Sports Sports Opinion

Should We Recognize Golf as a Sport?

Almost everyone knows what a sport is. Maybe you play competitively and hope to do so moving forward. Maybe you played them for fun growing up. Or maybe you have just observed them being played. But what activities should actually be considered a sport? Should activities like golf be placed under this category? According to Merriam Webster, a sport is “a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other.” Under this definition, categorizing sports can be difficult and vague, and it is up to the individual interpretation of what should and should not count as one. 

Why We Should Not Recognize Golf as a Sport: Ethan Qi

While the line between what is a sport and what isn’t is quite unclear, numerous characteristics of golf make it more resemblant of a leisurely game than an actual competitive sport. First, golf requires practically no physical exertion. Determining the amount of physical exertion required to constitute a sport can be difficult, but the only activity golf players go through are periodically swinging their clubs and walking around the course while their caddies carry their bag. In E.S.P.N.’s ranking of sport difficulties, golf is rated 51 out of 60, having one of the lowest scores in the speed, agility, and nerve categories. Furthermore, in 2008, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open having torn ligaments in his left knee and suffering from a fracture in his leg. With golf having such a lack of physical exertion, the U.S. Open––one of the most prestigious and highly-regarded golf tournaments in the world––was won by a man persevering through excruciating pains. This is no knock on the skill of Woods—his talent is truly remarkable—but in what other major sport is a professional athlete able to succeed at such a high level while being significantly impaired below the waist? Second, professional golfers are able to compete and keep up with their opponents without thinking too much about their physical condition. John Daly, known for his ability to crush the ball beyond 300 yards, had a daily consumption of 40 cigarettes and 28 cans of Diet Coke. In an interview with Graham Bensinger, Daly said, “Wherever I set course records or whatever, I would be barefooted and drunk, playing golf making every 20-footer I looked at.” In no other major sport is this behavior permitted, let alone could a professional athlete still keep up with their sport whilst drunk and puffing about. Lastly, just because golf has a competitive aspect to it does not mean it is a sport. While sports typically are of competitive nature, defining one solely by its competition is not completely accurate. Using this definition, games such as tic-tac-toe and rock-paper-scissors would both be considered sports––they are both competitive and require skill, but little to no physical exertion is necessary. Considering all of these factors, in my opinion, golf is just a casual game that has been glorified as a sport through big-money tournaments and shiny trophies.

Why We Should Recognize Golf as a Sport: Jack Rogus

On the contrary, making the claim that golf is not a sport based on the lower physical requirement is quite subjective. Because different people may need to exert themselves more or less than others, putting constants on the amount of physical strength or technical skill for a certain sport does not hold true for many players. Furthermore, the line that is drawn for what is and is not a sport can be blurry and often arbitrary. If one were to say that golf is not a sport, what would exactly constitute a sport? Would an activity like bowling or darts not be sports either based on the same premise? Also, where does the model example of a sport even come from? Some may believe that physical exertion has more weight than skill while others may think the opposite. Many may believe that it is neither and should have an equal balance of both. The point is, who decides the point where all sports are judged from? Granted, logic like this allows many activities like thumb wars to be considered sports, however, it is simpler to allow most activities to fall under this category of sports than to attempt at finding an arbitrary cut-off point. Many activities can be considered a sport and contain varying levels of physical intensity much like comparing curling and football. Returning to the definition, aside from physical and mental prowess, the spirit of competition is just as important. Activities such as golf not only require both strength and mental skill but also have a large following and prestigious competitions. Once again, me trying to say that a certain level of competition and viewership can be used as an argument for defining a sport is ambiguous much like the line between mental and physical skill. Therefore, I will make the claim that any activity consisting of mental and physical prowess alongside a form of competition should be recognized as a sport, but it is up to each individual to draw their own line. That is why I believe golf is a sport. 

At the end of the day, the question of whether or not golf is a sport is merely up to your own interpretation of what constitutes a sport. Is a sport more technical and skill-focused, or should it require intense physical activity? There are certainly two sides to the matter, both of which interpret the definition in a different way. Regardless, since its recognition as a sport in 1744 and introduction to the Olympics in 1900, golf has been enjoyed by many and will continue to be recognized officially by the International Olympic Committee as a sport.