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When It's All Said And Done, Is A Lifetime Of Golf Really Worth It

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 

I dabbled in golf with my dad as a teenager, but didn't get serious about it until my mid 20's. I'm in my early 40's now, and I am at a point where I am really reflecting on whether or not the time and money I pour into this game is a worthwhile endeavor. I have all the shots in golf but rarely put them all together in a complete 18 hole round. My scores average from the high 70's to low 80's, and it doesn't seem I get much better or worse, regardless of the amount of time I spend practicing, because I always seem to have 2 or 3 "key" horrible shots that lead to disastrous scores on those holes. I have spent a lot of money on clubs, balls, shoes, gloves, range balls, greens fees, a few lessons, tournament fees, etc... over the years, to say nothing of the incredible time spent on this game on the range, at the course, and travel in between, and I'm really wondering what I have to show for it.

 

What gets me is, even if I was finally able to break through and shoot scratch to mid 70's...so what. A million people can shoot scratch to mid 70's. What does that do for me that has any lasting value. It's unlikely I will ever make money in this game so the time, money and effort to shoot lower scores just becomes some kind of bragging rights thing.

 

I know every hobby costs time and money, such as hunting and fishing, but even hunters and fishermen have their harvest to show for it and enjoy with the whole family at the dinner table.

 

I just kind of feel I am at a crossroads with golf. I'm at the mid point of my life and I'm really wondering if I should continue to spend the time, money and effort in pursuit of perfection in golf for the last half of my life, or give it up and pursue something else in my spare time that is more meaningful and valueable. I will say, to not practice at all and to play only sporadically will likely have me shooting in the upper 80's to low 90's, and when I'm doing that, to be honest, I'd rather be doing something else.

 

I guess I've kind of lost sight of what I'm doing out there, so I thought I'd ask fellow golfers if they've ever experienced similar feelings, and how they've handled them, or what new goals have rejuvenated them. Sorry to be a downer for everybody, but looking forward to hearing some feedback. Thanks a lot.

post #2 of 52

Maybe you need to change your goals and reassess what you want out of golf.

 

I like to get outside, enjoy the surroundings, camaraderie, and play the game. 

 

I accept that I will be inconsistent, that I will throw up a bunch of pars, some birdies, and I will blow up on a few holes - but I accept that golf is a difficult game - and don't allow a few blow ups to color my enjoyment of the game.

post #3 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond View Post

Maybe you need to change your goals and reassess what you want out of golf.

 

I like to get outside, enjoy the surroundings, camaraderie, and play the game. 

 

I accept that I will be inconsistent, that I will throw up a bunch of pars, some birdies, and I will blow up on a few holes - but I accept that golf is a difficult game - and don't allow a few blow ups to color my enjoyment of the game.

Agreed. I've only really picked up golf in the last 2 years, so I may not be able to provide the same perspective. But, I play because I enjoy the nice walk, catching up with my friends, all the while having the goal of being relatively competitive one day in my club. 

 

Especially with the recent addition to our family, it's been great to be able to step away for a round with some guys.

post #4 of 52

I guess if you can't do it simply because you enjoy it, then you ought to quit.   I don't see why there has to be anything more to it.  For me it's the challenge along with the social aspect of hanging with my friends. 

 

I've played since the mid 70's, and for 22 years I played in up to 15 Mens Club tournaments every year, but now I'm living on an island with no golf available, so I guess I can't understand you at all.  I'd give anything right now to be able to drive over to a course and play a round - I'd even take a 6 hour round.  Instead I'm sitting here at the computer reading your whine about how you need some esoteric reason to inspire you to play.  I'm afraid you have to figure that one out for yourself, because I haven't got a clue what's going on in your head.
 

post #5 of 52

A hobby is something you for the sheer enjoyment of doing it.  If you're expecting a payoff from your hobby you likely have picked the wrong one, unless you're going to play a lot of golf for money and know how to hustle people. 

