled with the sheep’s offal, you kind of have to wonder about.

None of this is to say that the golf world doesn’t occasionally have its own scandals. Dustin Johnson, one of the better-known American players, recused himself from playing in this year’s PGA Championship and Ryder Cup due to some “personal issues” that needed to be addressed. Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia were recently seen mocking Rory’s former fiancé, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, after she got her hair caught in her racket during the Women’s US Open final match. Before that, Rory even committed the awful sin of musing out loud about Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods being “in the final holes of their careers” (this Rory kid, he’s trouble!!). A couple of years ago, Senior Tour player (and three-time major winner) Vijay Singh admitted to using deer antler spray to recover from his marathon practice sessions; however, unlike baseball players knowingly breaking the rules by taking PEDs while denying it, Vijay admitted freely to using deer antler spray because he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. Of course, we had Tiger’s famous Thanksgiving run-in with his ex-wife almost five years ago, but Tiger didn’t hit her; she went after him (with a five-iron) after finding out the real reason behind all of his Waffle House visits. Even before that, there was the gamesmanship between Rory and Billy Ho during the 2007 Walker Cup matches, but neither has held a grudge, and both seem to get along just fine now (http://www.pgatour.com/tour-insider/2014/09/10/rory-mcilroy-billy-horschel-past-issues-tour-championship.html).

Maybe golf is without scandal on a level with other sports because golfers don’t consider themselves bigger than the game, or because the media doesn’t view golf under the same microscope with which other sports are viewed. Whatever the reason, it’s good to know that I can watch golf tournaments on TV with my kids and not have to explain why Player X is suspended, or be worried about what they might see or hear…until the commercial break comes up and the Viagra ad appears.

In golf, hope springs eternal. No matter how bad your last round was, all is forgotten when it’s time to tee it up again. My hope is that you continue to love golf, and nurture that love with time spent outside enjoying nature, relishing the good shots when they happen and forgetting the bad shots as soon as they leave the clubface. Golf can be cruel at times, but no other game can give you as much as our game.

 

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Born and raised on the stretch of Interstate 4 that connects Tampa Bay to Disney World, Scott Fields grew up around Central Florida golf courses. A former competitive player and University of Florida alum, he now lives with his wife and two sons in the North Dallas/Fort Worth area, where he still enjoys an occasional round (with cigar and beer) when it’s not college football season. He is even more passionate about the game now than he ever was. Check out more about Scott on his blog Grits and Golf.

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