When people ask me how long I have been playing golf, I tell them, “since I was old enough to walk around and swing a club.” I played varsity all through high school. For four years, May through October I lived and breathed golf. I was on the course early in the morning before the sun had time to become blistering hot and I had to go to work.
I often get told that golf isn't a sport and the majority of the time it's by someone who has never picked up a club in their life. I'm not sure why they say it's not a sport. Maybe because there is no running involved, no throwing or kicking or anything is generally seen as athletic. But we lug a bag of 14 clubs up the fairway and down the rough for 9 or 18 holes in the sweltering sun or the pelting rain and wind.
I've played golf in shorts and a tank top with sweat dripping into my eyes. I've played with sweatpants over my khakis and enough jackets that I have to take some off before each shot so I can swing. I've had to dry off my hands between every swing so my club didn't fly out of my grip from the rain that had been pouring down for six holes. If that's not dedication, then I don't know what is.
My dad was the assistant coach of my high school golf team and he has a lot of sayings, both about golf and life, that I will always remember. One thing he said was that golf is not a sport. It's three sports.
Most everyone has been mini golfing at some point in their lives. This facet of golf – putting – was made into a sport of its own.
I have seen people who have never played a full round of golf go to the driving range for fun and full-length shots like this are another sport within golf. Whether with a driver or a 9 iron, the motions are mostly the same.
The last part of golf, often seen as the most difficult, is the short game, or pitching and chipping. These shots aren't full shots, but they're not putts either. You have to adjust your swing for the distance to the hole. A 20-yard swing is much different from a 60-yard swing.
Maybe people who say golf isn't a sport have only seen the side of it where old men go out once a week to ride around in a cart and drink beer, getting away from their wives for a while and smacking around a ball until it finally goes in a hole. And maybe that kind of golf is more of a leisure activity, but I can guarantee you that most of those men were once high school students who woke up before the sun to get in a round before they had to work. They spent Saturdays at the course with their friends, their teammates, playing round after round.
And if you tell me that golf just isn't physically exerting enough to be a sport, I'd ask you to tell that to the 3 bottles of Gatorade I would go through during tournaments, to my aching obliques after the first round of the season, to my sore and swollen feet after walking 18 holes in 90+ degree weather.
Remember not to knock a sport until you've played it in the most extreme conditions. And trust me, I have played golf in the most extreme conditions.