Golf may not look like a sweat-inducing sport, but it’s more strenuous than first impressions might indicate. I know because I tried to take it up when I was living in Dubai – easy exercise, nearby, affordable (by international standards) and it felt kind of posh. If you need more proof, check out some professional golfers, they are well-tuned machines with dedicated workout schedules, and the muscle memory training needed to keep swings uniform is remarkable.
Additionally, golf isn’t played in a stadium or arena, either. The playing surface stretches thousands of meters and incorporates a variety of terrains, going up the hill, down the hill and maybe walking over 10km per session. While it doesn’t get the recognition for promoting health that other sports do, taking up golf has great benefits for both body and mind. And it is one of the easiest ways to burn calories when on holidays!
It’s Great Exercise
As mentioned above, the average golf courses take up a small town’s worth of land. When dealing with 500 meter par-fives, there’s no quick route getting from one shot to the next. Some players rely on the use of golf carts, but if you’re looking to use golf as a way to get in shape, nothing beats walking.
According to the Mayo Clinic, simple brisk walking has lots of benefits, including weight maintenance, mood improvement, and bone strengthening. I walk everywhere in Singapore, even though temperatures are regularly above the 30 Celsius mark. After a day walking up and down the course, you’ll not only burn calories but you’ll sleep better and have more natural energy. Walking counts as exercise, don’t let the gym nuts tell you otherwise!
Low Injury Risk
The rate of injury in contact sports like football (soccer) and hockey is nearly 100%. If you meet a former football player, chances are they can point to a surgical scar. My poor partner loves football and he has had three knee surgeries already.
Golfers can still suffer wear and tear injuries, but high impact collisions are virtually non-existent, meaning the hobby golfer can play with relatively low expectations of injury. There’s no running, no jumping, and none of the high-impact motions that do the most damage to the body. In fact, the Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research determined that high school and college golfers suffered 0.02 major injuries per 100,000 from 1983 to 2016. Golfers do need to monitor their form and watch for overuse injuries, like for example on the wrist, but the overall risks of playing golf are almost non-existent, especially for amateur players.
It Builds Discipline
There’s an old saying in golf: “Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun”.
Golf is a fairly easy game to learn, but full mastery of it is nearly impossible. Even in his prime, golf legend Tiger Woods could be seen slamming or chucking his clubs into various states of disarray. The most seasoned pro rips a tee shot into the water every now and then.
Becoming a golfer means dedicating yourself to improvement and practice. It is not a fast paced sport but one of precision. You can’t just step onto the course and starting hitting greens in regulation, unless of course you want to break windows. It is also quite easy to miss and not even hit the ball, trust me on that one! Honing your golf swing takes practice, when you take up golf, you will eventually hit an iron into the sand or plunk a drive in a lake. Accept it, learn from it, and move on to the next hole.
A great activity to do while on holidays
A lot of people go on golf vacations where the sole purpose is to try a new golf course or simply practice a bit more. Getting on the same green over and over again can get repetitive and boring, you need new challenges every now and then.
Then there are those who don’t necessarily play golf all the time but would like to learn. Perhaps you do not have a course nearby or the one you have is very expensive. For example, in Singapore, golf courses are prohibitive so those who love the sport travel to enjoy it elsewhere.
There are lots of golf courses and academies that will teach you while on holidays, especially in places like the US or well-known golf destinations like Hawaii, the UK, Ireland, etc. Some golf academies have networks of schools across the country, like Bird Golf Academy, and they are a good place to try golf while on a vacation and, if you like it, chances are there will be another school close to where you live where you can continue improving your swing.
You’ll Spend Time Outside In The Sun
Golf courses take up a lot of land and require a lot of walking to reach the end. One of the benefits of this is the long hours you’ll spend out in the sunlight. Even golfers who use carts still get to enjoy the sun’s rays on a bright day. And sunshine is good for you!
Research has shown a link between sunlight and mental health, as rays cause the release of serotonin, the body’s happiness chemical. Now, too much sun exposure is obviously risky (bring sunblock to the course), but being out in the sun can decrease chances of depression and other mental disorders. Golf is good for the mind.
If you’re looking for a pastime to increase your physical and mental well being, golf just might be the activity for you. Get some exercise, learn a skill, and have a lot of fun along the way! What about booking your next holiday to a golf resort or academy?
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