Top 5 Things In Golf We’re Thankful For
By Bryan McCallen
What do you appreciate most about this game we all love so much? The challenge? The competition? The time spent with friends? Golf has so many various and wonderful qualities that enrich our lives that we wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge and pay tribute to some of them. Hopefully, this Thanksgiving you’ll be fortunate enough to work up a good appetite during a round with close family and friends and then enjoy a bountiful feast with them. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.
1. Code of Honor
Think about it. In what other sport do players call rules infractions on themselves? In most team sports, an advantage is gained by a crafty player who can break or bend the rules and get away with it. Not so in golf. It is the duty of every golfer to play by the rules. The game adheres to a strict code of self-policing found in no other sport. In golf, the only person a cheater beats is himself. The famous quote by the immortal Bobby Jones is relevant here. When he was applauded for calling a penalty on himself, Jones replied, “You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”
Along with the exquisite sensation of hitting a ball directly on the club’s sweet spot, the game’s fraternal aspects, and the friendships it nurtures, is a big part of its enduring appeal. Rare is the player who chooses to go it alone. The game is played in the company of others, preferably a foursome. Complimenting the good shots of fellow players, and expecting to be complimented in return, is a big part of the game. Golf is a solo pursuit—there are no teammates—but the round was meant to be shared with friends, family members, even newcomers. Perhaps because the struggle is so great, and the prize so elusive, relationships forged by golf tend to last a lifetime.
3. Game for a Lifetime
All it takes to play a decent game of golf later into life is enough hand-eye coordination to knock the head off a daisy with a walking stick. OK, there’s a little more to it than that, but today’s high-tech equipment enables players on the back nine of life to have fun playing a sport that renews itself with each round. The enjoyment, from solid drives and crisp irons to lofted wedges and clutch putts, is always fresh and new. The challenge never stales. As in life, there’s always room for improvement.
Golf is really two games. There’s the game you play within yourself: shutting off the chattering mind, focusing on the target, enacting the pre-shot routine, relying on ingrained fundamentals, and muscle-memory to execute the shot. Or not. In essence, golfers compete against themselves to do better than they did before. There’s also the game a golfer plays against an opponent, as in match play; or against a field of players, as in medal or stroke play. The handicap system levels the playing field for everyone. Strokes or no strokes, everyone wants to play his or her best and emerge victorious. Listen to a tour pro or ranked amateur who’s been out of commission. What they miss most about golf is the competition.
Anyone who grew up with persimmon woods, forged irons, and balata balls knows that technology has made the game easier and more forgiving. An off-center hit with a cavity-back iron or oversized composite-head driver delivers a far different result than the clubs used by previous generations. In addition, today’s club-fitting systems enable players to get the set that’s just right for them. Spikeless golf shoes are more comfortable (and more waterproof). Moisture-wicking and sun-protection fabrics and other advances in performance apparel have improved the clothes golfers wear. (Bobby Jones looked great in his wool knickers, white dress shirt, and necktie, but can you imagine donning that garb on a hot summer day?). Finally, advances in agronomy and maintenance equipment have vastly improved the fields of play.
Even though golf is a solo pursuit—there are no teammates—the round was meant to be shared with friends, family members, even newcomers. Go enjoy the company!
Making an Impact
The game of golf raises more money for charitable causes than the NFL, NHL, MLB, and NBA combined. According to a study conducted by the National Golf Foundation. Golf’s charitable impact in 2011 was $3.9 billion. This includes 143,000 events at 12,000 golf facilities (or 75 percent of the U.S. total). More than 12 million participants helped to raise an average of $26,300 per function. Nice job everyone!
In Another’s Words
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return.”
– Ralph Marston (Former NFL Player)