 

My two current hobbies are long distance running and golf.  I have no aspirations or expectations to make a dime off of either one.  I run because I like how I feel after doing it, knowing I'm doing everything I can to stay healthy and maximize my life.  Golf has a health aspect but it's more social.   I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and being with family, friends, business partners and co-workers in a beautiful setting away from the normal pressures of life. 

 

It sounds like you are in the beginning stages of a mid-life crisis and are reassessing your life to this point.  I hope it all works out well for you. 

post #6 of 52

You could say this about 100s of things in life, why do people watch tv, films, play any sport at a non elite level. 

 

A

post #7 of 52

I can understand that completely.  There were a few times earlier in my playing days when I would get stuck and felt like I couldn't get any better, very frustrating.  The best thing to do if you're at that point is to take a break and come back to it.  

 

I guess that's the human condition though, nothing's ever good enough a3_biggrin.gif

post #8 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by thinblueline View Post

I dabbled in golf with my dad as a teenager, but didn't get serious about it until my mid 20's. I'm in my early 40's now, and I am at a point where I am really reflecting on whether or not the time and money I pour into this game is a worthwhile endeavor. I have all the shots in golf but rarely put them all together in a complete 18 hole round. My scores average from the high 70's to low 80's, and it doesn't seem I get much better or worse, regardless of the amount of time I spend practicing, because I always seem to have 2 or 3 "key" horrible shots that lead to disastrous scores on those holes. I have spent a lot of money on clubs, balls, shoes, gloves, range balls, greens fees, a few lessons, tournament fees, etc... over the years, to say nothing of the incredible time spent on this game on the range, at the course, and travel in between, and I'm really wondering what I have to show for it.

 

What gets me is, even if I was finally able to break through and shoot scratch to mid 70's...so what. A million people can shoot scratch to mid 70's. What does that do for me that has any lasting value. It's unlikely I will ever make money in this game so the time, money and effort to shoot lower scores just becomes some kind of bragging rights thing.

 

I know every hobby costs time and money, such as hunting and fishing, but even hunters and fishermen have their harvest to show for it and enjoy with the whole family at the dinner table.

 

I just kind of feel I am at a crossroads with golf. I'm at the mid point of my life and I'm really wondering if I should continue to spend the time, money and effort in pursuit of perfection in golf for the last half of my life, or give it up and pursue something else in my spare time that is more meaningful and valueable. I will say, to not practice at all and to play only sporadically will likely have me shooting in the upper 80's to low 90's, and when I'm doing that, to be honest, I'd rather be doing something else.

 

I guess I've kind of lost sight of what I'm doing out there, so I thought I'd ask fellow golfers if they've ever experienced similar feelings, and how they've handled them, or what new goals have rejuvenated them. Sorry to be a downer for everybody, but looking forward to hearing some feedback. Thanks a lot.

 

I have a few question for you.  Are their other things that you would rather do with your free time and extra money?  Do you like to practice?  If you have bad round is it still enjoyable for you?  Do you have golfing friends that you would miss? I think if you can answer those questions you will find your answer.  Also your statement of "I'm really wondering if I should continue to spend the time, money and effort in pursuit of perfection in golf" is an unreasonable goal as I am sure you know their is no such thing as perfection in golf.

 

I think at your age and the fact that you have put in the time in practice and lessons that you have most likely reached your peak.  You probably won't get any better and you will eventually start to regress.  Is that acceptable to you.  One of the great things about golf is you can continue to play and play well late into life but if playing at a high leval all the time is what is most important to you you will be disappointed.

 

I don't have any experience with these types of decisions but my mother has.  She played twice a week for 20 years and around the age of 55 her body began to break down.  She had to take ibuprofen to get through the round and was sore for days after.  Her scores also began to get worse and she could not adjust her mindset to think that a 95 was a good score for her instead of an 89 so she would almost always leave the course disappointed and sometimes angry.  She decided to take a break from golf and she hasn't played for over 4 years and to quote my father "She is a much nicer person now."  So for her stopping golf was the right decision for her, but I still hold out hope that sometime in the future she will come out and play 9 again with me and find golf enjoyable again without worrying about the score.

post #9 of 52

I've made millions due to playing golf.  And I'm still an amateur.

