foozle vt foo-zled; foo-zling (1892): to manage or play awkwardly; a bungling golf stroke

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sport vs. Game

I can't tell you how many times I've gotten into arguments with my friends about whether golf is a sport or just a game. Usually late at night and after quite a few coctails, I might add, but still a relevant discussion as far as I'm concerned.
On the one hand I firmly agree that a sport cannot be played well while consuming alcohol and I'm living proof that golf can be played well while slightly inebriated. I've had some of my best rounds while not-so-casually sipping beers (and also some of my worst, mind you) so I'd say there's strike one against Golf As A Sport. Generally speaking I think you should be in decent physical shape (a.k.a. an athlete) to excel at a sport and again I've played numerous rounds with incredibly out of shape/overweight golfers and been amazed at how well they've gotten their ball around the golf course in so very few strokes. Strike two against Golf As A Sport, I guess.
On the contrary, when I think of 'games' I think of things like dodge ball, horseshoes, lawn bowling, hide-and-go-seek--stuff that you wouldn't necessarily need too much preparation to be able to excel at. Just being reasonably coordinated and aware of the few simple rules will do you well enough in these games to at least not be the worst one in the contest. This doesn't sound like golf to me either.
So which is it--a sport or a game? I think I've finally figured out the answer--the game you and I play is just that, a Game, while the one the pros play is definitely a Sport. How's that for a cop-out? Seriously, though, I believe its the mental aspect of the competition that separates the two versions of golf more than anything else. To be a successful tournament golfer you have to have the focus and the mental toughness to hit the shots when you need them the most, not just when no one is looking and no one except you really cares. So golf is both a sport and a game, I guess. Maybe that's why so many people love it so much.

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