Why Do You Play Golf?
A group of us were having one of those hypothetical, theoretical conversations the other day and the subject was along the lines of "just what do golfers typically want from the experience?"

We explored all the wonderful things about this game, and shared snippets of information we've all gleaned from our lifetimes in this industry. Knowing what golfers are really thinking is a huge part of managing a successful golf company, right?

So, I'd like to share some of our "conclusions" with all of you to help us understand what it is that drives you to love this game. It's hard to be totally objective when you have made your living in this business for your entire life, so all the insight you all would share with me will be greatly appreciated. Please weigh in on these subjects:
  1. What is it that you really want from golf? Is it score? Hitting it longer? Closer? Something that made the most sense to us was from a recent survey that said most golfers just want to "hit better golf shots more often". What do you all think of that?

  2. Is hitting the "long ball" really all that gratifying? Would you trade yards for consistency? Accuracy? Or not?

  3. Is it about just being outside? Or is that too simplified? Exercise? Or is there really that much of that?

  4. Time with your buddies/wife/kids? Where does the quality time with those special people figure into the equation?

  5. Fun or To Win? Is most of your golf centered on the betting games and your goal is to win? Or is most of your golf about the pure enjoyment of all the game has to offer? If you could never bet again on the golf course, would it have the same appeal? Are you a tournament player, too?
Those are the things we tossed around, and would love to have all of you sound off with what you think. And to see if we can't stimulate this to be the most active article ever, I'm going to randomly choose one of you respondents to win a matched pair of SCOR4161 precision scoring clubs, custom built to your own specs.

Let me know what you are thinking!!!!
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
jasonfish11 says:
For me it’s a little longer than yes or no answers.

The easy one. Would I trade distance for accuracy. At this moment in time yes, but I'd rather work on improving both instead of giving up something to benefit another aspect.

Yes hitting the long ball is gratifying. But not so much anymore. It use to be fun when I popped one 300+ yards or hit driver over water onto the green on a par 4. But now that I do that 1 to 2 times a round (300+ yards that is) I’ve become a little less thrilled with it. I’ve even noticed I have started to pull iron of the tee a lot more recently, because I don’t really care if I hit a 350 yard drive. I did enjoy the 360 yard smash this year but it is my life time best for non-wind, non-cart path aided shots (I hit a 410 yard 3i one day when I was 14, that was pretty amazing but I caught the concrete fairway and wound up 80 yards past the green lol).
jasonfish11 says:
For the harder answers. What is golf to me? This has changed over my life.

It started when I was 5 as a way to spend more time with my dad. He liked golf so I took it up. Then when I was about 15 I started to play with my friends who played. It was to spend time hanging out with friends. Then around 18 we started to gamble (still do when with them). This has always been fun for me. It makes it very competitive and we force each other to play by the rules, plus our own rules (like if you don’t get it past the red tees your next shot is with your pants down). I still enjoy playing money rounds and games like wolf when we get together. But I recently moved away from most the people I know and don’t have many people to play with in my new town. So I have started focusing on getting better.
jasonfish11 says:
When I was young my dad wanted to caddy for me on Sunday at the US Open. So about 2 years ago I told him “I don’t think I’ll ever get that good but I have a goal of getting to a 1.4 handicap by the time I’m 35 so you can caddy for me at regional qualifying for the US Open.” Since then I’ve been working on getting better. I’ve dropped my handicap from 18 to 11.

That is the shortest I can make that answer.
bkuehn1952 says:
I play golf because in 1960 someone talked my father into joining a 9 hole course in Appleton, WI. My mother thought the kids should learn to play golf so before the snow had melted there we were in the YMCA gymnasium hitting wiffle golf balls off rubber mats.

I continue to play golf because I like walking outdoors, enjoy the competition, find the challenge of scoring compelling and realize that despite my age and relatively small size, I can play the game competently.
slimpks1850 says:
Likey the question. I don't play golf, golf plays me. That's what I enjoy. The complexity. It requires focus under pressure.

1-Yes, all the above. Wouldn't every golfer want to be the best in the world at all aspects of the game? Since we know we can't "hit better golf shots more often" is a great compromise.
2-If I had to choose: long or accurate - easy choice, accurate.
3-Living in NE & playing out there now... I enjoy the outdoors the most playing golf in the nice/warm weather. I also prefer to walk the course.
4-Golfing with close friends is always better. Just golfed with a childhood friend's grandfather I hadn't seen in 10+ years. That was a great experience. Tried to entice the wife to get into golf earlier this summer. It is not going well. haaa.
5-Winning is winning. I don't bet on golf. It doesn't add anything to a round.
bkuehn1952 says:
1. The ultimate measuring stick is score and that is what I value. To that end, hitting quality shots more often is certainly the best way to score better. But I think one has to recognize that it is easier to hit a decent 9 iron shot than a 5 iron so length plays a part in scoring, too.

