You may have heard it already that ‘golf is not a sport’ but who sets the rules. Who determines what real sport is? In fact, I already wrote another piece on why golf is regarded as a rich man’s sport as I have always known it as a sport.
In this article, we’ll explore more the different voices of golf definition as a sport and specifically why some regard it as a sport while some critics oppose it being referred to as a sport.
So what is a sport?
In my research on this topic, I found various literature with different interpretations of what a sport is. One of the most popular and top-ranking pieces on the internet about the topic is a claim made by Larry Atkins who made a strong claim that gold is not a sport.
His basis for saying golf is not a sport:
In summary, Larry makes the case that real sport involves jumping and running and most pro-golfers do little of this.
This is an excerpt of the Chicago Tribune article written by Larry:
“Golf isn’t a sport; it’s a skill much like bowling, billiards, darts, auto racing, curling, shuffleboard, and pinochle. It’s an activity that older people take up when their knees go bad and they can’t play real sports like basketball, baseball and football anymore.”
Below is a snapshot of the article’s headline.
Enough of Larry’s take on golf not being a real sport.
What do experts say?
In a debate on whether to include darts as a sport, the Council of Europe charter on sport provided the following definition of what can be included as a sporting activity (source: BBC);
“Sport means all forms of physical activity, which through casual or organized participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels”.
The answer from the Council was responding to packed questions including; What exactly makes something a sport? Does it require physical exertion, a governing body, a high level of skill, and technical ability? How does an activity go from being seen as a game or a pastime to being officially classified as a sport?
From this definition, we can see that in order for something to be considered a sport, it needs to have some element of physical activity. It also should aim to improve physical fitness or mental well-being, and lastly, it can either be done casually or competitively.
So does golf fit into this definition? Let’s take a look.
Golf does involve physical activity. You need to walk around the course, and you swing a club to hit the ball. However, the level of physical exertion required is relatively low compared to other sports. For example, in tennis, you need to run around the court, and in football, you need to run up and down the field.
In terms of improving physical fitness, golf can certainly do that. Walking around the course is a form of exercise, and it can help to improve your stamina and fitness levels. However, again, the level of physical activity required is much lower than in other sports.
As for mental well-being, golf can definitely help with that. The fresh air and the time spent outdoors can help to improve your mood and mental state. But once again, other sports can have the same effect.
Olympic rules on golf as a sport:
In the 2016 Summer Olympics, Golf was included as a sport to be played it was excluded in 1904, about 112 years before its re-introduction in 2016. So, what led to this change?
From the reports indicating the re-introduction of golf in the Rio Olympics in 2016, ‘the rapid expansion and globalization of the sport’ convinced the 121st International Olympic Committee to recommend adding golf back into the Summer Olympics.
But it wasn’t just golf. Rugby 7s was also included – an activity-intensive sport compared to golf. Compared to some Olympics sports such as race walking and pistol shooting, golf equally fits into the category of being a sport.
Rather than following the Council of Europe charter on sport, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to use other criteria to include golf in the 2016 Summer Olympics. They based their decision on the following three criteria: universality, youth appeal, and gender equality.
Golf is a sport that is played all over the world, in every continent. It has a growing popularity among young people, and it is a sport that men and women can play equally.
However, not everyone agrees with the IOC’s decision to include golf in the Olympics. Some argue that golf is too easy to be considered a sport, and that it should not be included alongside more physically demanding activities.
But at the end of the day, it is up to the IOC to decide which sports are included in the Olympics. And based on their criteria, golf is a sport that meets the requirements.
To defend their position that golf is not a sport, some critics use the following arguments:
You can play even when you are injured:
The case is that you cannot play more involving sport such as basketball when you are injured. An injury will not stop a golf player as you can still play by using a buggy.
In 2008, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open while he was recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that he had surgery on the week before the tournament.
Golf can be played without breaking a sweat:
In some sports, such as tennis, you need to run around and exert yourself physically in order to play the game. In golf, however, you can play without breaking a sweat..
