There are many different sports that test our various abilities, but none can match golf as a test of every aspect of our being. What backs up such an unqualified statement? Why, the facts of course.
Name another sport to which the following all apply:
-It requires a full athletic movement. A proper tee shot with a driver, going for distance, requires the strength, coordination and timing of a serve in tennis, or a pitcher throwing a fastball in baseball.
-Within minutes of this full athletic movement, it asks for precise use of the fine muscles of the body and total breath control in the form of a downhill five foot putt that breaks anywhere from three to ten inches, depending on how softly you make contact
-It can be played at the very highest level among the best in the world, at ages ranging from early teens to late fifties – witness Tom Watson’s playoff loss in the biggest tournament in the world a few years ago at age 59 (The Open Championship, also known as the British Open) and then witness last week’s US Open, in which a 14 year old qualified for the tournament and a 17 year old was in contention until the final day
-It can be a perfect reflection of one’s natural athletic instincts, combined with dogged trial and error practice (totally self -taught in other words) with results that match those who have taken thousands of hours of lessons. Bubba Watson is the best known recent example of this, having won the Masters this spring and never having had a lesson. Canadian golfers will of course remember the totally individualistic Moe Norman, who Tiger Woods included with Ben Hogan as the only two golfers who really “owned” their golf swings.
So next time you hear someone who has never seriously tried this most perfect of ‘ball and stick’ games refer to it as something less than a true sport, straighten them out. Speaking of ‘straight’ they say that the hardest shot in golf is to hit the ball straight. But you probably knew that already. Play within yourself and play well!