 

I started playing golf when I was 11, with my dad.  Going to the course together was our thing, and we spent every Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon together until I left for college.  And, this was at a time in my life--entering my teenage years--when I probably would have otherwise stopped hanging out with Pop voluntarily.

 

I began playing competitive golf when I was 12.  The guys I met on the local junior tours and playing high school golf were my friends--we hung out together.  Because they were all golf guys, they basically all were solid kids from good families:  belonged to clubs, went to church, made good grades, didn't smoke weed, etc.  I probably would have had no interest in school if it weren't for my chosen sport.  But, as it was, I went to school every day and did well--because that was part of the culture of my team and my friends.

 

When I was 18, I was recruited to play golf in college.  Mind you, West Point wasn't a great golf school (I was good but not that good), but WP was a great school.  It changed my life in ways that I could not have possibly imagined.  If it weren't for golf, I would have never even heard of the place; if they hadn't called, I'm sure I would have ended up a junior college dropout.  While I was there, a buddy on the golf team encouraged me to major in Law.  I did, and ended up loving the subject and winning an internship at the US Supreme Court.

 

8 years later I was a Captain in the Army.  I'd graduated with honors from a very prestigious school, led Soldiers on deployments, and traveled the world.  One of my law professors from West Point had told me about the Army's funded law school program, so I applied.  I was accepted, and was now off to law school.

 

I made four very good friends while I was in law school.  All four started out as golf buddies--we played a regular round every Friday afternoon, and emergency rounds whenever we had a break in our course schedules.  Our third year of school we played four times a week.  All four of these guys are very successful people.  They're my closest friends.  One of them is my daughter's Godfather.  When I retire from the Army, I think the chances are pretty high that at least a few of us will go into business together.

 

I'm now a practicing lawyer and Army officer.  I'm as rich in friends and family as any man could possibly be.  Without golf, who knows if any of that would have happened.  Yeah, I'd say that golf was worth it.

post #10 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond View Post

 

I like to get outside, enjoy the surroundings, camaraderie, and play the game. 

 

I accept that I will be inconsistent, that I will throw up a bunch of pars, some birdies, and I will blow up on a few holes - but I accept that golf is a difficult game - and don't allow a few blow ups to color my enjoyment of the game.

It has taken me about ten years of golf to approach this attitude to the game.  I find it a bit sad when I see someone with the attitude I used to have, i.e. an unrealistic expectation of what he/she can achieve on the course.  It spoils enjoyment, and besides it's very bad for your game.

 

- always try to improve.  The great thing about golf is that there's always a lot of room for it ....

- you're in a beautiful place so appreciate it.

- where else can you so effectively escape the usual distractions and obligations in life?

- golf is an extraordinarily difficult game; celebrate your successes out there.

- it sounds trite I know but failures really are an opportunity to learn, if you're willing to THINK.  Me, I've never played a round without many, many learning opportunities ......

- I've had to give up some of my favorite sports for medical reasons.  I plan to play golf until I'm on wheels or slower ....

post #11 of 52
I've thought about the same. Golf gives me lots of joy, but it has also consumed a lot of my time the last years.

For me, it's regulated by how much free time I got. I've accepted that I have to let some things go. When it comes to golf, it's usually the choice between practicing and playing, which I change a bit back and forth.
post #12 of 52

The game owes you nothing. If you're questioning your time and commitment to it, it's real simple. Do something else.

post #13 of 52

i agree with the sentiment that playing golf is not about the score you post, it's about whether or not you enjoy it.  people who enjoy television pay (i'm approximating) $50 a month for cable, which is $600 a year.  is television worth $600  ayear?  not to me, which is why i canceled my cable.  is it worth it to the person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day, which is about a $35 a week habit (or about $1800 a year)?  not in my view, so i don't smoke.  is golf worth (x amount of dollars)?  it is to me because i love golf.

