A.A. Milne once said, “Golf is so popular simply because it is the best game in the world at which to be bad.” Beginners may know the feeling, but – for those yet to catch the golfing bug – this article presents seven reasons for its growing popularity in the Southern Suburbs.
1. The Great Outdoors
For newcomers, probably golf’s biggest attraction is that it offers a chance to spend the day out in beautiful natural surroundings. You get some light exercise as you stroll around the course, enjoying the sun and breathing fresh air. This is why golf is often said to have a ‘restorative’ effect on people, and why even a day spent looking for stray balls in the trees can feel truly well spent. Many people combine golfing with other passions, such as birding, making the experience of nature even more complete.
2. A Sport for Life
Unlike contact sports, or other forms of exercise that might put stress on your joints, golf is a sport you could feasibly play for the rest of your life. This is not only because of its relatively undemanding physical aspect – it also speaks to the confounding (and addictive) difficulty of the sport. Once your basic game is mastered, seasoned golfers will tell you, that’s when the real work begins. Golf requires you to invest time and patience, you need to be dedicated in order to improve, and it is this kind of life-long mental investment in the sport that led Bobby Jones to say, “Golf is a game played on a five-inch course – the distance between your ears.”
Golf is a wonderful game for purists: for those who like to remain ‘sporting’ even while in the throes of competition. It is full of written and unwritten rules that promote respect for other players and good sportsmanship. It is also a humbling sport, as anybody is ‘only ever as good as their next shot’ (one of the game’s favourite adages), and – according to some psychologists – it teaches great lessons in strategy and responsibility, as you are always left to “play the ball as it lies.”
4. The Social Aspect
Of course, playing sport is very rarely just about you – and golf offers a wonderful way to interact with friends and family members over an extended period of time and in a relaxed, invigorating atmosphere. Especially when playing with others more or less on your level, golf offers great bonding opportunities as you struggle – and improve – together with the others in your group. It is easy to find other solo golfers to pair up with for a friendly round of golf: use apps and social network sites such as Tee Off Buddies and Social Par to hook up with other golfers in your area.
5. The Business Aspect
“I’m not feeling very well,” said Groucho Marx. “I need a doctor immediately. Ring the nearest golf course!” While it is a cliché of sorts – and the sport is certainly becoming less ‘exclusive’ over time – there is still something about golf that is synonymous with notions of wealth and success; the imagination conjures scenes of deals getting made on the course and then closed later in the clubhouse. Indeed, economists have written extensively about the subject, concluding that there may be something to the idea that when golfing, you get to spend a lot of time with associates, providing space to talk and the opportunity to show your mettle as you navigate the course.
6. World-Class Courses
Cape Town (and the Western Cape, more generally) is an internationally sought-after golfing destination. You don’t need to travel to Sun City or even as far as Fancourt to experience top-quality golf courses: you can stretch your legs on some of the finest greens in the Southern Hemisphere right here in the Mother City.
Hotspots include the Royal Cape Golf Club in Wynberg; the Mowbray Golf Course; the Rondebosch Golf Course; there is a great driving range at the River Club in Observatory, and – further down the Peninsula – there is the Clovelly Golf Course and Country Club; the Steenberg Golf Course; the Westlake Golf Course and the tricky, 9-hole Simon’s Town Golf Course. The Metropolitan Golf Club is situated in Mouille Point, near the Green Point Stadium, offering a spectacular urban setting crisscrossed by bird-filled lakes and bridges.
7. Local Interest on the Global Stage
South Africa has a long, rich history of professional golfing. From Gary Player to Ernie Els, Retief Goosen to Trevor Immelman, this country has produced some of the world’s best—and with this proud heritage, comes a legacy of professional support networks and international exposure. The Professional Golf Association’s South African chapter (the PGA SA) oversees numerous tournaments each year, and offers keen golfers various opportunities to deepen their level of engagement with the sport, from booking a lesson with a local pro to poring over their extensive online resources.