Golf: This is a sport?

These days, it looks like everybody is on the golf course. Well, almost everybody. According to the Royal Canadian Golf Association, there are 1.8 million players out there regularly and 5.1 million hacking away now and then.

Who can explain the popularity of this non-sport? There was a time when the cliché had it right: golf is a long walk spoiled. But even that unflattering description is no longer valid. Has any golfer apart from the touring pros walked since the golf cart was invented? Still, sport or non-sport, they’re out there in droves.

What happened was that for a very long time television turned people into a bunch of couch potatoes and now they’re fighting back, getting fit again, diving into exercise, but of course without risking a career-ending injury. And for that, golf is the perfect fit. If a person loves the outdoors and is 40 to 50 pounds overweight, has two left feet and puffs easily, then the thing for him (or her) assuredly is golf.

For non-athletes
Golf is a wonderful pastime for the non-athlete, similar to getting into a good book or a warm bath. To be fair, it’s true that a round of golf is more strenuous than lyg in a hammock (if you don’t fall out of the hammock) and, no question about it, it’s easier to stay awake on the golf course than watching its winter equivalent, curling.

But, I repeat, golf is not a sport. In sport you sweat. In golf you don’t sweat except if the cart breaks down and you have to walk up a hill. Walking up a hill can really tire a guy, also, when was the last time you saw a happy golfer?

Golfers are always lamenting a missed putt or a bad lie or muttering about a slow foursome ahead who won’t let them play through. And occasionally you’ll see a golfer grow so exasperated by the whole experience of swinging a skinny stick at the wretched ball that he’ll wrap the #@%&*# stick around a convenient tree trunk.

Not for spectators
So much for golf for golfers. Golf for spectators is an even larger disaster at the big tournaments. On television, okay, you sit with your feet up, your hands clasped over your expanding tum and there are certain creature comforts. Such as a nearby icebox and a nearby can.

But that’s not seeing the game’s big stars in the flesh. And you see the big stars in the flesh only at the big pro tournament. However, there are certain annoying inconveniences here, too. For instance, with the plumbing. At the course, after you’ve paid $94 or so to park your car roughly two miles from the entrance, you can’t use the indoor plumbing in the clubhouse because you are not allowed in the clubhouse. What you have are occasional clusters of outdoor one-holers called Johnny-on-the Spots in front of which you are permitted to line up and wait your turn.

The big stars? The Tiger Woods, the Mike Weirs, the Davis Love IIIs? (By the way, what’s with this guy’s numerals? Has anyone ever heard of Davis Love I or Davis Love II?) On the course you don’t see much of the big stars, especially on a tee because they’re always accompanied by huge horseshoe rings of people peering into the backs of people in front of them who are peering into the backs of people in front of them.

Fairway shots
Actually, though, you occasionally do see their fairway shots – if you’ve remembered to bring binoculars. Recognizing that people who mortgaged their homes to afford a weekly ticket deserve the gift of seeing an occasional star in the flesh, the tournament committees have devised a scheme that helps.

What they’ve done is border the fairways with long lines of yellow plastic cord. Spectators are permitted to stand (or lie) outside the yellow ropes in the hills and wild grass and valleys and fallen branches. Of course, if a spectator grows restless and steps (or crawls) inside the ropes onto deserted fairways that are as wide as Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, he (or she) risks expulsion, ostracism and possible deportation.

This is a sport?

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