What are the first memories that you have of golf? If you started the game as a kid, they probably have to do with a family member – usually a parent – who introduced the game to you. Many golfers look back on those days with great fondness and nostalgia.
There is no better family sport than golf. Four family members can all play in the same group, something that is difficult to do in other sports. You can indeed do the same thing in tennis if you’re playing doubles, but unless the skill level is relatively similar among the four, it can make for a difficult time. Since golf, of course, doesn’t have other players affecting your playing of the game, it doesn’t matter if there is a skill disparity, even a great one, among those in the same group.
Golf also has an amount of down time that others sports do not offer. In tennis, there is constant action. In bowling, there is always someone rolling the ball down the lane. But in golf, most of the time is spent walking or riding to the next shot, so there is ample time for conversation and bonding. Some of the best friendships golfers have were formed on the golf course. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for golfers to have mainly or only golfers as friends.
The game also tends to lend itself to easy conversation that may not be found in other venues. Those who are parents know how tough it is sometimes to have conversations with their children as they get older, especially teenagers. But for some reason, conversation while playing golf seems to come naturally for most participants.
It has been said countless times that golf is also a metaphor for life. A well-known adageis that if you want to truly get to know a person’s character, play 18 holes of golf with them. It is the rare person who changes the character and behavior they exhibit outside the course once they step onto the first tee.
Life lessons can also be imparted to our younger family members as they play the game. Perhaps a child is having a tough time that day on the course and they feel like quitting. Teaching them to persevere on the course is a good lesson that can carry them through life. Let’s face it – although we say golf is fun, it’s also difficult to excel at. If someone wants to play scratch golf or better, they have to put in countless hours over countless days over countless years, unless they are some sort of athletic freak. Golf can teach our children the valuable life values of determination and perseverance, and keeping a calm mind when things go awry.
Although the game can understandably lend itself to temper tantrums and worse, we must always remember that unless the game directly affects our well-being as a professional golfer, it’s only a game to the rest of us. How we do doesn’t affect our lives in any way, shape, or form, and it’s important to keep this perspective. These are the things that our younger family members, and sometimes even ourselves, should take to heart.
Many golfers also take buddy trips specifically to play that golf course they always wanted to play. Our friends are not technically family, but they certainly are in terms of the bonds that we create and share with them, and there is nothing more natural than traveling with friends to hit the links.
One of the things that athletes in team sports say they miss once they retire is the camaraderie among their teammates. A family atmosphere can certainly be created in such an environment. But although golf is an individual sport, the family atmosphere most certainly is prevalent among members of the men’s or ladies’ golf associations at many clubs, or even among a regular Saturday foursome. Other individual sports have a more difficult time duplicating that sense of belonging to a family.
Golf has given all of us who love the game a lot, and for that we are grateful. But aside from the actual playing of the game itself, perhaps the most enduring memory we will have once our playing days are done is the family ties that are created, regardless if we are related or not.