You can play golf even if you are not physically fit:
In other sports, such as football or rugby, you need to be physically fit in order to play. This is not the case with golf. You can play even if you are not in great shape.
It is a game of leisure:
Golf takes too much time; it is not a fast game. It is a game that people use to socialize and relax rather than for competition. Also, people dress formally when playing golf which is not the case with other sports.
Why Golf is NOT a sport – A take by a Youtuber with 327k Views.
Patrice O’Neal – Why Golf Is Not A Sport
In the short 1.28-min video below, Patrice O’Neal makes the case that golf is not a sport because there is no defense. His claim is that there has to be someone trying to oppose you from using your golf skills to be referred to as a sport. Listen to the video to get his whole argument.
Other Limited-activity Sport Like Golf:
While golf may not be as demanding as other sports, there are other activities that are limited in their physicality that are classified as sports. Here are a few examples:
- -Chess: A game of strategy that requires mental endurance and critical thinking, chess is considered a sport by the International Olympic Committee.
- -Shooting: A sport that requires precision and focus, shooting has been an Olympic event since 1896.
- -Darts: A pub game turned competitive sport, darts requires accuracy and hand-eye coordination. It is recognized as a sport by the World Darts Federation.
- Billiards: A sport that requires precision and skill, billiards has been an Olympic event in the past.
While some may argue that these activities are not demanding enough to be considered a sport, they do require some level of physicality and skill. And at the end of the day, it is up to the IOC to decide which activities are classified as sports.
So, what is the definition of a sport?
The answer may lie in the intent of the activity. If the main purpose of the activity is physical exertion and competition, then it can be classified as a sport. However, if the primary purpose is leisure or something else, then it may not be classified as a sport.
At the end of the day, whether or not you consider golf to be a sport is up to you. But based on the criteria used by the IOC, golf is a sport that meets all the requirements.
What type of sport is golf?
Golf is classified as a Limited-activity Sport that meets the definition of what a sport is as set by the International Olympic Committee. This is because the primary purpose of golf is not physical exertion and lacks active competition with attack and defense mechanisms like other sports such as soccer . Rather, it is a game of strategy and precision that can be played without breaking a sweat.
Other limited-activity sports include chess, shooting, and darts. These activities require some level of physicality and skill but are not as demanding as other sports such as football or rugby.
Is golf a sport or an activity?
It is a low-activity sport but still involves some activity – walking, swinging and putting the ball. While golf does not require the same level of physical exertion as other sports, it does require some level of skill and physicality. And based on the criteria set by the IOC, golf is a sport that meets the requirements to be included in the Olympics.
While golf may have a reputation for being a rich person’s game, it is actually a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds across different income classes. Golf is a sport that is played all over the world, by people of all ages and genders. Many rich people like this sport because it is a game of strategy and precision. But golf is not just for rich people – anyone can enjoy this sport.
How many calories does playing golf burn?
The number of calories burned while playing golf varies depending on the person’s weight, the intensity of play, and other factors. However, on average, a person can burn anywhere from 400 to 650 calories per hour while playing golf, especially while doing so and pushing the cart. You can, however, burn up to 1500 calories while playing 9-hole golf or 3000 calories playing a game of complete 18-hole golf. Read more about how you can play golf to lose weight by burning calories. You can also read these 5 reasons why golf is great sport during the winter.
In conclusion, golf is a sport that is played all over the world, by people of all ages and genders. It may not be as physically demanding as other sports, but it does require some level of skill and physicality. And based on the criteria set by the IOC, golf is a sport that meets the requirements to be included in the Olympics.
Hi there! I am Justin, one of the founders here at Golf Bagsy. I have been golfing since I was 12 and have participated in over 50 tournaments since 2018. When COVID took over the golf tournament schedules during the lockdowns, I spent a good amount of time doing research and writing about golf. I also provide part-time coaching for those looking to learn how to play golf and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.