Golf - The Only Sport Where You Compete Against Yourself.

Now some of you will say, this is not true.  Golf can be a team sport.  Yes you're right as well, but think about this.  Football, Basketball, Soccer, Cricket, Baseball, and even Tennis you have to have an opponent. In golf, you don't always have an opponent, except in tournaments, but even there you are competing against yourself. Again you say, How? Well let's break it down. 

In golf, you can play at your own pace, by yourself or with friends.  You're always trying to improve your scores and handicap. Only you can do this, no other can do it for you. When playing a leisurely round of golf, if you hit a bad shot, then this can and sometimes does have an effect on you final score. It also can have an effect on your mental state in the game as well and thus affecting the final score also. 

Now let's look at the competition side of golf. Assuming you like to bet with your friends, golf is also a competitive sport, but even in this type of friendly wager, you still are competing within yourself mentally. You're still trying to shoot your lowest round. Every time I go out and play, which is about 3 times a week, I am trying to lower my scores, regardless if my friends want to wager a little.  My best round of golf in my entire life has been 1over 72 on a par 71 course. I got cocky on the 18th hole on my home course in Texas and bogeyed the hole, the only blemish on the card.  Now I go out and play trying to shoot the same score or better and the closest I seem to come to this was 5 over 76 on a par 71 course. So as you see, I am always competing against myself.

The same is true if you are playing in a tournament as an individual or as part of a team.  In tournaments you do have an opponent, but you are also competing against yourself. Nearly every golfer out there, knows what they are capable of shooting on a particular course. So in their minds, they are trying to better themselves and yet do well for their team, if they are playing in a team competition.  In you mind, your always thinking about the shot you just hit and your next shot and how to play the next shot. Even the pro's playing in the Ryder Cup have to keep their emotions in check, part of competitions, to be able to score low and help their respective team win.

Let's talk about the mental competitive aspect of the game of golf.  Each and every shot you take, you are thinking about where you want the ball to end up.  To put this into perspective, on the course I now play, the very first hole is a par 5 with a water hazard approximately 40 yards in front of the green on the leading edge and about 15 yards or so wide.  The green is rather narrow on this hole as well.  To most golfers, you want to hit a good drive and lay up with a decent 2nd shot in front of the hazard, then go for the green on the 3rd shot.  In my case, if I hit a good drive on the first shot, I stand a chance of clearing the hazard on the second and have a short chip/pitch shot to the green. However, due to the mental competitiveness of the game, I find myself laying up on the second shot and going to the green on the 3rd, trying to put my 3rd shot in a position to walk away with a par, even though a birdy would be nice. Thus this is an example of the mental competitiveness of golf.

No other sport must a person think and act like this. In all other team sports, you're trying to do the job for the position you were assigned too. A center in football, basketball or soccer.  A fielder in baseball or cricket.  In tournament golf, to win, you must play your best and have a positive mental outlook in order to beat your opponent or win a tournament.  In playing for leisure, to score you best, you must have that positive outlook, and play your best to match or beat your lowest score.


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