TEE IT HIGH, LET IT FLY
10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD PLAY
Golf is a club and ball sport in which players use various clubs to hit a ball into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible. Isn’t that simple? Not quite! As Gary Player, indisputably the greatest golfer of all time himself put it “Golf is a puzzle without an answer. I’ve played the game for 50 years and I still haven’t the slightest idea of how to play”. Arguably, there is no other game that offers so many inconsistencies. For one, a golf course does not have a standardized playing area like other ball games. In fact, no two golf courses are alike. It is also a game in which external factors like season, weather conditions, wind, type of ground surface to name just a few have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. To the undiscerning, golf is a faux sport that only the old, obese and physically unfit people enjoy while drinking beer and riding in a cart, pausing only long enough to occasionally hit a wayward shot. Even Mark Twain is reported to have described the game of golf as “a good walk spoiled “. Nothing can be further from the truth as I found out after my own initiation into the game.
Golf is a $76 billion industry that has created 2 million jobs and raises $3.5 billion for charity alone each year. Played by 55 million players in 206 countries, it was not surprising for it to be re-introduced as a sport in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro after a gap of 112 years. Unlike a majority of other sports involving physical activity, Golf can be played by men and women across their life course. The benefits of playing golf are so huge that it is being recommended by doctors for patients with different life threatening ailments. So here are at least 10 reasons why you can and should take up golf immediately:-
1. Live longer
It is said that physical inactivity is a determinant of excess mortality. A Swedish study has, in its findings concluded that a golfer suffers 40% less mortality as compared to a non golfer. This corresponds to a 5 year increase in the life expectancy of a golfer. One does not have to be a doctor to infer that any form of physical exercise helps get the blood pumping to your heart. Walking, carrying your bag and swinging the club during a round of golf all increase your heart rate and blood flow. Your risk of a stroke and diabetes are reduced, and there can be positive effects on reducing blood pressure and harmful cholesterol.
2. Lose weight
Physical activity represents an important part of any weightloss or weight-maintenance effort. The calories that you burn with golf can help you reach a state of caloric deficit forcing your body to burn stored fat for energy. A typical golf course can measure up to 7000 yards. Playing a round of 18 holes means walking about 4-5 miles and burning about 1500 calories. Plus the fact that you will be playing with others in a competitive mode easily beats the drab routine of any other walking exercise.
3.Soak in Vitamin D
Today’s lifestyle has meant more time spent locked in office buildings leading to the deficiency of the vital Vitamin D which is reaching epic proportions. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce your risk of cancer, help your bone maintain appropriate calcium levels, boost your immune system, prevent or reduce chronic diseases, improve your mood and much more. When you golf, you get plenty of this wonder Vitamin absolutely free.
4. Beat Stress
Golf is a great way to shake off the stress of a demanding lifestyle. Being outdoors and soaking in the fresh air and the greenery keeps you happy and relaxed. Further, exercise and fresh air are a powerful combination for improved sleep. Golf is as much a mental game as it is a physical game. The required concentration as you set up for your next shot and consequently the target can send blood rushing to your brain just as much in walking. And then there is always the post mortem of your game to be carried out in your mind before you fall asleep instead of thinking about your day at work and worrying yourself to a sleepless night. As a famous golf adage goes “My worst day on the golf course still beats my best day at work”. Over the years, many celebrities have claimed to credit the game with helping them kick serious addictions such as quitting cocaine, alcoholism and drugs. The swimming giants Michael Phelps and Grant Hackett, who have had their share of problems with the law, are seriously into golf of late. A golf game has that therapeutic effect on people.
5. Anyone can play
I started golf at the age of 54 and am proud to say that I am a single handicapper which means I am in the 5% category of golfers in the world who complete the course in below 80 strokes. As in every other aspect of good living, it is advisable to start golf early, but being the kind of game that it is, age is no bar to start the game and to do well at it. Golf is classified in the category of ‘moderate intensity’ as far as physical activity is concerned and hence is recommended for children, adults and older adults alike for longevity, physical and mental health benefits.
6. Lasting friendships
Golf is the perfect venue to make new friendships and strengthen old ones. Whether it is a tournament, where you are grouped with three strangers or when you just amble in to the golf course for a round and are clubbed with three others whom you have never met, it is well nigh impossible to play without talking to the others. So friendships blossom, businesses are identified – many a time to mutual benefit – and these can last a lifetime. Catching up with an old friend who has come visiting can be an awesome experience over a round of golf. A majority of the best friends I have in my life are golfers.
7. Challenges you to different situations
Playing a round of golf over 18 holes is a challenge on every single occasion that you play, be it on the same golf course or on a different one each time. The course conditions itself vary from day to day, season to season and add to that the wind conditions, positions of the flags on the green etc. Golf can also be played in the rain like soccer. Another major challenge is your own state of mind before the game. As someone famously said “Whoever said ‘Practice makes perfect’ obviously never played golf” just to drive home the point that every round of golf is different.
8. Enjoy Nature
When you play golf, you don’t have only people as your playing partners. You will have foxes, deer, rabbits, turtles, squirrels, owls, heron, egrets, eagles, hawks, fish, snakes of different varieties
and in some courses - crocodiles. Indian golfers are very ruefully familiar with the crow that is a constant ball-picking menace on the golf course mistaking it for a tasty hardboiled egg. It is also quite common for golf courses to be adorned with a variety of flowering trees that flower at different seasons of the year. So, all in all it is a visual treat for anyone playing a round of golf.
9. Great for business
One of the reasons that I was cajoled into taking up golf was that it was easier to extract important and ‘favourable’ decisions from your boss while on the golf course rather than in a conference room or through an operational briefing. The golf environs coupled with a golfing challenge setting that the game itself provides, augurs well for a decision making process without too much explanation. As Mark Mccormack put it “All things being equal, people will do business with a friend; all things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend”. If you are in business or just need to make contacts, the golf course is the perfect place. There is plenty of time between shots or while waiting for the group in front of you to clear, to discuss your product or your service. There is also the very comfortable and cozy ambience of the Golf Clubhouse to take the discussion further.
10. Get to Travel
Golf offers a great excuse to travel to different places and play on different courses. No two golf courses are alike. It is also a good idea to take the family on vacation which is great for family bonding. Better still, get them to watch a golf tournament. Unlike other sports where the spectators are seated, in golf, the spectators walk along with the players. Golf is a growing sport all over the world including India. The astounding success of Aditi Ashok and Anirban Lahiri on the international golf scene is creating waves on the popularity of the game in India. Today, it is common to see young boys and girls swinging the clubs while being coached on the practice ranges of any golf course. Equally too, are the older folks trying to pick up the skills of the game from their coaches. The benefits of the game to your health and well being are well established. So what’s to stop you from picking up that club and swinging your way to good health?
As one avid golf player put it “I’ve spent most of my life playing golf. The rest of it I’ve just wasted!”. So go for it guys! Happy swinging!!