Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Golf Apologetic

Yesterday's post struck a chord (two comments!), so I think I'll write a bit more about morality. But tonight, I want to do one more short sports piece.

During last week's British Open, there was a stir caused by comments made by Gary Player (veteran South African golfer). Player apparently said something to the effect that he suspected steroids were probably already on the pro tour (presumably the PGA Tour and/or the European Tour).

Now, as a Christian, I believe that all men are fallen, and so I'm not going to suggest that Player was entirely wrong in his comments. Nonetheless, I'm going to take a one-post hiatus from being a Christian apologist in order to be a golf apologist. Specifically, I'm going to give you four reasons I think golf is perhaps the least likely sport to have to worry about illegal steroid use.

Reason #4. Male professional golfers come in a variety of body shapes. Most tour pros do not conjure up the buff-ness associated with steroid use. Tiger is a very fit exception, but you'd have to think awhile to come up with another. Meanwhile, you can think of many that you just know are not benefitting from steroid use (or even the weight room). Think John Daly, Fuzzy Zoeller, or (on the other end of the spectrum) Jesper Parnevik, Charles Howell the 3rd, or Aaron Baddely.

Reason #3. Whereas a primary reason athletes in other sports take steroids is to increase strength, golfers require a delicate balance between strength and flexibility. Indeed, making it to the PGA Tour is such a difficult task that no player--having accomplished that task--would risk throwing it away by upsetting the balance (of strength and flexibility) that helped get them there.

Reason #2. The other thing steroids do for athletes is to decrease the time required for injuries to heal. Evidence that pro golfers are not currently using steroids is the simple fact that every week they withdraw from tournaments (with million-dollar purses) because of seemingly minor injuries of the sort that we 18-handicappers (who have to hold down more conventional jobs) play and work through on a regular basis.

Reason #1. This is the main one. Personal integrity is still at the very heart of golf. Professional golfers invariably report their own infringement of some obscure rule even though no one else would ever have known and even though the resulting penalty can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars. I guess that's a part of why I'm a golf fan.


Anonymous said...

I'm of course biased since I'm a huge golfer but you are correct and with respect to reason #1.

Jack Bryant said, "Golf is an honorable game, with the overwhelming majority of players being honorable people who don't need referees. Golfers don't have some of their players in jail every week. Golfers don't kick dirt on, or throw bottles at, other people. Professional golfers are paid in direct proportion to how well they play. Golfers don't get per diem and two seats on a charter flight when they travel between tournaments. Golfers don't hold out for more money, or demand new contracts, because of another player's deal. Professional golfers don't demand that the taxpayers pay for the courses on which they play. When golfers make a mistake, nobody is there to cover for them or back them. The PGA raises more money for charity in one year than the NFL does in two."

Besides these truisms, Golf is the most emotionally challenging their sport there is. Just ask the guys coming down the stretch at the British Open last week. What's great is how many times have you gone out and played a really horrible round of golf but you had that one shot that was executed just like you intended to perfection. And it's that shot that makes you want to come back for more. Golf is much like life in that it's a journey, not a destination - ENJOY THE RIDE!

Rick Gerhardt said...


I couldn't agree more.

Say, could you scramble with us at Meadow Lakes on Friday, 31 August (it's the Friday leading into Labor Day weekend)?

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