The Competitive Nature of Golf

Golf is one of the most demanding sports both mentally and physically. The game takes a toll on you physically which shows over time. The best players spend almost as much time in the gym as they do on the course. Golf can be connected to Eric Dunning’s “Dynamics of Modern Sport” because PGA Tour players are sacrificing a majority of their leisure time to become the best at their sport. In relation to Dunning’s philosophy; as PGA players become more competitive, their professionalism increases and amateur ethos becomes prevalent.

In golf, there are many amateur players who compete in various tournaments to qualify for the professional level. It requires a great support team, which usually includes a coach and a caddy. Players like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have made it successfully to the professional level, but just like everyone else, they started as amateurs. They are some of the most diligent and hard working professional athletes — oftentimes practice and tournaments will take precedence over family  and friends. They realized that in order to have a competitive nature come naturally, they needed to train effectively. This idea of competitive nature is brought up in the Dunning argument when he states “that sport is becoming indistinguishable from work”. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy would have to disagree heavily with this statement. These players are often seen doing many fun activities such as yachting, racing exotic cars, and building lavish homes; which would contradict Dunning’s point.


Tiger Woods playing in a golf tournament

On the PGA (Professional Golf Association) Tour, golfers are on strict regimes just like in any other professional sport. They spend hours a day honing their strengths and improving their weaknesses. They walk countless miles to make all the necessary course management preparations before a competition. They travel a great amount of time which leads to minimal time spent with their family. PGA Tour players usually all have a coach that assists them in the mental and physical processes of the game. When PGA players sign up for a tournament, it is a 6 or 7 day commitment. Players usually arrive on Monday and play practice rounds Tuesday and Wednesday. Once Thursday hits, they have 4 straight days of competitive golf, which lasts about 4-5 hours a day. In addition, they usually spend 2-3 hours hitting golf balls once their round is complete. Most of these points exemplify Dunning’s viewpoint about having an increase in competitive nature.

Most players may go 2-3 months before returning home. It is hard to imagine a commitment like that for a sport, but it’s a sacrifice that is made when making a transition from amateurism to professionalism. During the offseason, PGA players work just as hard to make sure that their games will be at the same level for the following season as where they left off in the previous season. For many, there is no true “off-season”.  Additionally, when they are not working on their game, they are either participating in philanthropy or shooting commercials for various golf brands. In essence, Dunning makes it clear that when you compete at a high level such as the PGA Tour, your choice is second to that of your profession.



  1. pburt117 · November 10, 2014

    This was an interesting post. This is the first I have heard about what golfers have to do to stay in shape and to become elite. I agree that it is usually seen as a game and not a sport, but perhaps if more people saw this then they would recognize the athletic ability that goes into golf. I still do not think it is as grueling as many other sports, but it still has some athletic effort to it. This post helps dispel some preconceived notions I had regarding golf.


  2. shenwick · November 11, 2014

    I loved to see an article about golfing, as golf is my favorite sport. I played competitive golf during my high school years and completely agree that it is a sport. I spent countless hours practicing my craft and agree that the golf swing uses most parts of the body to swing the club. I also experienced an injury to wrists from golf. Merriam Webster says that 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”, which is exactly what golf is.


  3. lauraucros · November 11, 2014

    I have been guilty of undervaluing golf. My dad is a big golf fan and when he invites me to play with him I usually respond “no dad, I still know how to run”. Nevertheless, your blog post opened my eyes in a way. I had never thought of all the amount of work professional golfers put into the sport, and it is very wrong to underestimate their efforts.
    I wish you would have expanded more on the mental toughness necessary to play golf; I think this is the biggest and hardest aspect of the sport that often goes unnoticed. People make fun of golf because there are professional golfers in their 40’s who are not exactly fit when you compare them to the average athlete in other sports. But, this golfers have a unique amount of patience, precision, ability to make exact decisions under pressure, etc… that people in general (myself included) don’t take into account when we think about the sport. Yeah, football players are tougher, stronger and faster. They also have I don’t even know how many coaches thinking about tactics and the next play. On the other hand, golfers may not seem as athletic as other athletes but they have a huge mental ability. Your post made me question why we think more of the physical aspects of athletics instead of the mental ones. And, they are both equally important.


  4. rconybeare · November 12, 2014

    I play golf, and completely agree that it is a sport. But as with others, I have been told that it is more of a hobby. I think that this comes from the stereotype of what golfers used to look like. Before Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson, many of the most famous golfers were older men who were not in great shape. But now, professional golfers consistently train. I think that if the general public were to know this, they would view golf differently.


Comments are closed.