Instagrammer/blogger @GolfPeach responds to the recent YouGov poll that revealed golf is the most boring sport to watch
Why Golf Isn't The Most Boring Sport
So, golf is the most boring sport on the planet? What does that say about us?!
Well, the woman golfstagrammers know as GolfPeach (opens in new tab) is decidedly miffed and indignant about the findings of the much-publicised YouGov poll that branded our beloved game one long yawn. But then the same woman of four years ago had never swung a club in anger because… well, golf seemed the most boring sport on the planet.
Golf is sporting marmite.
You either pile it on in layers or you curl your lip at the very mention of it.
Golfing converts often encounter a ‘Road to Jericho’ moment when they suddenly, maybe unexpectedly get a taste for it.
It is at that crossroads when all of the things that made golf seem boring… its slowness, its weird vocabulary, its anal attention to technical detail… are perversely the very same qualities that make it fascinating.
70% of those canvassed simply haven’t found their way to that intersection yet, right?
Now let me say straight away I do kind of agree with the survey! Not the headlines, but the actual YouGov research.
The question their pollsters asked was all about ‘watching’ sports, not ‘playing’ them.
I have been fortunate enough to tee it up alongside one or two pro golfers but I am yet to develop an appetite for trooping around a tournament course to watch them.
I don’t mind tuning into late-night action from somewhere sunny to marvel at how far DJ smashes it but I’d rather be out there myself.
99% of competitive pro golf is 72-hole strokeplay. Our sport’s heroes and heroines spend most of their careers playing against the course.
There is a saying that the Masters doesn’t begin until Amen Corner on Sunday afternoon. Only then do we see the cut-and-thrust of man-against-man that is the essence of most spectator sports.
The Ryder and Solheim Cups are sporting theatre, but too many of the Majors are long processions. Like Test cricket, they are pure sport because the best player wins over 72 holes… but, like Test cricket, they are for the aficionados.
The really worrying thing is that, four years into life as a golfer, I think I’m becoming a bit of an aficionado myself.
The mental subtleties of keeping your nerve when the leaderboard says a par at the last will be enough are something you can identify with when you’ve stood on the 18th tee with 35 points already banked in the Monthly Medal.
Golf lovers quickly become protectors of all of the finer points that shape our addictions to it. It’s like being part of a secret society. If the great unwashed say the sport is boring then it almost confirms our own refined tastes.
So, do we care if golf’s image is staid and stately? We should.
The golf economy in the USA came under attack from a cycling boom a few years ago. Nike pulled out of the golf equipment business in 2016 citing a fall in demand.
Now the same trend is emerging in the UK. England Golf recently reported that 1 in 5 of the players who held a club membership in 2004 have since packed the game in. More tee times for the rest of us?... not if your club closes as a result.
If the game wises up, this survey may just be the biggest favour that anyone has ever done golf.
Even the crustiest of colonels would surely raise his glass of port in the Men’s Bar to the notion that golf has to be more open to fresh ideas.
Cricket connoisseurs will say that 20/20 Big Bash slogs are ruining the game but try telling that to the fans that fill county grounds to see the shortened versions of the sport.
Last May the European Tour unveiled GolfSixes, a 6-hole matchplay knockout tournament played to the accompaniment of pop music and whooping crowds. Remember, the first tee of the Ryder Cup when Bubba Watson came to play? It was like that all weekend. There was even a clock put on the snails-pace pros at GolfSixes… well, on one hole. It’s a start.
I’m not suggesting that the champion golfer should lift the Claret Jug to the sound of a Stormzy rap at Carnoustie this summer. As with Test cricket, there will always be a major place for the Major tests of the sports superstars.
But if a wider sporting public is ever going to appreciate the power and the skill that the great golfers display, their talents need to be better showcased with a 21st century twist. So much of the fun that I have during the course of a roll-up round with the guys at our club seems to be missing from the poker-faced millionaires with their emotions hidden beneath their sponsored caps.
Maybe the cameras should come to watch us play on a Sunday morning. It’s never boring.
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