2. I would trade length for low scores but for someone who is already somewhat length-challenged, I don't really see how giving up yards is going to help me score better. In a sense, I have already given up length by styling my swing to be smooth, consistent and to avoid the big error.

3. Being outside is great when one is doing something one loves. Just being outside doesn't work for me if I am not engaged in a fun activity.

4. Doing fun things with people you love or like is great and it does not have to be golf.

5. I like golf competitions but playing against par keeps me focused.
Wes11point5 says:
Golf has always been about the "what could have been" and the promise of the next round. The last two rounds I have played have had glimpses of potential of what I know I am capable of. I shot 40 on the front nine of a pretty hard course with a triple bogie and a three putt. That could have been a 36 or 37. The next round I shot a 90 with 2 quadruple and 1 triple bogie. I will tell the story of that round in the open forum because it is a funny tale about catching up to a very rude golfer. At its core golf has been a love-hate relationship at time but I will always come back.
Jattruia says:
1. Since i really got more serious about golf, it's been about improving and winning. I have love crunching the numbers on every aspect of the game to see where i'm missing out, and where i need to improve.

2. Hitting the long ball is great, and very gratifying. But i'd MUCH rather be consistent. As I've improved, I've gained just as much gratification from hitting a long iron onto the green, as out driving the rest of the group, possibly more.

3. Outside is great. I don't think there's anything better than being out there early in the am with dew still on the grass. It's perfect.

4. Also, getting a round in with some close friends, or taking that golf vacation/long weekend is always a good time. Not that a solo round here and there isn't necessary from time to time.

5. I want to win, every time. But i don't gamble or play side games so much. It takes away from the game for me. However, I've recently played my first tourney (World AM), and there's nothing like tourney golf.
dottomm says:
This is a great topic. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I think golf is the greatest game ever conceived but I struggle with the idea that your score is what determines what kind of a round you are having. We’ve all had rounds where no matter how well we’re hitting the ball, we’re just not scoring well, or the inverse, where making clean contact seems impossible but the ball keeps ending up in scoring range. There are too many variables that can happen in a round of golf. I’ve learned that just because I’ve just not scoring well, doesn’t mean I’m not hitting good shots. I would almost (I do mean almost) rather get up and down from a bunker for a bogey save with a 20’ putt than 2-putt for par from a 9-iron approach. I guess what I want from Golf is I want to perform. I want to try (and succeed at) low percentage shots…and in front of my peers.
rmartin310 says:
For me golf is an athletic competition that you can do the rest of your life, unlike baseball, football, or basketball. I love to bet on the course, but since I've moved to TN most of my friends here aren't the same caliber of players so I don't gamble much at all anymore. The feeling of executing a shot exactly as planned is one of the greatest feelings in the world, second to hitting a putt that you know is going in from the start.

And oh yea, I play because I'm good at it.
legitimatebeef says:
1. Lowest score I can squeeze out of myself is the goal every time. The satisfaction of hitting it flush is kind of its own thing.
2. Damn right it is gratifying.
3. Too simplified. Outdoors for outdoors sake never really did anything for me.
4. Time with others is okay, but optional for me. If I were the Omega man, I would play a lot of golf, at least 4-5 times a week.
5. Also optional.

Why do I play? It's the funnest game there is, and that's about the best answer I can come up with.
mjaber says:
1. A challenge. I've always been fairly athletic, and my first trip to the driving range showed me that it was harder than it looked.

2. I'll take long and straight over short and straight. Other than that, it depends on the situation. You don't have to always be accurate, and you don't always have to be long. Need is dictated by circumstance.

3. Being outside is nice. Yes, there is excersize, assuming you walk. 7,000 yards is about 4 miles.

4. Golf has become "alone time" for me. I've forgone alot of golf for time with my family, as working 2 jobs limits my free time.

5. The goal is to have fun, and meet the challenge, solve the puzzle, and find the next one.
sjduffers says:
1. Hitting better shots more often is a good goal, accompanied with better scores as that is the proof in the pudding. I don't need impossible for me challenges (i.e. 7000+ yd tracks or 240 carries over water), but it's nice to have to think a bit before just blasting away.

