If you’re looking for a little outdoor fun and fitness this summer, why not try golf? Yes, golf, this centuries old Scottish sport is making a serious comeback and not simply as a platform for business negations. Many are turning to golf as a source of recreation and pleasure as well as an opportunity to free yourself from the confines of the office while building your network of friends. And if that’s not a convincing enough argument then here are “fore” other good reasons to try golf.
Bonding & Building: One golfer’s favorite aspects of the sport is that it brings generations together and teaches skills that are integral in all aspects of life. “Golf can hold different meaning for an individual or family,” says Danielle Buth, retired account executive, volunteer coach for the First Tee of West Michigan, former Golf Association of Michigan Governor and a past member of the Michigan State University women’s golf team. “For me, golf was part of my family growing up and a way to spend time with my Dad. I have three sisters, but I was the only one who took a real interest in golf. Through the years it has taught me perseverance, integrity, judgment, respect and patience.”
Relaxation & Restoration: Strolling along manicured lawns dappled with groomed gardens and lined with vibrant and exotic flowers, golf encourages relaxation and mental restoration. “Golf is a practice in mindfulness, much like yoga,” says Danielle. “You must be present in the moment, focusing on each shot, putting past shots out of mind and not thinking too far ahead.” While golf requires concentration, it’s that focus that allows you to put aside outside worries, stressors and just step into a calming world isolated from unwanted intrusions.
“I believe the challenge of the course, hitting the ball consistently, and your mental awareness to stay calm are some of the reasons why golfing is so addictive,” explains Matt Cinco, avid golfer and Co-Founder of BridgePoint Wealth Management. He also stresses the R&R that comes with simply being outdoors. “If you take the time to take in the surrounding around you, it will provide an extra layer of beauty. It’s very peaceful.”
Fun & Fitness: With its slower pace, isolated actions and centered concentration, one might think it’s hardly a workout. Not so. You’ll find yourself toning many muscle groups—arms, core and legs—especially if you are out on a regular basis.
“If you walk 9 holes, it is close to three miles,” says Matt. Walking and using a pull cart is great exercise and many people get into a fitness program to improve their golf game so there is that added benefit if you decide to up your game.
“Golf involves hand eye coordination and is best if one can work on core body strength,” explains Danielle. “Many golfers today work out in the gym to help achieve this type of conditioning along with practice. Although many use an electric cart, I primarily try to walk the course which can be up to seven miles depending on distance between holes.” She also adds that the addition of newer ‘push carts’ and power caddies make it easier than ever to walk 18 holes.
Discipline & Direction: The game is all about fun and freedom and no matter your ‘game’ should never make you feel self-conscious. But if you are still uncertain about trying the sport, ask for help. Odds are numerous individuals right within your social circle are golf gurus, and if you want to up your game partnering with a group or a friend provides you with the discipline and accountability required to make marked progress.
“Join a league or group, find a clinic or event that can introduce you to the game,” advises Danielle. “Organizations such as the Golf Association of Michigan—a hundred year-old organization supporting golf in the state—can connect you to resources.” If you’re a woman, there are many specialized groups to encourage participation in the sport including the PGA women’s network, whose mission is to offer help to better enjoy the game, and the Executive Women’s Golf Association that offer lessons, clinics and golf instruction groups for all levels of players.
But if you’d rather enlist an expert’s assistance, “start with a local golf shop and talk to an instructor,” says Matt. “Investing time and money into lessons not only helps your game but also makes your life a lot less stressful.”
Grand Rapids golfer Dave Lange agrees. “Spend the money on lessons before you buy expensive equipment. This is something beginners should seriously consider because they will enjoy the game much more. I see beginners spend $200 or more on golf clubs, but balk on spending money on lessons and when they don’t have success they get frustrated and teach themselves bad habits, which could be harder to correct over time.”
Community & Confidence: Once you’ve caught the golfing fever it’s time to share the fun. You can always golf alone, but the sport is a great way to forge a common interest with others, even if you meet them right on the course.
“Courses will sometimes pair you up with other people to keep foursomes for every tee time,” explains Matt. “It’s a great way to make new friends. Since the sport is a communal one it’s an easy way to socialize with a group, friend or significant other. It also provides you with a foundation, a common interest, on which to build your circle of friends.”
“Golf can be a way to start a new sport later in life, connect at work or seek new friends and social contacts,” says Danielle. “It not only connects you to business and social circles, but it teaches you about life, how to be purposeful, mindful and confident.”
Kim Monaghan, PCC, RYT, CPBS is the owner of KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC, a boutique Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching Firm serving a national clientele.