By Abbey Algiers
When I was in high school and told adults that I was on the golf team, I always got the same reactions. First, they’d be surprised. Golf? Really? Then, they’d have one of two responses. They’d either tell me that they golfed too (and look at me with approval), or they’d say they wished they had learned to play when they were younger (and look a little envious of me). As a teenager, I never really “got” what the big deal was about golf, or why my being on the team seemed so unusual and heroic. Yes, I knew golf wasn’t the mainstream choice for a girl’s sport, but I didn’t understand why adults thought it was so great.
Now, years later and an adult myself, I get it. You see, the thing about golf is that it’s more than a sport. Golf is like a mini course in character development mixed with lessons in athleticism, skill, and strategy. It’s a sport that requires dedication and character, a duo of traits that translate loosely to mean “impressive person alert.”
To be sure, golf is a game of skill and strategy, and requires the golfer to practice and fine-tune her sport. Yet, in the process of doing so, golf is a game that tests one’s character almost every step of the way. With golf, one has the opportunity to shine and impress every round. It’s not based on drive distance or the number of 15-foot putts. Golf offers a thousand different opportunities to show good character on the course.
Let’s start with good sportsmanship. Golf is the ultimate display of character when things go well (being a good winner) or when things don’t go so well (hitting bad shots). Having good sportsmanship means a that a golfer congratulates another golfer when appropriate, and knows when to be silent or offer encouragement during rough times.
While we’re being polite, let’s not forget about the many opportunities to show good etiquette on the course. As one learns to golf, he or she comes to realize that the foundation of golf is built upon respect for other players and respect for the game in general. There is a protocol for golf, and golfers quickly learn how to carry themselves around the tee, in the fairway, on the green, and every place in between. This etiquette and behavior has been known to transfer to daily life, which is just one of the reasons adults like young golfers.
Speed of play and efficiency are two other important considerations that golfers take into account. The well-trained golfer realizes that her actions affect other golfers. If she dawdles between shots, this both bothers the group she’s with, and has the potential to back up play and affect many golfers.
The bottom line is, there are countless circumstances that call for good character on the golf course. Because of this, the simple act of signing on to a sport that asks us to be conscientious people says something about who we are. So, remember that whatever your score may be on the course and however you hit that drive or fairway shot… you are amazing because you are a golfer. Be proud of the fact you chose this great sport and know that it is shaping you as an admirable person!