2. I am fairly accurate and not very long (220-230yd drive average), so I am working on getting a bit longer without losing accuracy. I have gained probably 20yds so far doing that, and without changing driver/woods equipment. With my irons, I lost distance with a new set, but gained accuracy as measured in GIRs.

3. Being outside is nice. Doing something with a purpose while outside is nicer. Walking a round of golf is really nice when done in a reasonable amount of time (5 hours is way too long). In fact, between walking and golfing and walking the dog, I had lost 45 lbs at one point. So, yes it can be exercise, if done with a purpose: don't stroll leisurely, walk with intent!
sjduffers says:
4. I play most of my rounds paired with strangers with the occasional ones with friends or family. I am having a good time regardless.

5. I never bet with a stranger and have a little wager (e.g.. $1 Nassau) with friends or family just for the bragging rights, but not always. It’s entirely optional. I also play in tournaments with my associate club (club without a course, roaming around, playing monthly or so), so I know that kind of pressure, including match play… which is where the real competition is.
Duke of Hazards says:
My reasons are pretty run of the mill.

1. 'Better shots, more often' pretty much sums it up.
2. I'm long enough, need more consistency.
3. Being outside and walking/exercise is of secondary benefit, not a primary
4. Playing with others - also a secondary consideration.
That being said, imo- playing solo is only enjoyable on an empty course,
which is rare.
5. Fun. I've never bet on the golf course before, but would try it.
Mr_X says:
1) I don't know any regular golfer who wants anything from the game. Golf is a challenge. We enjoy pursuing that challenge of pulling together a string of good shots. There is a thrill and difficulty to both the mental game and the physical game which really is not combined in any other sport or activity.

To the question of "what is a better golf shot"? A good golf shots is one that you plan out ahead of time, envision before taking the shot and then watch the ball fly along the intended path after striking the ball. The best shots of my life all had those three aspects.

2) Big drives, whether that 200 yard are 270, are part of the physical challenge. I have played some great 18 hole par three courses. They are never as satisfying as a full length 18 because your distance is never pushed to the limit. I will trade my quest for distance for accuracy when start playing shuffle board.
Mr_X says:
3-4) Outside, exercise, buddies, family, cigars, bloody mary's - blah, blah, blah!!! These are all perks of golf. They are not reasons we play golf. I have played at least 12 rounds this year by myself. I have played in the rain. I have played with family members who I really don't care for. (These are people who married into the family - not blood). And, I have played a couple rounds rounds this month in the low 40s. Real golfer love the game. Do I prefer to golf with friends on a sunny spring day? Sure, but I am going golfing if the weather is bad and my freinds stand me up.

5) I could take or leave gambling on the course. In 50 + rounds I played in 2013 I have probably gambled a total of $100. It is not a big factor for me. I play in a few tournaments and different match play events. I find those events the most rewarding regardless of my performance because it heightens the challenge.
Shallowface says:
1. It started in 1973 when a school friend and I took it up. His dad played a bit, and my dad took it up with me. I loved the fact that it was something I could do on my own and not have to be part of a team.
2. I was a long hitter (122 MPH clubhead speed with a steel shafted wooden driver in 1980). Gave it up for accuracy and a game that would travel well. Now I'd like to have some distance back. But hitting greens in regulation is the thing for me.
3. Being outdoors doesn't really do anything for me, and there's really no exercise to speak of.
4. I'm happy to play alone or with one other person. I really don't like the time aspect of playing in a foursome. It's a sport, not a social activity. BTW, two of my three holes in one were in solo rounds, and that never bothered me.
5. I don't gamble. I don't play tournaments because I am not going to do my best in six hour rounds. I keep very detailed stats, and I play for the satisfaction of seeing those stats improve. That's all I need.
CeeBee says:
1. Best possible score every time out.
2.I am hitting it longer and harder now more often than at any time. It's great! However I am not considered a long hitter. GIR is what I strive to improve.
3.I work outside for a living so that is not an issue.
4.I go solo, hook up on the tee or with friends. I take my tee times seriously which means I'm there ready and on time. A few years ago one of my partners and I had a tee time set for almost a week. He called and said could not make it as he and his wife were going to celebrate their anniversary a day early. WTF. I said " Dude, you've been with the same woman for over 30 years and the sex will be the same. You have a chance to play a course 70 years old that we have never seen before, immaculate condition with the possibility you could shoot the round of your life. No brainer.
5.The true competition is between me and the course. I want to BEAT par knowing full well the reality of it. But I still try. It's all about the next shot.
DougE says:
1. To get better .....and better.....and better. That usually translates to hitting good golf shots more consistently.
2. It would be fun to hit my drives 20 or 30 yards longer, but not at the expense of accuracy. I don't drive it that far now (225-245), but I usually keep it in play off the tee, which goes a long way in keeping scores under control. Very few blow up holes.
3. I am an outdoorsy person, so yes, playing golf is great. But I do it to challenge myself, not just to be outside. I play in all sorts of weather from rain to wind to cold to even a bit of snow.
4. Golf is quality time. Thankfully my wife understands my addiction with the game....for the most part.
5. Could care less about the betting aspect of the game. If I never had another nickel riding on a shot, it would not affect my passion for the game.
Ianinho says:
1. All of the above!

