By: Adam Atkins
I was like many kids growing up, full of energy and competitive drive. I loved basketball and soccer; the constant movement and constant action drew me in from a young age. I played soccer throughout high school, although never progressed to anything more than just your average player. It didn’t matter to me, I still loved the competition and being out on the “pitch” with my friends.
As children, most of us find a passion (sports for me) for something and continue to work at it. Most of us pour our early ages and youthful energy into this passion, only to be let down by the realization that you have a limit as to how far you can take this passion. Even more disappointing, after you move the tassel from the right to the left your athletic career ends. You slowly become less and less competitive in your sport until eventually you find other passions. Some become heavily involved in the work force and moving up the corporate ladder; others develop a strong affinity towards lawn care – you know who you are! Those that were competitive in high school try to find an outlet to pour their competitive desire into.
When I was younger I thought golf was absolutely ridiculous. It was slow, mind-numbingly boring, and just something my dad turned on when he wanted to fall asleep. Nonetheless, he constantly pushed me to play and even had me try a mini-camp for two weeks during the summer. However, it wasn’t until I had graduated college and began working that I actually thought about trying golf. It was then and only then that I truly fell in love with the game. I saw golf for what it really was – a strategic conquest that required self-control, coordination, and a little bit of luck. Golf quickly became my activity of choice. I longed to play golf every chance I had – my only regret? Not listening to my dad and starting sooner.
I think about how good I could have been, or even just mediocre. I think about how hitting a shot the way it was intended feels and how it would be nice to experience it more often each round. I think how I want my kids to play golf and not wait until later on in life to enjoy the sport that I have embraced. I don’t want my children to make the same mistake and wait on something so special.
In all honesty, there is no downside to starting golf early. In fact, if I had someone that was more convincing than maybe I would have started earlier. Maybe I just needed a few reasons as to why playing golf is ultimately the better choice? Maybe you are in the same boat; trying to convince someone to take-up golf and you are in need of a few reasons why golf is always the better option. Throughout the next few weeks I will attempt to convince you, or provide reasons for you to use, that golf is the best option and should be started as soon as possible. Let’s delve into reason number one….
1. You actually have to be athletic to be good at golf.
Remember your childhood and how you thought golf was just a bunch of washed-up men (and women) who played golf because they weren’t good enough to compete in any other sport? Well, it is a much different game now. Golfers are athletes. Don’t believe me? Just look at the PGA tour…. If you want to be in the top fifty percent of the driving distance on the PGA Tour, you better be driving the ball close to 300 yards. Doesn’t sound that hard? Roughly 20 years ago, all you had to do was drive the ball 270 yards. If you go back 20 more years you are looking at 250 yards as the tour average. Sure, some of that is due to technology and advancements in equipment – but I haven’t read anything lately about how the human body develops differently than those 40 years ago. Strength and technique (both key elements in athleticism) are being used to hit the ball further than ever before.
Golf is no longer your grandfather’s game – it takes a rare form of strength, flexibility, and technique to blast the ball into the far regions of the earth. Take Bryson DeChambeau for example (I know, I know)…. BDC hits his drive over 320 yards fifty-seven percent of the time; that percentage is only going to rise. He does it his newly formed body and absolutely ridiculous club head speed. If you want to stay competitive you better find a way to either bulk/speed up or you are going to get left in the dust.
However, it isn’t all about ridiculous length off the tee, you have to take advantage of that length. The amount of touch that is needed to control a golf ball from 100 yards out (or closer) and leave yourself with a makeable birdie putt is the unfathomably frustrating part about the game. It takes a true athlete to convert a 315 yard bomb into a 5-foot birdie putt. If you question the difficulty of the amount of athleticism needed to throw a dart onto the green – go out to your local course, stand 50 yards away from the green and attempt to actually throw a golf ball close to the hole. If I was a betting man, I would say you will be lucky to have 1 or 2 stay within a “5 foot basket” of the flagstick. Now imagine trying to do that with a club – the difficulty level is tenfold. Today’s top golfers not only possess the power to hammer a drive 300+ yards, but also the touch it takes to drop a golf ball on a dime!
Golf is now on the trajectory that many other sports have been on for more than a few years: Athleticism is becoming a must have in the sport. It is similar to when Michael Jordan decided to add muscle and weight to his frame in order to handle the beatdown tactics taken by opponents. Working out became cool in basketball – especially after MJ used that body to dominate the league for the ensuing decade. Tiger Woods was one of the first to make working out cool in golf. Woods was known to have a bench press of over 300 pounds and it was common to see him in the gym on the morning of a big tournament. Even more important than the workouts – Tiger Woods made athletic golf cool.
How many of you have seen the movie “Pay it Forward?” The film features Haley Jo Osment and his idea of people paying forward an act of kindness. In the movie HJO starts a trend that has one person help out three other people with a random act of kindness. Those three people then each help out three other people, who each help out three other people, and so on and so on. Essentially, 1 person helps out 3 people, who in turn help out 9 people, who help out 27 people, who help out 81 people – in his own words, “It gets big real fast!”
Golf is currently in the “Pay it Forward” movement. Tiger Woods was cool and kids saw him play golf so they played golf. Those kids grew up and are now playing golf (Spieth, JT, Koepka, etc.) Those golfers are being watched and soon those young kids will be playing golf. Eventually, and we are dangerously close, the PGA Tour is going to be filled with ridiculous athletes that pound the ball close to 400 yards with extreme accuracy and also have the delicate touch it takes to drop a wedge within tape-in range for a birdie.
So, the next time you are in an argument with someone and they say, “I don’t play golf because it isn’t an athletic sport!” kindly point them towards the workout regimen of those at the top end of the PGA Tour spectrum. Simply put, golf is no longer the boring, snooze-fest your dad put on TV to drown out his snoring. Golf is a sport where athletic prowess is quickly becoming a requirement rather than an advantage. And it should never be said that you don’t have to athletic to be good at golf – because you have to be athletic to be average at golf!
Be on the lookout for the next “Trust me, Just try Golf” article
Follow Adam on Twitter @Lousomumo254