Golf – Hobby or Sport?

Golf - Hobby or Sport?

The modern game of golf is believed by some to have originated in Scotland in the 15th century; however, an ongoing discussion by several historians points to the possibility that it may have been around in the early Roman era.  Most people have a general idea of what the game entails, but in case you aren’t familiar with golf, it is played by using a variety of clubs to swing at a small ball in the hopes that it will reach a hole off in the distance.  A round of golf is usually played over a 9 or 18 hole course with several opponents.  Rules are generally standard across the board, while courses can vary considerably, with some being fairly simple to play and others more appropriate for professionals and seriously seasoned enthusiasts.

Is Golf Exercise?

Although golf has been played for centuries, the discussion regarding whether it is truly a sport or just a leisurely hobby continues.  If the bottom line of how many calories are burned is what you’re looking for, you may be surprised to learn what you can achieve by playing a round of golf.  There is no question that golf is indeed exercise when you consider a study conducted at the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences, which showed that players averaged 721 calories burned if they walked and carried their clubs, while players who rode in carts still averaged 411 calories burned.  When you take into account the average distance one walks on a course (roughly 2.5 miles) you can conclude that just the action of the swing is a major calorie burner.  

Good for Your Heart?

Good for Your Heart?

Although it’s probably clear that playing golf won’t provide the same kind of workout that you would achieve with a sport like boxing, a player who averages 36 holes a week of golf could burn around 2,800 calories, placing them in the the range of improving their overall health while lowering their risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  The only issue is that your aerobic fitness level may not improve from just playing golf.

Being physically fit was shown to improve your golf game in another study, in which participants were fitted with equipment that measured the distance they walked as well as their vital signs.  One group of players carried their bags for the duration of their round on the course, a second group walked while their caddies carried their clubs, a third group pushed their clubs and a fourth group rode in golf carts.  Scientists discovered that when the presence of lactic acid increased, the performance of the players went down and they could not maintain the level they were playing with at the start.  With that information, you can conclude that being in good aerobic condition is beneficial for any golfer to play at their peak level.  

The Takeaway

The Takeaway

Because golf is a slow moving game that doesn’t significantly increase your heart rate, there are many out there who don’t think of golf as a sport and feel it is more of a mental than a physical challenge.  While it is clear that golf burns a respectable number of calories and is certainly better than doing no physical activity, if you want to get in shape, you’ll need to step it up with other types of exercise.  Your fitness level will improve with weight lifting and additional cardio and can also help you out on the golf course.  Even though golf is definitely a sport and more than just a hobby, engaging in other types of exercise will help round out your fitness routine.