2. Would absolutely trade distance for hitting it closer. And I'm not a long hitter to start with

3. It's a bonus advantage but not really why I decide to play.

4. As a competitive player, its sometimes nice to just play with friends/family and not get wrapped up with the score

5. 90% of the time is to win. I rarely bet on the course, just try to beat my handicap
joe jones says:
I like golf because it is just about the only game that involves just your ability and your ability to control your emotions. It can be played by yourself with the battle being between you and the course.The course becomes your competitor. Some of the best times I have had were alone with just my thoughts and the elements. I can't think of many things that are more satisfying than looking at a difficult shot, planning how you are going to pull it off and then doing it exactly as you envisioned it. Nirvana!
snuffyword says:
I concur with joe jones. I love the sport/game of golf because of the concept of getting a ball in a hole, the rules involved, the different aspects of the game (driving, iron play, short game, putting, etc.), the beauty of certain courses or certain holes, and the people you meet. I play golf to improve my skills. I want to be able to consistently hit quality shots and get better at scrambling. When I can do that, I will score better and eventually, it will lead to a better round and a win here and there. At times, I get more upset with my shot execution than what I scored on a hole. I enjoy the challenge I put on myself to get better and the challenge of a golf course to make par.
snuffyword says:
Ever since I became a golf junkie, I have developed into being a student of the game, the swing, course management, and the equipment involved. I have learned strategies, changed philosophies on how to play the game, and discovered Eidolon and Scor golf clubs. I am also fascinated with the history of the game and all the people who made it so. From players to course designers to equipment manufacturers, etc, etc. This is the only game I know that you have to be truthful to yourself at all times and get no assistance. You know your abilities and limitations, you have to call your own penalties, it's you against the course. You can have a caddy help you to read a putt but it's up to you to putt. This is the only sport/game I can think of that you must only depend on yourself to succeed or not in an honorable manner.
snuffyword says:
That being said, I enjoy a relaxed and fun round with my friends at times but I prefer to play competively. For me, golf isn't really worth playing unless there's some sort of competition. That's the only way I can commit myself to improve and get to a lower handicap. Thanks for letting me pontificate.
sv677 says:
For me it's the challenge of the game. I am still trying to shoot below 70. I have had several chances and blown every one so far. (But it will happen.) Score or no score, the best part is/was playing with my son in Scotland.
jpjeffery says:
Score? Hitting it longer/closer?
What I want from my golf game is to NEVER score over 99 EVER again. So "hit better golf shots more often" is more like "hit crap awful golf shots less often".

Is hitting the "long ball" really all that gratifying?
Yes, but long for me isn't really all that long. With further reference to question 1, what I really want is to get EVERY short airborne, and more-or-less in the correct direction.

Outside? Exercise?
Meh. I hate the combination of hot AND sunny and I hate high winds. The ideal combo of mild temperature and high light clouds with a gentle breeze happens far too infrequently for the idea of being outside as the attraction to apply.
jpjeffery says:
Time with my loved ones?
I'm not really all that sociable but I do prefer to not play alone. I enjoy playing with my friend Col unless he's being grumpy from playing badly. Once the round is over I'd rather just go straight home.

Fun or To Win?
The number of times I've played competitively can be counted on the fingers of one hand...with fingers to spare. The last time was a few weeks ago when I was playing two-ball match play. I must admit I enjoyed it a lot (although I wish I'd played more tactically) but usually it's more about learning how to play the game at the moment (so me vs myself).
jpjeffery says:
Overall, there's a civilised beauty to golf which I like. I like that it's a gentleman's game and that I can play any time I like (I used to play baseball, but that was only on Sundays and I needed eight other players plus an opposition team and if we were the home team we had to worry about who the heck was going to umpire).
eabaskervill says:
1. What I get from golf is a challenge for self-improvement. The goal is to become automatic at getting the ball in the hole with the least amount of strokes. I want a lower score every 18.

