Golf is a great game loved by millions around the world. Every sport has different skill requirements to be enjoyed. Sports like ice hockey require years of learning to skate, while sports like badminton can be picked up on the spot. For some people, golf may be the hardest sport of all to master.
Therefore, if you are looking to get into golf, or want to understand how skill-intensive the sport you have been practicing really is, you may wonder: how difficult is it to play golf?
In this article, we will tell you exactly how difficult it is to play golf, as well as the reasons why.
How Difficult Is It To Play Golf?
Overall, golf is one of the hardest sports to master because of how small the ball is and how huge the course is. Physically, golf is not very demanding, but skill wise, knowledge wise, and mentally wise golf is incredibly difficult. Golf’s skill floor is high and in most cases, it takes over 10 years to master golf.
Overall, golf is quite difficult to play. To reach professional level in golf is simply phenomenal. While you can break a score of 100 with relative ease by practicing enough, breaking 80 or breaking 70 will take you many years and countless hours of practice.
Down below are some of the elements that are difficult or easy about golf.
9 Facts About Golf’s Difficulty
#1 Golf Has A High Skill Floor
Similarly to ice hockey, golf has a high skill floor. This means that just to be able to play a round of golf decently, it might take you a couple years. In ice hockey, it takes years to learn how to ice skate, a skill without which you cannot even move or stop your movement correctly; you are useless if you cannot skate.
In golf, instead of skating, getting a decent golf swing is the main difficulty. Just to start getting comfortable playing, golf requires a lot of practice learning how to swing a club.
It will probably take 1 to 3 years until you are very comfortable with your golf swing. It really depends on how many hours of practice you get in, and you will need a lot. Practicing more will reduce the time it takes you to raise your skill level at the skill floor required to really enjoy golf.
Without a decent golf swing, your golf ball will be shooting around left and right into the rough, bunkers, and water hazards. It is very difficult to shoot under 100 in golf score if you cannot even hit the golf ball in the general area that you want it to go, or if you cannot give it enough carry distance.
Even though it takes a while reaching golf’s relatively high skill floor, chances are you will still love golf and enjoy the initial process in which you will make lots of progress hopefully.
In addition, golf is not the worst sport to start out as a beginner in. When you think of a sport like ice hockey, in which you constantly fall down and slip on the ice, bruising your coccyx 5 times by the time you get comfortable at skating, learning golf really is not that bad at all. Everyone knows how to walk. Golf is fun.
#2 Small Errors Become Huge Mistakes
Golf is a game of inches and angles where every error is extrapolated and projected onto the huge size of golf courses.
For example, hitting the ball with your club head just a few degrees off from being square to the ball can result in sending the ball into the rough instead of onto the green.
Being off with your club head’s face by just a few degrees translates to a huge mistake over the course of 100-300 yards of travel distance in the air.
Furthermore, the golf ball is TINY relative to the size of golf courses.
Other sports, like basketball, soccer, hockey, American football, ping-pong, and more, are much easier than golf in this respect. Can you imagine playing basketball with a ball and hoop only 2 inches in diameter? That is essentially the game you are playing when you play golf.
You will statistically almost never succeed in golf just by accident. There are simply too many ways to make mistakes in golf. It is improbable to put a tiny golf ball into a hole 500 yards away from you. You need to be really good at golf to get the ball in the hole with only a few golf club strokes.
#3 Golf Courses Are Ever-Changing
Another reason why golf is difficult is because golf courses are ever-changing. A golf hole you usually are great at completing can suddenly become incredibly hard for you another day.
In fact, the difficulty of a golf hole changes a lot with the weather. Golf courses are living, breathing things that are part of the world.
Element such as the wind, water, rain, temperature, amount of moisture in the turf, and more can completely change how a golf hole feels and plays. The same hole is a different challenge every time you play it. It is incredibly hard to remain consistent in golf.
Even in professional golf, players can easily have a score that varies by 10 strokes from one week to the next, over 18 holes. You need to be able to read the weather conditions and estimate the best shot to take in every situation. Can you think of any other sport where the weather elements are so impactful?
