Which sport is the hardest? This has been an age-old debate for centuries, but we are here to put an end to it. Golf is the hardest sport there is, and it is much more complicated & difficult than non-golfers may understand.
In this article, you will read the top 5 reasons why golf is a very difficult sport, the hardest sport there is.
Why Is Golf The Hardest Sport? – Top 5 Reasons
1. Physical requirements
The sport of golf has various physical requirements. Unfairly, the sport of golf is viewed as easy because many seniors still play it in their later life.
However, golf is truly a demanding physical sport, in more ways than one. In fact, golf requires a strong balance between power, control, flexibility & endurance.
Whenever you are driving a golf ball off the tee, you need to use all of the power you possibly can. The more power you have, the more carry distance the golf ball can travel, and the least amount of strokes you will require to complete a hole.
Next, golf is a sport that requires pin-point accuracy and control over your muscles to achieve this accuracy. Every shot in golf is different, whether it is rainy or sunny, uphill or on a flat surface, 20 or 150 yards away. To be able to perform all of the required shots without shooting the ball too far, too short, or out of bounds, it takes a huge amount of control over your muscles.
This control you need to be proficient at golf takes years, if not over a decade to cultivate. Give a beginner a golf club, and they will instantly understand golf is much more difficult than it appears to be.
Another essential quality of a good golfer is flexibility. Without flexibility, you cannot perform the significant amounts of twisting and extensions your body parts needs to do while playing.
Playing golf also requires a lot of walking, as well as standing up. For a typical round of 18-hole golf, you will likely be standing up for 2 to 4 hours in a row. Have you ever tried standing up that long? It is exhausting, and adding the effort of shooting about 70-100 shots during that time period makes it even more challenging.
Finally, you need to have a good eyesight ideally to be good at golf. In golf, you need to be able to know or see the layout of a golf hole in order to choose the best shot. You need to be able to accurately analyze distances, obstacle position, and other golf course variables. Golf holes are sometimes over 500 yards long, so eyesight is not a physical ability to ignore.
Overall, golf is a physically demanding sport in the amount and balance of different abilities it requires, from pure, raw strength to a delicate touch pianists could be jealous of.
2. Knowledge and Mastery Required For Different Golf Clubs
In any initiated golf player’s bag, there are 14 golf clubs, each club having a different length, loft angle, weight, shape, and other characteristics.
In golf, you need to be good to great with all 14 of your golf clubs. Being bad with a single one of your golf clubs could dramatically mess up your overall score in a round of golf.
Golf players need to know and master exactly when to use each of their 14 golf clubs depending on the situation they find themselves in. Golf players also need to master the use & feel of each of their 14 golf clubs.
Most other sports, like hockey for example, only use one piece of active equipment (a hockey stick). Many other sports, such as soccer, use no equipment, only your own body.
The best golf players tend to have excellent technical knowledge of the different types of golf clubs, what impacts golf club performance, which golf balls to use, etc. The best golf players tend to be nerds who understand the science of golf rather than just going with the feel.
Each golf club requires a slightly different technique that needs to be burnt into your muscle memory through thousands of repetitions. On top of that, you can use the same golf clubs to take different types of shots, depending on how hard you hit, the direction you want the ball to spin and curve in the air, etc.
Mastering the use of and knowing when to use all 14 of your golf clubs is no small feat, but a multi-year journey.
3. Complex Analysis of Complex Environment
Playing golf requires a complex analysis of complex environments. In fact, you usually have 18 different holes to navigate per golf course, and every golf course is different. Most golf players visit various golf courses throughout the years.
Each of these golf holes can be wildly different, in terms of length, ground type, obstacles, hazards, trees, sand bunkers, elevations, types of grass, and more.
There is an infinity of different configurations of golf holes you can run into, as opposed to in other sports, where you are always playing on the same type of field (e.g. in soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, American football, etc.).
Furthermore, in golf, the exterior conditions have a huge influence on how you will need to approach a golf hole.
The outside conditions such as the wind, the grass wetness, the weather, the rain, and other related events can completely transform a golf hole from a familiar hole into a hole you struggle with. A golf ball is a relatively light item, and it is easily impacted by the wind.
Finally, in golf, you need to figure out with little-to-no-help the best shot to take from a different starting point with every shot you take. Every shot starts from a different elevation, slope, distance to the golf hole, ground type, etc. Every shot is a new puzzle to which you must answer with the correct club selection, shot power, ball spin, and more.
4. Time Commitment
Golf is a sport that takes an incredible time commitment to get good at.
For example, it takes about 3-4 hours to play 18 holes of golf, which equates to about 80 shots taken only. To be able to get in the thousands of practice shots required to get good at golf, with each type of club, it will take many years. You can only shoot a few practice shots in golf per unit of time.
In other sports, you typically can condense your practice in much less time. For example, in hockey, you could easily take 80 practice shots in 2 to 3 minutes with correct form. However, in golf, your form tends to decay quickly over a practice session.
Golf comes with a huge time commitment, in training, practice, gear selection, club fitting, traveling, tournament play, tape analysis, theory learning, etc. There is so much to know about golf in both knowledge and practical mastery of your tools and techniques.
5. Mental Resilience
One of the most crucial and toughest parts of golf is the mental resilience required to perform well over a full round.
It is incredibly easy to mess up a golf shot. Winning a golf tournament requires you to do well on just about every shot. One single bad shot can send you down the rabbit hole of doubting yourself and beating yourself up.
It is difficult to stay calm, motivated, cool & collected when after messing up a single shot in golf.
When you look at the leaderboard and see that other players are multiple strokes ahead of you, it becomes excruciatingly difficult to stay focused and positive. You start to wonder if its even worth trying anymore, but you must if you wish to win.
Furthermore, it is very hard to be consistent in golf. For example, someone less experienced can get lucky and beat you even if you are objectively the better player 9 days out of 10. Losing a round of golf to a beginner can feel soul crushing and make you question whether you are even made for the sport.
Different weather conditions can also dramatically hurt your golf score as well as your confidence. For example, a shot you usually easily make on a sunny day is a shot you may miss on a windy day, and that can make you feel like you regressed in your skills, and decrease your confidence.
If you make one bad shot into a water hazard or out of bounds, your overall score is pretty much ruined, and you will lose valuable spots in the leaderboard of a tournament. Once you start dropping down the leaderboard, it is very tough mentally to stop the bleeding and keep going.
The psychology of golf is complicated and tough. If you are interested in the different types of motivation behind playing golf from a psychology point of view, read our article: Golf Psychology – The 6 Types Of Motivation Behind Playing Golf.
There you go! After reading this article, you have learned the top 5 reasons why golf is the hardest sport of all. Golf is truly a difficult sport, combining multifaceted physical requirements, an extensive knowledge & mastery of 14 golf clubs, complex analysis of the playing environment, a huge time commitment, as well as mental resilience.
Do you think golf is the hardest sport? What reasons did we miss? Let us know in the comments down below!