The Luxury Collection - - Current Affairs - -By Cle­ment Sa­muel

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!!

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