So Nike is dropping out of the golf equipment business. Can you blame them? I don’t. Golf sucks.
I am going on record to say that golf is a stupid, ridiculous game and an enormous waste of time. I’m sure if you’re a golf lover you’re offended by these accusations. The game is played by millions, you say. It’s a beloved sport that’s been enjoyed all over the world for centuries. It’s a game of skill and patience and discipline. Not only that, you contend, golf is a social game, played in exclusive country clubs, public grounds and beautiful courses. And, most importantly, it’s been a tried-and-true business networking activity enjoyed by CEOs, executives and just about every occupant of the Oval Office ever since there’s been an Oval Office.
OK, I’ll concede all that. But golf still sucks. I don’t even have to explain why because you already know. But if you want to make a case for golf, then try answering these five, reasonable questions. I’ve got an open mind.
Question 1: Where the hell do you get the time to play golf?
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My friends that play golf spend a lot of time…playing golf. This is not a quick activity. They show up at their clubs before dawn on a Saturday and by the time they’re done with 18 holes the dining room is cleaning up from lunch. Some of my clients knock off entire afternoons to play golf. How is this possible? If I told my wife that I was disappearing for a morning to play golf with my buddies and leave her home with my three screaming kids it wouldn’t be just the golf balls I’d be afraid of losing that day. And what would my employees think if I’m out in the sun on a Wednesday while they’re stuck in their cubicles trying to calm down unhappy customers or getting invoices out the door? This game takes too much commitment.
Question 2: What exactly do you do for exercise?
Because I know you aren’t getting it from golf. What do you have to show for it after spending all that time on the course? You’ve actually gained weight from the obligatory post-game lunch and drinks.
This is not helping extend your lifespan. A true sport requires real exercise.Sweating. Exertion. Strength. None of this happens in golf. In golf, you’re getting no exercise, you're just stressing out over missed shots, then trying to forget it all with a few shots of Jack Daniels and a chicken-fried steak. Meanwhile, you could play a mere hour of basketball, tennis, squash (that’s my sport and yes, you can make fun of me) or a jog and burn way more calories in much less time. To me, golf is like softball -- fun with absolutely no health benefit.
Question 3: Do you actually enjoy failing?
Because if you do, you’ve picked the right sport. Golf is impossible. I’m convinced that those guys on the professional circuit are either magicians, aliens or are in cahoots with the TV networks that are editing videos to make it look like they’re as good as they are. No one can do the things that they do -- it’s clearly fabricated. But there you are, trying to emulate Mickelson or Woods…and failing. Really, really failing. At least in other sports you’ve got some chance of feeling proud of yourself. And if you just work out on your own, you’ll always be the winner. But putting that little ball in a hole from hundreds of yards away in only three strokes is abnormal. You’re not going to do it. Just by walking on the course you’ve begun failing. Don’t you fail enough in business? You have to add to your misery on a golf course too?
Question 4: Why are you playing with clients?
Are you nuts? I thought the whole point of a client-related social activity was to build relationships and further your mutual business goals. Instead, you’re either intentionally playing worse so as not to show him up or pretending you don’t notice the 50 year old VP of Sales throw a tantrum like a 10 year old. Neither scenario is pretty. My advice: when trying to win the deal or cement your client relationships avoid talking about politics and avoid playing golf. It will only end up in tears.
Question 5: Finally, how in the world can you afford all this?
The few times I’ve played golf I’ve come to understand something inherent in American society: there are some really freaking rich people in this country. How else could they afford the dues, capital contributions, green fees, lunches, clothing and equipment all necessary to make themselves look like a player? Where do these people get their money? They’ve got so much money that they can afford to plunk down (literally) $10,000 to $50,000 a year for this ridiculous sport? This, while school children in Philadelphia are going without textbooks? Jogging costs nothing. A membership at a typical health club which often offers swimming, yoga and other healthy activities costs maybe a grand a year. My squash membership is $400 annually. Golf costs way too much money.
So please, persuade me. Convince me that golf is really worth it. As you can see, you’re going to have a hard sell. Because, just like Nike, I’m definitely not interested.