Golf Reveals Us

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Eighteen holes of match play will teach you more about your foe than 18 years of dealing with him across a desk. Grantland Rice

The game of golf tends to bring out the best and worst in people, and – more than most sports – reveals a great deal about the people who play it, such as why someone consistently chokes under pressure, beats himself up, or swings too hard. Golf is a compelling metaphor for life, and every golfer knows that what they experience on the golf course is surprisingly similar to what they experience in life. Indeed, a lot can be learned about people from the way they play golf. Play a few holes with someone and you immediately know if he or she is a good sport or a cutthroat competitor, honest or a cheat, hotheaded or easygoing. But just as we can learn to use what we know about life to our advantage on the golf course, we inevitably learn about life from our experiences with this game. Perhaps this is what it’s all about: when we involve ourselves in becoming better golfers, we become better people.

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  • http://www.wellplayed.us/ Dan Laukitis

    Counterpoint: golf reveals a lot about people… playing golf. It’s a bit facile to generalize from what one observes on the golf course (any field of play) to other areas of the person’s life (e.g., business, family life). Certainly, context matters: somebody giving himself a putt in a casual game doesn’t automatically mean he’s also creating tax loopholes, if for no other reason than his appraisal of the different consequences of getting caught (a low level of moral development, but common enough). My guess is there have been more mistakes in this regard than accurate predictions about how someone’s behavior in sport translates into the board room. We would be wise to limit the extent to which we extrapolate sports behavior to character and personality type. Yet, all that said, I think it’s safe to say that what we see on the field says something important about the person, no matter how seriously they take the sport.