8 Reasons Why Golf is the Most Challenging but Rewarding Game

By Bradley Turner, Keiser University College of Golf Director of Online Golf Instruction – MBA, PGA

I have heard this comment many times from students… ‘If I could only break 100, I would be a happy golfer,’ When they finally break that milestone, it isn’t too long before they want to break the 90 barrier. This cycle continues until they get to a point where the game challenge forces them to accept their playing ability. Golf is a demanding sport that any addicted golfer can attest to, and the challenge of getting better is never-ending. Many high-profile athletes have taken up golf and are surprised by how difficult it is to become a low-handicap golfer. The difficulty of golf is precisely why it is gratifying and addicting, all at the same time. Let’s explore eight reasons why golf is the most challenging yet rewarding sport.

Why is Golf so Hard? 

1. Physically Demanding

Golf does require athleticism and a level of stamina to walk 18 holes. The walk is over five miles, with many side trips to the trees and penalty areas looking for golf balls. Add in the topography of some golf courses, and you are in for a good workout. Most golfers are putting in maximum effort on every swing to move the golf ball closer to its final destination on the green. Include the warm-up session on the range before the round and a few practice swings before every shot… yep, golf can be a physically demanding sport for most participants.

2. Mentally Challenging

The better you are as a golfer, the more important the game’s mental aspects become. Why is it that you can execute that shot on the practice range, but it all disappears when you step on the first tee? The worst shots I have ever hit have occurred on the golf course, not on the practice range!  Golf is a mental challenge from the novice golfer to the best in the world.

3. Emotionally Draining

For the highly competitive golfer, the game can be like a roller coaster ride of emotions, with the excitement and satisfaction of your best shots followed by your more forgettable attempts. For most golfers, the foul shots outnumber the good ones, forcing the golfer to face their failures. High expectations combined with poor performance will put a golfer in an emotionally draining funk for sure.

4. Multiple Elements to Perfecting a Golf Swing

Hundreds of golf teachers have written about this topic and have shared their thoughts on building a perfect golf swing. Unfortunately, while informative, these books are no match for the multiple elements required to strike a golf ball like a professional. Every golfer has their physical limitations, strength, and hand-eye coordination in building a quality golf swing. Other factors include a golfer’s commitment and persistence in perfecting their golf swing. Now add in all the aspects of the body and club movement…yes, it is a highly complex endeavor, to say the least.

5. Different Types of Shots to Master

The variety of shots required to play golf at a high level exceeds any other sporting activity. In most other sports, you can designate a different player to master a position on the field. But in golf, you must master all the shots without the help of a teammate. Ball striking demands the ability to curve the ball in both directions while controlling the trajectory of the golf shot. Then you can add the different types of shots required of the short game, like bump and run shots, flop shots, buried bunker shots, chipping, pitching, and bunker shots. Finally, there is putting, which is mechanically the easiest skill in golf but mentally challenging for even the best in the world to master.

6. Consistency is Hard to Obtain

There is no magic solution to consistency in golf. Just like every other sport, it takes hard work to build consistency in performing a skill. A lot has been written about the 10,000 hours of training and practice to become an expert in any field of interest. With a bit of math…if you practice 20 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, you will have 1,000 practice hours completed. Ten more years is a lot more dedication and effort than most people will put forth.

7. Golf Courses are Designed to be Challenging

Golf courses provide golfers with various challenges that can border on making golf very hard. Your skill level in the game directly correlates to the level of challenge you enjoy. I have played a number of golf courses that are too difficult for the average golfer. Bunkers, penalty areas, and water are designed to test a golfer’s skill in avoiding these situations.

8. Golf Can be Intimidating

It is you against the golf course. You do not have teammates to help you with the club championship opening tee shot. All eyes are on the golfer who is playing a shot. This can be extremely uncomfortable for new golfers and those who dislike being in the spotlight. Certain holes can be intimidating, and certain golfers can be intimidating too. There is no way around it; if you are going to play the game, you will need to accept that situations can arise that might intimidate you.

Why Golf is So Rewarding

These eight reasons why golf is so hard may discourage you from playing more. However, the reason golf is so addicting is that it is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Perfecting your golf swing and learning all the different golf shots makes it very difficult to be a consistent player. The difficult aspects of the game are precisely why so many people love the sport with a passion beyond any other sport. Golf creates a lifetime of challenge combined with the enjoyment of overcoming disappointments on the golf course. The challenge keeps avid golfers playing for the majority of their lives. We all quit playing tic-tac-toe as it is too easy and predictable. Checkers is a bit more interesting but pales in comparison to chess. But golf trumps chess in complexity, physical, mental, and skill requirements. There is nothing easy or predictable about the game other than it is hard and unpredictable.

If golf comes easy to you, there are plenty of challenging golf courses that will test all facets of your golf skills. If a golf course is a bit intimidating and difficult for you, simply move forward to a shorter distance where you can enjoy the challenge of a hard golf course. Finally, if you are concerned about how difficult golf can be, search for a good PGA golf coach in your community. Utilizing the knowledge and skill of an experienced golf coach can make your journey in the game much more enjoyable and productive.

If you’d like to study with Mr. Turner and other PGA Master Professionals, contact The College of Golf today.

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