Is Golf a Sport? Understanding the Athleticism and Competition in Golf

Is golf a sport?

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Golf is a game that people of all ages have enjoyed for centuries. But is golf a sport? This question often comes across players, fans, and viewers. This debate is because many people thought sports were games that require high action and intense muscularity. But what about the games that require less activity, can be played leisurely, and involve low physical contact? That’s why many argue that golf doesn’t require the same physical effort as other sports. Hence it is a game, not a sport.

But let me tell you that this is a false assumption, and golf is a sport by every means. Because golf is a game that requires a great deal of skill and precision, and it certainly involves competition and physical activity. Golfers require both mental and physical skills to conquer this game. A player burns nearly 380 calories per hour while playing golf without a cart and often suffers from physical injuries.

In this article, we’ll explore whether golf is a sport, its history, its competitive nature, and its recognition in various contexts. By the end, I hope you will get a clear idea of whether golf is a sport.

Is golf a sport or a game?

Both games and sports are very similar and have blurred boundaries between them. So, distinguishing between games and sports is challenging.

According to the definition of game and sport from Britannica. “Game is a physical or mental activity that has rules and that people do for pleasure.” On the other hand, “A sport is a game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other.”

In short, a sport is a game in which people compete physically with a set of rules.

In contrast to this definition, golf

  • has a specific set of rules.
  • Players compete against each other.
  • Involve physical efforts.

Hence this proves that golf is a sport, not a game.

History of Golf

Nobody knows where golf came from, but it’s been played in some form for a long time. The version we know today is thought to have started in Scotland back in the 13th century. Even though the king tried to ban it in 1457 (he thought it interfered with military training), people kept playing. By the 16th century, golf was a popular pastime for all sorts of folks, from the fancy rich to the regular.

Then in 1744, they held the first recorded golf tournament in Edinburgh, Scotland. A local surgeon named John Rattray won, and that was just the beginning of people competing against each other in golf. As the years went on, more and more people got into golf, and in 1860, they held the first Open Championship (which we now call The Open) at the Prestwick Golf Club. Willie Park Sr. won that one and won it four more times!

Today, golf is played all over the world by millions of people. According to Statista, 25 million people play golf in the US in 2022, and the market will reach 27.24 billion us dollars. Big tournaments like the Masters, the US Open, and the PGA Championship are popular and watched by many people on TV.

Arguments For Golf Being a Sports:

1-Golf Fulfil the requirement of a sport:

According to the definition, a sport requires.

  • Physical activity
  • Competition
  • Skill
  • Set of rules

Golf fulfils all these requirements.

2-Physical skills require in golf:

Golf is often considered a low-impact sport, as it is not as physically demanding as other sports. But it still requires a combination of physical fitness and skill to play. Golf is a long game, and players may need to walk several kilometres while playing. So, on average, a player burns about 380 calories per hour without using a cart. Hence, good endurance is necessary to maintain focus and performance throughout the game.

Furthermore, due to the fitness level, golf requires several players to get injured during the game. According to some reports, about 70 to 80% of players get injured in golf. This shows the level of fitness that you require in golf.

Lastly, golfers require certain strength, as in some other sports. You need strength in your upper body, core, and legs to execute powerful and accurate swings.

3-Competition in Golf:

Golf is a sport where You will not only compete with other players but also with yourself. Which is what many other sports are all about. It is a highly competitive game where you must overcome the golf course and weather conditions. The game is played individually or in teams, and players compete against each other to achieve the lowest score. Golf competitions are held at various levels, including local, regional, national, and international.

Several tournaments and tours are held worldwide where players compete to showcase their skills and gain recognition. The two most famous golf tours are the PGA Tour in the United States and the European Tour, which includes players from USA, Europe, Asia, and Africa. At the same time, some of the most honoured and biggest competitions in golf are the Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship (commonly referred to as the British Open), and the PGA Championship. These tournaments are held annually and are highly anticipated by players and fans.

4-Athletic skill requires in golf:

Golf is not as physically demanding as other sports like football and basketball. But you sure need to have excellent Athletic skills to excel in the game. Golf requires many athletic skills like body flexibility, strength, and balance. The same skills are also needed for other sports too. You must acquire all the skill sets to become a good golfer. On the other hand, if you are a pro golfer, you need to be persistent. Below are some skills needed in the golf game.

Hand-eye coordination: Hand-eye coordination is surely one of the most important skills required in Golf. You need to be able to judge the distance and direction of the ball and the trajectory and speed of their swings.

Balance and stability: Golf requires a high level of balance and stability. Golfers must maintain balance throughout their swing and keep their bodies stable while touching the ball.

Flexibility: Golfers need to have a high degree of flexibility to achieve a full range of motion during their swings. Good flexibility can also help prevent injuries and allow golfers to play for longer periods without experiencing fatigue.

Timing: Golf is a game of timing and rhythm. Golfers must time their swings correctly to make good contact with the ball and achieve maximum distance and accuracy. Developing a consistent swing tempo and rhythm is essential for success in golf.

5-Golfs Addition to Olympics

After a long-awaited time of 112 years, Golf was included in the Olympics as a sport in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This addition of golf to the Olympics further enforced its recognition as a global sport and was a significant development.

This addition of golf in the Olympics benefits the sport in many ways.

  • Firstly, it gives opportunities for the golfer to compete on a worldwide platform.
  • Secondly, it attracts a new audience from around the globe, particularly from those areas where golf is not well-established.
  • Lastly, it helps the game to be recognized worldwide and attract new sponsors, which helps the game to raise funding and use it in its development.
    However, some people criticize the addition of golf to the Olympics. They argue that golf is already a well-established sport and has its own world-renowned tournaments like Master, Open US, and Open Championship. So, it does not need to be included in the Olympics. But I don’t agree with this argument because the addition of golf to the Olympics raises new opportunities for the game.


Many people argue about golf being a sport because it is not as physically demanding as other sports like football and Hockey. But it requires high athletic ability, skill, and mental focus to succeed. A golfer cannot succeed in this game without strength, endurance, and balance. Adding golf to Olympic sports also proves that it is a sport. There are also several other golf tournaments where players and professional golfers compete with each other. Therefore, it is clear that golf is a competitive activity that requires a high level of athleticism, and it can be enjoyed both as a sport and a hobby.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is golf not a sport?

Many people think that golf is not a sport as you don’t need the same level of physical exertion as in some other sports. They also say that Golfers mostly rely on luck and there isn’t enough competition. Although golf is not that physically demanding, you still need to have a certain level of fitness and skills. In order to compete and excel in this game.

Is golf a sport in the Olympics?

The Olympics is the most famous sporting event on earth and includes many famous sports around the world. Finally, after 112 years of absence, golf was reintroduced into the Olympic sport in 2016. This proves that golf is a sport. Both men and women played in their individual tournaments.

What is golf?

Golf is a sport where players hit the ball into a hole by using golf clubs. The objective of golf is to complete each hole with as few strokes as possible. Normally Golf courses have 9 or 18 holes, and each hole has a tee box from which players start their shots. The less shot you take to complete the hole, the lower your score will be.

Is golf a sport or a hobby?

Golf is a sport where professional golfers compete against each other for significant prize money. Golf is also played in the Olympics and in some other renowned tournaments. However, many people don’t take golf seriously and play it for fun. For them, golf is a hobby. So, it depends upon you and how you pursue it.

From where does the Golf name originate?

It is unclear where the name golf came from, and there are several theories about its origins. The most famous theory says that the word "golf" comes from the Dutch word "kolf," which means "club," as Dutch sailors are thought to have introduced the game to Scotland in the 15th century.

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