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The 10 Things That Actually Make Golf Special

By: | Mon 03 Jul 2023

MOST of us who love this great game have had our fill of all the shenanigans that have dominated the headlines in recent months. 

Professional golf may be where the money is but the heart and soul of the game is all about the likes of you and me, the men and women who play golf for fun, because we love it.

I have grown weary of reading about all the spats, the arguments about world ranking points, huge prize funds, whether or not a 54-hole event constitutes a proper golf tournament and who will or will not be allowed to play in the majors and the Ryder Cup.

It all got me thinking about why I love golf and why it so special to me. I am sure that we all play for very different reasons, but here is why I play golf.


They say that practice makes perfect. I have never been a fan of ambling out to the practice ground or driving range and aimlessly hitting golf balls. 

If I am on my own I like to go right through the bag, setting myself challenges along the way. It might be hitting a club a specific distance, hitting a series of deliberate draws, followed by a few fades (oh all right then, hooks and slices), hitting a few low shots followed by moving the ball forward to see how high I can get it to fly. Get into a bunker and hit shots from poor lies - there’s no point in sitting the ball up in a perfect lie because that is never going to happen. And then head to the practice green and aim to hole, say, 50 consecutive three-foot putts. If you miss one, you simply start again.


If you want to be at one with nature then this is the sport for you. I was brought up in Glasgow, a city of one million people, but get out on a golf course and you could be anywhere. Walter Hagen said it was important to take time to smell the flowers and he was correct. There are some spectacular places to play golf. One of the prettiest courses I have ever played is Pollok, which is not far from Glasgow city centre.

Links courses provide amazing sea views as you carve your way through sand dunes. Head out to the countryside and the world is your oyster. Best of all, this is a sport that allows you to strut your stuff on exactly the same venues where golf’s majors are staged. It is like being a football fan and being given the chance to play at Wembley.  

What Makes Golf Special


What better way to spend three or four hours than being out in the fresh air with like-minded people? Some of my closest friends are people I have met while playing golf. Lots of club golfers forget why they started playing in the first place. I love nothing better than having a chat and a laugh on the course and then heading to the clubhouse or terrace for a beer or two with good friends. Nothing comes close.

The Game

There is no other sport quite like golf. Each and every one of us who plays this incredible game has experienced magical moments and rounds where everything has clicked into place. You think you have cracked it. And then you head out next time and it quickly puts you back in your place. No two rounds are ever the same. Every time you head out it is a fresh challenge.


I started playing with blade irons with tiny heads and persimmon woods that had to be kept dry to stop them swelling. A seven iron would travel 140 yards if you struck it perfectly but the sweet spot was so small that you hardly ever did. We played with balata golf balls that rarely survived 18 holes, especially if you had to play a bunker shot. 

Now most people hit a seven iron 160 yards or more. Drivers have huge heads and massive sweet spots and golf ball technology has changed and improved beyond all recognition. Technology and innovative individuals have made the game so much easier for us all.

Health Benefits

It has been proven that being outdoors helps your mental well-being. And I am here to tell you that I still get a high from playing a good round of golf that nothing else can come close to. If you play golf with the right attitude you simply cannot help but come off the 18th green with a smile on your face.


Much of my golf these days is played for fun, but there is nothing better than challenging yourself in a competitive environment. And golf’s handicap system means that a comparative beginner can take on a single-figure golfer and believe he or she has a good chance of winning. 

Stableford scoring also means that you can afford to have the odd disaster. The better you become the more likely it is that you will want to play in stroke play events where you have to hole every putt and keep a score.

Friendly Rivalry

There are all sorts of ways of competing against your friends without any chance of falling out. Put £1 on the front nine, £1 on the back nine and £1 on the round. Or play for a round of drinks. Agree on things such as Mulligans before you head out. And go out there and have some fun. And impose penalties on anybody whose mobile phone goes off!


If you are a golfer, you can take your clubs on holiday with you. Whether you are staying in the UK or going abroad, it means you get the chance to play new courses and make new friends. Just one thing - if your partner is not a golfer, check before you book your holiday that he or she does not have a problem with you disappearing for four or five hours. The chances are that they will be happy to have some private time - or head to the spa or swimming pool while you are playing.


I have had my best golf days with a society that I ran for 10 years. It started off with four of us and eventually expanded to 40 golfers of all standards. There was one rule - nobody was allowed to take it seriously and anybody caught losing their temper or throwing clubs would be banned. 

We would usually go away on a Sunday and Monday, which meant playing two rounds of golf. Sunday nights were always a scream. There is NOTHING to beat society golf if you have the right mix of people.

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