The following is a guest post by Samaiyah Islam.
Golf, which was once a sport reserved for the rich and famous, has transformed into a pop culture phenomenon. You used to need country club membership and an aura of prestige to play the game. Nowadays, the game is played by anyone, ranging from your average everyday Joe to Hollywood's finest to professional athletes (not including those on the PGA and LPGA tours, of course) that use their respective off-seasons to fuel another sporting passion.
Yes, golf is huge. There have been classic, and highly quotable, movies that have revolved around the sport (see: Caddyshack, Tin Cup, Happy Gilmore, and The Legend of Bagger Vance). There's a celebrity pro-am before just about every PGA Tour event, where the area's notable celebrities and talking heads are able to play a round with some of the world's finest. And there’s been prominent golfing professionals, such as Tiger Woods — and more recently Rory Mcllroy, — that have made golf "cool" among the younger crowds and have helped grow the sport as a game for the masses and not just the rich and famous. The aforementioned golfers have made PGA Tour majors like The Masters must-see television, not just for golf fans, but for all sport fans.
Golf is especially popular in the United States, which is home to roughly half of the world's total golf courses. In fact, there's estimated to be more than 17,000 total courses in the country to satisfy the tens of millions of regular American golfers. There’s public courses, private courses and rates available for junior golfers, college golfers and senior citizen golfers. More and more high schools now have varsity golf teams and golf lessons are affordable and widely available for those of all skill levels. Golf outings are a popular fundraiser, even for those that may only play once or twice a year due to their laid back nature and "scramble" approach, which essentially consists of a foursome playing the best shot among the group on each stroke.
Celebrities and actors enjoy golf because most have the time and money to put into their game. Former NBA star and current basketball analyst Charles Barkley was even a focus of a recent Golf Channel series that attempted to rework and fix a frantic swing. Athletes have gravitated toward golf because it's another sport to excel it — perhaps even more so when you consider the mental aspect of the game — when they're in their respective off seasons. In fact, it's common to joke with hockey and baseball teams that just saw their seasons come to an end that there are tee times awaiting. Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Sterling Sharpe, John Elway, Larry Bird and Han Aaron are other notable athletes that have taken up golf as a favorite pastime. And your everyday Joe enjoys the game perhaps because it's an escape from reality, a shared love of the game with family and friends or just a way to stay active while having fun.
Golf is huge, and — thanks to the professionals that have paved the way — available to anyone, no matter how rich, famous or skilled you are at the game. Those of us who play likely don't have aspirations of being the next Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods. In fact, many of us might hit more poor shots than we do good ones. But it’s that 35 foot birdie putt that we sank on the 18th green, the clink of a perfect center fairway drive and the 150 yard approach shot we stuck within 10 feet of the pin to make us come back for more.
Ah, golf. From 15th century Scotland to everyone.
Samaiyah Islam is a lover of golf and writes for Westfields Golf. She enjoys writing about the history of golf, tips, and fitness suggestions.