Golf as a marketable sport is full of contradictions. If you take a bunch of sports pundits and gurus and lock them in a room, throw away the key and tell them to come up with an ideal, marketable sport before getting out, chances are the end result won’t resemble anything like golf. Its appeal doesn’t really add up. But all love is irrational, and the love for golf is not excluded. Here are 5 reasons why golf ought not to be popular, but is:
A: “A sport should be easily accessible. People ought to be able to play it in their backyards. Every neighbourhood ought to have some place where the sport can be played.”
B: “Nah. Lets design a sport, which takes up more space then a hamlet. That will be a hit.”
Take a basketball court, a football field and a cricket field together. Actually, take about ten of each and clump them together, and they will still be smaller than an average sized golf course. A golf course is about 150 acres long. That kind of space is not easy to find. There are a lot of places where you can play other sports, but to play golf you need a huge course, which takes time to find and time to traverse. Its maintenance and upkeep requires a lot of money too.
Despite the sport requiring a course the size of a tiny village, it is still a popular game. The breathtaking beauty of courses actually adds to the appeal of the game.
How many golf courses are there in your city? Not very many. How many football fields are there in your city? Innumerable. By its very nature, a golf course is not something, which can be sprinkled all around here and there. It takes up a weighty investment and a huge commitment to build one.
Despite there not being more than a handful of golf courses in a country, it is still popular. Perhaps the law of supply and demand has something to do with it. Scarcity creates demand. Golf courses are scarce. Hence, they are always in high demand.
“A sport should be action packed. The people watching it should feel their pulse racing and heart beating itself out of their chests.”
“Nah. Lets give them a sport, which involves no footwork on the part of the athlete, predetermined sequences when the athletes swings a club, and a whole lot of scurrying about on the greens.”
Ignoring the potential for car wrecks, golf is only above F1 racing when it comes to spectator friendliness. In F1 the cars just go round and round. In golf the action is a bit above par than that. Minute for minute, the sport isn’t the most fast paced one and the spectators are sort of reduced to the background. In many sports the crowd acts as a part of the game. Home court advantage is significant in basketball, the home crowd pulls all sorts of antics to distract the opponents. In golf the crowd is — get this — is required to remain hush hush while one is about to hit the ball.
If I had it my way I would have the golfers be accompanied by a team of distraction specialists, who pull a variety of tricks to unnerve the opponent. Coughing while they are about to drive. Flashing torches/laser pointers at their eyes. Booing, hissing and uttering despicable words to belittle the confidence of the driver. All that will add an element of unpredictability to the sport. But I digress. The sport doesn’t have much appeal as something you would watch for excitement. Granted the skills the pros display makes for an appreciative watch if you have the eye for it, but for a channel surfer golf is something to just change channels through.
The dignified behaviour, which is expected of the crowd actually allows for a well behaved audience. A football game is not really a place to socialize, what with all the hooligans. In golf you can sip a cup of tea and make pleasant conversation while following the game.
“Lets design a sport which gives us a mile a minute action. Something always happening at all times.”
“Nah, lets have a sport where the only action is when the ball is struck with the club and the majority of time is spent in milling about.”
‘Time is a valuable thing. Watch it fly by as the golfer swings.’ The origin of that phrase by Linkin Park was when Chester was out golfing and Mike Shinoda got so bored he decided to go out and form Fort Minor. As a parting shot he wrote those lines. But they changed golfer to pendulum for some reason. You could actually take a pendulum with you on the golf course, watch it swing and play the game at the same time. Maybe the hypnotic nature of its swing makes one look at the sport through hypnotized eyes. Bottom line: golf is a slow game.
In fast paced games one gets tired and bored with the instant gratification. In golf the gratification is delayed and all the more sweeter for when it finally arrives.
A lot of sports involve offense and defense. You can affect the outcome of a game on both ends, when you are on the offense and when your opponent is on offense. The same is not true for golf. Earlier, the spectators in arenas of gladiators would be treated to blood being sprayed all around and errant limbs flailing and smacking them upside the face. With golf, there is some potential for the ball hitting you and if you happen to be in a PG Wodehouse novel, some potential for the club flying away and clubbing you. But that’s about it for the direct one on one action you can expect.
The other side of the coin says that you are only competing against yourself in golf. Its just you and the ball and the club. The best man or women ends up winning on the strength of their skill.
Contradictions make for an interesting life. Golf as a sport is full of it. And that only lends to its appeal.