POLL: Is Golf a Sport?

The dictionary defines “sport” as: “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” The dictionary defines “golf” as: “a game played on a large open-air course, in which…”

Notice I stopped in the middle of golf’s definition. Some will tell you there’s no need to read any further – that my question (is golf a sport) has been answered. Right there, after the indefinite article “a” is my answer – it’s the word “game” and that, they will tell me, is what golf is.

Well, I beg to differ.

You see to many, golf couldn’t possibly be a sport…Where’s the physical contact? Where’s the offense and defense? And, perhaps the most commonly cited reason why golf is not a sport: You can be out of shape yet still play it. There you have it – apparently to play a sport, you must be physically fit.

Again, I beg to differ.

Let’s examine the definition of “sport” a bit further. The dictionary uses the phrase “an activity” to describe it. To be sure, golf is also an activity, isn’t it? And it does involve a fair degree of “physical exertion and skill” does it not? And would I be incorrect to suggest you play golf as an “individual or team” and you compete “against another or others for entertainment”???

Hmmm, that sounds exactly like what golf is to me. It doesn’t say anything about having to be in shape. And it says nothing about bashing each other’s brains in let alone an offense and defense.

This all being said, could it be that society has come to think of sports as all physical exertion and little skill? As if machismo is the only requirement – that the physical exertion part has to include some sort of impact with another player. Perhaps this is why so many are quick to exclude golf from the “sport” bucket? Golf to these folks is far too benign to be a sport.

But in my opinion, golf transcends the term “sport” and the term “game” – it meets all the defined criteria of a sport, yet includes no physical contact with other players (actually, it’s quite the opposite: It encourages camaraderie with your fellow competitors)! It requires minimal physical fitness, yet can be extremely good exercise. And it’s competitive as hell (ask any golfer), yet can be enjoyed solo.

But, perhaps I’m putting too much thought into this. What do you think?

Is Golf a Sport?


  1. Anything that a 72 year old can beat a 17 year old at is a game, not a sport.

  2. My gut reaction is that golf would be sport if someone was hitting another ball back at you. Other than your own of course when your career 3 wood accidentally rolls under the cart of the foursome in front of you.

    Regarding conditioning however, picture some relief pitchers in MLB, or Prince Fielder. Hand eye, hand eye.

  3. It’s called the “game of golf” not the “sport of golf”. With golf we’re not physically competing against anyone. Just the results of our own rounds are compared. I think that’s the difference.

  4. Thanks for siteging this info. I have been searching for it awhile now. Ron – interval training

  5. I think you left out the biggest part of what the dictionary says… “… in which an individual or team competes against another or others…” Can you play football, baseball, soccer, etc. by yourself? Nope! but you can golf. Because all you’re doing is keeping score, a score which is really just the number of times you swing at the ball. So it does not meet all the requirements to be called a sport based on the definition of “sport”.

  6. Look, everyone out there who says golf is not a sport think again. I am 10 years old been playing the game for 2 years believe me it is a sport. It takes skill but you do have to be very fit to play it as one round of golf (18 holes) on an average golf course is walking 6 miles. I find it quite offensive how everybody says golf is for the elderly and for lazy people,it is NOT. Everybody who has said golf takes no no physical exertion i would like to ask you have you ever played at least 5 holes of golf?

  7. So the 97 bunkers, 3 ravines, 4 creeks and 23 other water hazards aren’t enough defense for you? The golf course is the opponent and the defense.

    As far as “being in shape”, we can all “play” the games of golf, football, baseball, bowling, soccer and such, but can we play them well?

    Golf is, without a doubt, the hardest SPORT to be mediocre at, let alone master it.

    Besides, except for bowling, you can’t really drink a beer while you’re playing, so extra sports bonus points there.

  8. So baseball; where you aren’t physically competing against anyone, is mostly a game of catch between the pitcher and catcher, and where players sit for most of the game qualifies and golf doesn’t?

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