#4 Golf is Demanding Skill Wise, But Easy Physically
One nice thing about golf is that it is not too demanding physically if you are not aiming to be the very best. While athleticism and physical strength is extremely helpful to drive the ball far and play competitively, it is not required to be a hobbyist in golf.
In fact, you see golfers of all ages, from children to 80 year old grandparents! This is one of the beauties of golf. It truly is a game for all ages.
On the other hand, skill wise, golf is extremely demanding. There are so many little details about the golf swing, how you hit the ball, and a multitude of other elements that you need to practice to get good at golf. The fact is that some people who play golf simply never get good at it!
#5 Golf Has A Slow Pace, With Low Pressure, And The Ball Is Stationary
One fact that makes golf less difficult than some other sports is how relaxing and slow paced it. You are essentially alone, with no fast-twitch movements required and no eyes constantly having to scan the surroundings for incoming obstacles.
In golf, although you are sometimes pressed to hurry up your swinging pace, you never have 300-lb NFL quarterbacks or big NHL defenders moving towards you at high speed to knock you out. Can you imagine trying to play golf with people trying to take you out?
In addition, the ball in golf is stationary before you hit it, unlike in many other sports where the ball, puck, or projectile is constantly in high speed movement, switching directions rapidly. This part about golf reduces the complexity in a way.
#6 Golf Requires Mastery Over 14 Clubs
In most sports in which you hit a projectile with some sort of stick, you only have one piece of equipment to master. Examples of theses sports are hockey with the hockey stick, tennis, badminton, and ping-pong with their rackets, baseball with the bat, and many more.
In these sports, you can focus on mastering one specific stick type for your entire life.
On the other hand, a golf bag is filled with 14 golf clubs, not just one! This adds incredible amounts of complexity to the sport of golf, as you have 14 times the amount of striking equipment to master.
Golf also requires you to know everything about your different clubs, their carry distance, when to use them, and on top of that, you need to intuitively be able to master hitting the golf ball with each club!
There is a huge, nerdy, mental knowledge-based aspect of mastering 14 golf clubs, each with different characteristics and use cases.
#7 Golf Requires Accurate Topology Reading
If you thought mini-golf on hard, flat surfaces was hard, then you may not be ready for golf at all. In golf, just about every single slope, hill, and surface has different topology characteristics that change the way the ball reacts when rolling or landing.
Especially when putting on the putting green, being able to accurately and intuitively read the topology and relative elevations is crucial. We all know that our lowest scores are made with our short game.
The further you are away from the hole on the putting green, the harder it becomes to one-putt the ball in the hole. A two-putt is still a decent result, but you should avoid a three-putt at all costs if you are already an average or better golfer.
#8 Golf Requires A Huge Time And Money Investment
Another thing that makes golf difficult is the large investment of time and money required. For people who do not have excess income to spend, the cost of playing rounds of golf can be prohibitive or limit the amount of time they can practice.
In addition, ignoring the financial investment to play golf, it still takes so many hours, days, weeks, months, and years to master golf. The best golfers have been playing for a long time, since they were young, putting way over 10,000 hours into the game.
If you want to compete with the best golfers in the world, there is no way around it, you will have to sink in countless hours into the game. If you cannot invest time into playing golf, it will be difficult to get good at it. It is not a sport you can pick up instantly like badminton.
#9 Mental Toughness Is Required
One underrated aspect of golf’s difficulty is the mental toughness it requires. Messing up one single shot can mess up your entire score for the round of golf. You do not get second chances in golf.
In other sports like soccer and hockey, you can have a few bad minutes of play without any negative consequences like the other team scoring on your team. In soccer and hockey, you can simply forget your bad couple minutes, and move on quickly to give some better performances.
However, in golf, your mistakes stay with you until the end of the round in the form of an inflated score, which can ruin your mood and your concentration. In golf, every shot counts. Concentration and mental fortitude are important to poise your way to a great golf score.
There you go! After reading this article, you have discovered just how difficult it is to play golf, as well as some of the reasons why. You have learned that golf is a long journey that takes many years to become a master at, although you can enjoy golf rather quickly as a beginner.
How difficult to do you find golf? Do you think golf is the hardest sport out there? Let us know in the comments down below!