2. Golf is about getting a consistent combination of both accuracy and length according to your body and skill. There is no either-or. You need both to score lower.

3. Being outside and the exercise are simply bonuses. There is an admiration for the course and appreciation for nature, but it is all secondary. What the outdoors does is provide yet another uncontrollable challenge.

4. The camaraderie is a bonus for me. If anything it is more of a motivation, both competitively and as a support group. Surprisingly, golf has been a significant bond for my family.

5. I do not really compete with others. I've always preferred man vs self conflicts and golf provides the best platform. The fun comes with a combination of playing well, the company you play with, course appeal and fair weather.
falcon50driver says:
I play to supplement my income.
QuickBrownFox says:
The golf course is my happy place. When I play alone or in company for a social round, the natural surroundings enahnace my enjoyment of the game and give me a sense of euphoria.

But that's not it. I love the challenge of hitting better shots, to score better against myself/handicap and in competition. I enjoy the social side of competing against others in club competition, but most of all it's the personal improvement challenge.

I share a lot of golf experiences with my 12 yr old son (who can hit it pretty good), and for me this is icing on the cake.
dukedsp says:
1. Score. I enjoy hitting longer, hitting closer and pulling off really tough shots but it boils down to I would rather score well than have any of that.

2.I would only trade distance for better scoring.

3. Outside and exercise are part of it, but not significant.

4. Most of my rounds are by myself so I like the quiet but always enjoy rounds with friends.

5. Fun when I am practicing or playing with friends, to win when I am playing in tournaments.
Kurt the Knife says:
I like that its difficult. Likely spend decades playing and never master it. Wife and I like we can thake the pastime into our later years together. We like walking around in the grass. There are beautiful places in the world to do it with many varied layouts. Neither one of us care about long balls but we do enjoy the occasional good short-length shot and well-read putt.
so, there.
Gromit5 says:
I feel at home on the golf course. If I'm on a brief vacation, I love discovering a new course and just pulling off the road to sit and take in the atmosphere. Having a good friend to share the game with is rare and valuable. When I play, I enjoy trying to hit the shot that a situation calls for. The closer I am to the green, the more I like to tap into being creative. Golf, more than any other sport, offers endless aspects in which you can involve yourself. As a former freelance golf writer, I miss the pleasure of reading a fine magazine dedicated to variety and depth. I am very fortunate to have worked during the years when small companies could survive, thrive and be discovered, before the onset of giants that dominate the market with gaudy products that are indistinguishable, for the most part, from each other.
Matt McGee says:
I keep meaning to get back here when I have some time, and it hasn't happened. I'll give the abbreviated responses, I guess.
1. I want the challenge of bettering my game, and being outdoors.
2. I like the long ball, but I'd much rather make good contact, hit the type of shot that I'm trying for, and be accurate.
3. It is exercise (I walk every course that I can). It is being outdoors, as well, and spending time with friends.
4.It is spending time with others, but I also enjoy playing by myself. Nine after work qualifies as therapy, for me.
5. I enjoy playing tournaments, but the win definitely isn't the most important thing, either in those or in games with friends. I guess golf is more about a personal accomplishment for me than it is about contests against others. If I could never bet on a round again, it wouldn't make any difference in my game.
windowsurfer says:
+1 to Kurt the K. Plus: for me being the long guy off the tee is not unimportant -hate bein consistently short - but def NOT the obsession it is w/ lots of guys (yelling: "Jeez, all I hit was my wedge from 150 & I'm still frickin long!" Ya, right. Shutty.) I like the competition -- all us ex-jocks bearing down like it was the Masters, not a coupla bucks. I love the needlin. The BOYZ! (Harry Chapin warns us to enjoy it while we can -- hips be damned!) Being outside? YES! That is huge! The endless variability is astounding - on the same course! And links golf -- a whole nuther game. Exercise? Ya and if its too little for your big muscles - walk, carry, play more holes, find a hilly course. Jog between holes, Bo, knock yerself out. Self-policing - that is SO COOL. And hard to live up to, sometimes. Equipment - it is awesome with laser beams on its head. Sooo shiny. And technical. Golf encourages you to forget your petty woes and trade them for even pettier golf woes. Perfect!
windowsurfer says:
Oh yeah, and SKORTS!
windowsurfer says:
Although, mine doesn't fit worth a damn.
slimpks1850 says:
and the winner is???
Tazz says:
For me - Hitting better golf shots more often.
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