Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Are Golfers Athletes?

Well over a month ago, I was on a Linkedin Group discussion with some weightlifting and fitness professionals when I asked the question, "Are Golfers Athletes?". I posted a video of a golfer from New-Caladonia, Pierre-Henri Soero who is playing on the Asian Tour in 2011. He was working with Coach Jeffrey Fronk on developing his "Explosive Power" at the GolfGym Academy Performance Center in Jupiter, Florida.

The comments that came from that question were very interesting and sparked the following insightful responses.

Joey Clineeh, exceptions don't make a case for a general rule. and as a general rule I still vote no golfers are not athletes per se. they are more skill than athletic prowess. fishing can be exhausting and requires strategy, but its not a sport either. too many hobbies are labeled as sports nowadays in my humble opinion.

Kenneth KlingThe debate continues, but I would tend to agree with Joey. I have always viewed good golfers as having a talent and being skilled at what they do, but not athletes. To compete at golf does not require speed, strength, endurance, conditioning or recovery time between events. While it does require mental focus and practice, so does darts, chess and corn hole. In short, golf is a competition of skilled professionals. A skill I have tried to obtain but have chalked up as not going to happen.

Mark RandleI would have to say that Golfers are athletes if Baseball players are athletes. I golf and there is a certain amount of training and muscle memory involved. It's not rigorous trianing, and I do admit that It pains me to say it, but look at Baseball. Lets face it, Golfers exercise more in one round of Golf than Baseball players do in a Baseball game.

Stuart BizzarriGolf is evolving, more top professionals are realising that if the develop a good strength base they will perform better on the course. There will always be the argument about low intensity sports being ‘’sports’’ but after a colleague of mine became S&C coach for the Scottish curling team and he went over their typical weeks training I have changed my view a bit on this as they train very hard with Olympic lifts included and there are some strong men and women on the team, overhead squats with bodyweight for reps!!!!

Joey Clinethis happens alot where people associate levels of difficulty as justification for calling something a sport or lecturing you why you should find it entertaining. even those two aspects are different, something may indeed be a sport but isn't entertaining etc etc.

- difficult doesn't equal sport, playing piano is hard and a skilled action but not a sport.
- soccer is a sport, but to me is like watching paint dry (oooo here comes the anger lol)

and a person(s) training and conditioning may be top tier, but that doesn't convert something into a sport either. i know accountants that are Ironman competitors but that doens't make creating a cash flow statement an athletic performance either.

and i just feel like stirring the pot a little because i'm shopping for a new set of clubs next month and am a golfer. lol

Ken PierceMiriam-Websters Dictionary offers the definition of the word "Athlete" as: "a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina". The question then becomes, "Do Professional Golfers Train Athletically"?
The answer is clearly...YES!!! See the video featuring Pierre-Henri Soero.

Adam Plagens As a coach who is actually working with golfers, yes, golfers are athletes. there is a need to have and maintain a level of strength. Clubs and custom gear will only get you so far. you have to be able to transfer force and that requires explosive and powerful movements. Granted, most golfers arent walking around half jacked and bench pressing huge amounts of weight, but the ability to hit a ball accurately is a combination of physcial skill and control.

Matthew PoterajI participate/play golf, rugby, lift weights, ski, baseball, swim, scuba, cycle and make love to my wife. Sport, activity or hobby is truly based on the eye of the beholder. I see no reason to be so passionate on judging and categorizing. At any level all of these activities are better than being a couch slug and watching. As with ALL of things in life pay attention to what brings you satisfaction and happiness and let others do the same thing. If we, the people, decide golf or poker are sports be critical of the spectators not the participants. Live strong, healthy, happy and compassionate. I'm just sayin........ ps. Golfers can be athletes but can golf be a sport vs. a hobby or activity?

Ken PierceMiraim-Webster defines "Sport" as: physical activity engaged in for pleasure. If you asked most golfers...except for the "pleasure" part.....golf is definitely a sport.

Matthew PoterajKen, I think the point of this discussion is on the connotation vs the denotation of the activity.

Joey Clinebest discussion lately. thanks for posting this question.

Adam PlagensI believe there is a bit of skeptic bias in any persons view regarding wether something is "sportsworthy." Many of you have referred to the amatuer and recreational levels as well, but this only seems to justify the legitimacy of golf as a competitive event. Granted, as I said before, there are not many golfers who will workout or train excessively hard barring stroke and swing corrections. However, this doesn't mean they aren't athletes. This argument plays along other sports/activites as well: racing cars, riding a horse, and cheerleading. Under the context of competition, these are sports. But, are they accepted as such by the general concensus?

Ken PierceAdam, Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I may be putting these responses in a blog post soon. Any objections? Thanks again.

Daniel CarelessAn athlete is an individual person. Not golfers, footballers, swimmers etc. It is the specific individual. I work with a number of swimmers some of them are exceptional but one or two are what I would class as athletes. Some of them are good swimmers. I do feel with most sports the more athletic someone is overal the high they perform

Ken PierceThat is an excellent observation Daniel. Maybe I should have postured the question more specifically to professional golfers rather than all golfers. Then the other question becomes...Is Golf A Sport? OR Is Golf at the Highest Level an Athletic Endeavor? Thanks for the stimulating response.

I want to thank everyone who participated in the discussion. Very thoughtful responses.


Ken Pierce and the GolfGym Team.