 

in other words, it's your personal preference. if you love playing the game, then i'd say it's worth it.  if you're only in it because you want to shoot 72 every time you go out, i'd advise you take two weeks off and then quit.

post #14 of 52
Golf brings people together in a way that few other activities do.
At best, It can saves lives and provide friendship for otherwise solitary or lonely people.
For the majority it provides a personal challenge that is revitalised every time you tee up.
Unfortunately - and many threads on this site - prove it, many golfers seem to think that the way they play means som ething to others. They want to impress others, even strangers. These are the guys that don't last.That's not to say that one shouldn't be competitive, but your competitive instincts need to be in context with your own aspirations.
Less than 30 putts.
36 points.
Nett 69.
Hit 8 fairways. Whatever.
My goal is to enjoy my round even if after three holes I know I've ruined a score.

Now if you go out and shoot 65 off the stick, honestly, who cares.
If you have nett 61 in a competition with yoiur personal best score, so what? To the other competitors you're a "burglar" playing off a handicap that is too high.

This is how I do my own reality check:
Every time I'm watching the PGA Tour I see how someone did - for example on Thursday, the leader after round one had shot 64 after being 3 over after two holes.
Tim Clarke had 62 yesterday.
So how could my score - whatever it is mean a damn to anyone except myself?

I enjoy being outdoors, I enjoy the friendships I make, I enjoy hitting good shots but I am frustrated every time I play. That's the point.
If it wasn't hard we wouldn't do it.
post #15 of 52

Golf is a hobby for most people that play it. I play because I love the sport, I like the challenge, and it gives me something to do to relax and enjoy myself outside of work and everything else going on. Not to say the game doesn't piss me off from time to time, but it only takes one great shot to forget about the 3 horrible shots I made previously. It's not an easy game to play and play well, I think that's why I love it.

 

But if the time comes that I no longer enjoy playing and actual dread waking up at 6 a.m to make a tee time, then I will take some time off from the game or just quit playing all together. Why do something you don't enjoy? There are other hobbies you can pursue. 

post #16 of 52

If you don't enjoy it, why would you keep doing it?

post #17 of 52
Maybe you are depressed. Are other aspects of your life suffering?
post #18 of 52

Maybe you're remembering the bad shots more than the good ones. The thing is, the bad shots might have a bigger impact on the score, but they're all the same. The bad shots have no meaning. The good shots can only do so much for your score, even if you're having a great round. But I guarantee you'll remember your best shots for years. I still remember the first green in regulation, the first time I made par, the first time I hit over 250 yards, etc.

 

For example, the first par I ever made was the first time I played with my dad and grandfather; my dad never really plays much, my grandfather plays often and loves the game but is getting old and can't play too well anymore. I was only about 3 months into learning the game. I hit a lousy drive, one of many that day. I hit a lousy punch 5 iron that barely got me a view of the green. Then I hit a 9 iron to 3 feet out of 6 inch rough and made the par putt. I don't remember what I shot, I don't really care about the 50 or so other shots that day, or the hundreds I hit at the range up to that point. Or there's the time I hit my first green, playing with my buddy; he putted my ball for birdie without checking if it was his. To this day I always remind him not to play my ball whenever I hit the green. Maybe I could have had the same kind of memories with another sport or hobby, but I never found another sport like golf that motivated me the same way. I've always had goals of getting better even if they're not specific. For example, If I could shoot even par in a round with my dad and grandfather, which I'll have maybe 1-2 chances a year for maybe 3 or 4 more years, I'd be pretty satisfied with that. It would mean a lot more than just getting to scratch. 

 

This game has held my interest longer than most things do; every time my practice sessions seem really rough, I shoot a personal best the next time on the course. Every time I feel pretty down about my game, I end up either learning another key in practice or playing like I have some semblance of control. Maybe that's because I'm young and have a lot of potential while you feel your best years are behind you. Score isn't what makes golf fulfilling, though improving is very satisfying. I'd bet if you stopped practicing as much and played less often your scores might go down or you'd at least have more fun. Hopefully you'll find an answer somehow.

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