“I’d give up golf – if I didn’t have so many sweaters” – Bob Hope
By Ian Hardie
Now, I know what you are thinking………………‘Why would a PGA Professional Golf Teacher that spends a lot of each day helping people to start and improve the game of golf, that has put together a website full of hundreds of articles that are dedicated to helping golfers to play better golf – be writing an article about deciding when to give up golf’?
Well, it all has to do with a part of the Golf Habits website that you – the readers – can’t see.
It’s a list of the search terms, that people around the world put into search engines like Google, that once they have seen the results of the search – allows them to click on the suggested bit on the internet that hopefully holds the answers to their question – like this example that I have just done by putting in the question:
“How to hit a sand wedge from the fairway”
About 122,000 results
Obviously, for something like the example above – it’s a pretty simple decision to find some information to help with that persons search – they obviously are struggling with a part of the game that gives a lot of golfers problems and luckily, I have written a couple of articles on Golf Habits that can solve most golfers issues with it fairly quickly.
For some time though, I’ve been seeing some search terms being used that don’t directly match up to anything I have written before – as (even though they vary a bit) the question they are asking is one of the toughest in the game of golf.
When or whether, a golfer should stop playing the game of golf?
Before writing this, I took a look around the internet myself to see if there were any useful articles somewhere else but to my mind – finding such suggestions as ‘when it’s not fun anymore’ or ‘when you can’t make 3 birdies in a row’ didn’t seem very helpful.
Mainly because, for a golfer to get to the point where they are even considering stopping playing the game of golf – they will have spent a fair bit of their life playing the game – meaning that, simply stopping playing the game one day.
Is going to leave a gaping hole in their life that may be hard to fill.
So, the focus of this article is firmly on the golfer who has played for some years and as a result – the game of golf will have been a big part of their life.
If we look at this question from the point of view of being able to fondly remember the golfer’s skill at the game that they had before they stopped playing, then there is really only a single point in their life where they should stop playing.
Once they have either had the best round that they will ever have (which is a little difficult to judge for most golfers) or once they have reached the pinnacle of the sport – as from that lofty position, there is only one way you can go right?
This means, that if you are the current best male or female golfer in the world – now could be the time to contemplate your retirement – as you are unlikely to get any higher than you are right now.
Now, you might think that’s a little unrealistic – especially as that decision has to be balanced with millions of dollars in potential future earnings and multi-year endorsement deals – as well as the drive for those golfers to win more Majors and become the best golfers of all time but history would show us that a while back, a golfer did just exactly that (but without all the thoughts of money).
Bobby Jones was the most successful amateur golfer ever (at this point in time) to compete at a national and international level.
During his peak from 1923 to 1930, he dominated top-level amateur competition and competed very successfully against the world’s best professional golfers and is most famous for his unique ‘Grand Slam’ – which consisted of victories in all four major golf tournaments of his era (The Open and Amateur Championships in both the U.S. & the U.K.) in a single calendar year – 1930.
In all, during his career Jones played in 31 majors, winning 13 and placing among the top ten finishers 27 times.
Jones often beat stars such as Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen – who were the top pros of that era – Bobby Jones however, earned his living mainly as a lawyer and competed in golf only as an amateur, primarily on a part-time basis and as a result, chose to retire from competition at age 28.
Right at the point where a modern golfer would be considered to be in their prime.
In explaining his decision to retire, Jones said “Championship golf is something like a cage, first you are expected to get into it and then you are expected to stay there but of course, nobody can stay there for that long.”
As you can imagine, most golfers don’t have the same success at the game that Bobby Jones did and in actual fact are likely to be contemplating the decision as to whether or not to stop playing golf – long after they have passed their prime.
Before we begin to take a look at a few of the reasons that might have an experienced golfer contemplating the end of their time at the game and see how they will ultimately influence the decision – I’d like to point out a few of the reasons that people actually play golf and see just how that might relate to this question.
In the article Why do we play golf – part four? I introduced a little poll to you that was aimed at finding out, just why it is that golfers continue to play the game – you can find it here if you haven’t already taken a look at it.
You may recall that the options were: “For the exercise and fresh air”, “I enjoy the competitive aspects of the game”, “Simply for fun”, “I enjoy the personal challenge it provides”, “To get away from everyday life”, “I get to spend time with friends, family or workmates”, “I’m trying to become as good as I can be at the game” and “It’s the social aspect of it that I enjoy”.
At this point in time “Simply for fun” is one of the least voted for options.
This doesn’t really surprise me too much, as by and large most Golf Habits readers arrive at the website as they are searching for good information about the game – whereas a golfer who plays simply for fun is unlikely to be bothered about playing better golf.
Still, as I pointed out earlier ‘when it’s not fun anymore’ is one of the answers I got when I took a look around the internet but if you take a look at the definition of the word ‘fun’ – I’m not so sure that’s useful when it comes to golf.
Fun - enjoyable, amusing.
Doesn’t sound like it has much to do with golf does it?
What if, I change the word ‘fun’ and replace it with the word ‘enjoy’?
Enjoy - to receive pleasure or satisfaction from something.
That sounds like it’s more closely related to the game of golf doesn’t it?
So, the first thing that you need to consider, to decide whether you should give up playing golf – is whether you are getting any enjoyment from the game at all – which is something that I’m going to take a closer look at in “How to decide whether you should give up playing golf – part two’ very soon, until then.