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Is Golf Really a Good Walk Spoiled?

American novelist Harry Leon Wilson said in 1904 that ‘golf was a good walk spoiled’ and for the following 118 years, this has sentiment stuck. It should be pointed out that this is often said in jest as disgruntled and flustered players try to locate their ball after an errant shot. Indeed, when the round comes to an end and there is a chance to look back on the game in the cool of the evening within the comforts of the clubhouse, no-one genuinely thinks that walking is ruined by playing golf. In other words, the members will still make their tee times the next day regardless of whatever they’ve just shot or what is at the bottom of their golf bag.

But, of course, there is an argument to be made about how much you get out of golf when you’re playing badly. In essence, can you still be at peace with yourself when you’re seemingly only able to find the water and the trees instead of the fairways given that those days are always going to come? The truth is that playing poorly is an unavoidable reality of being a golfer and even if you look at the latest Masters odds, which provides a list of the globe’s best competitors, you will find multiple examples of players who went off the boil at some stage.

Take one of the favourites to win the 2022 edition of the Masters, Rory Mcllroy, who is at odds of 14/1 to claim the green jacket this year, and his infamous collapse during the 2011 Masters. At the time, the Northern Irishman ended up shooting an astonishing eight-over 80 which saw him surrender a four-shot lead going into the final round. In other words, no one is exempt from feeling the full wrath of the golfing gods from time to time. Naturally, the extent to which we play badly is all relative but as far as amateurs go, it is far more likely to happen a lot more frequently. 

With this being the case, perhaps it would help if weekend golfers looked at the sport as a chance to exercise when the going gets tough. Naturally, there will be those who scoff at the thought of golf providing any sort of benefit in terms of exercising but that will be done from a place of ignorance more than anything as a golfer can walk as many as ten kilometres during a round. Looking at it another way, if a golfer plays two rounds a week then they will walk as many as 20kms, which would then work out to be 80kms if they played as little as eight times a month. Ultimately, that is a significant amount of walking which could provide untold health benefits over the long term. 

So perhaps there is less reason to become frustrated when your ball sails into the water hazard given that you’re killing two birds with one stone by being out on the golf course in the first place. Anyone who keeps this perspective close by during an indifferent round in the future will never again see golf as being a good walk spoiled.

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