Is Golf A Sport?

Last Updated on February 15, 2024.

Golf in the United States is a $70 billion annual industry with 24.1 million players. A 2016 poll by Public Policy Polling found that nineteen percent of Americans call themselves golf fans, down from twenty-three percent in 2015. The debate over whether or not golf is a sport wages on the Internet, in bars, amongst sportswriters, and even on the golf course.

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Proponents say that golf meets the definition of “sport” found in the dictionary, requires physical exertion and coordination, and is recognized as a sport by sporting goods companies, athletic associations, fans, the media, and more. They point to golf’s inclusion in the Olympics starting in 2016 as further evidence of its qualification as a sport.

Opponents say that golf better meets the definition of “game” than “sport,” does not require rigorous physical activity, and can be played professionally by people who are overweight, injured, or non-athletic. They argue that golf is a game or leisure activity, and they cite golf’s 112-year absence from the Olympics as proof that it is not a sport.

Pro Arguments

Golfers burn more calories than gymnasts. Golfing without a cart burns an average of 360 calories per hour (306 with a caddie), compared to about 345 doing gymnastics and 273 bowling playing table tennis or doing yoga.

Golfers who play a nine-hole course (2-2.5 miles) without a cart while carrying their own clubs burn 721 calories (613 calories if a caddie carries the bag of clubs which weighs 30-50 pounds on average). Professional tournaments have four rounds of 18 holes, which would be 4,904 calories burned over four days.

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Sports agents, sponsors, and sporting goods manufacturers consider golf to be a sport. Nike’s website calls golf a “great sport” and makes products to help “athletes to perform at their physical and mental peak.”

Golfer Tiger Woods is the richest athlete in history and was the first athlete to surpass one billion dollars in career earnings (prize money and endorsements). Woods has many sponsorships in common with athletes from other sports, including Gillette, Rolex, and NetJets. Golfers are often represented by agents from major sports management companies.

Con Arguments

Unlike a sport, golf does not require rigorous physical activity. Burning 360 calories per hour playing golf without a cart or caddie is far less than the number of calories burned per hour in competitive sports: 900 in soccer, and 727 in football, basketball, and tennis.

Nearly half of the maximum calories burned while playing golf are from walking the course and carrying the clubs, but the US Supreme Court ruled that walking is not an essential aspect of golf.

In PGA Tour v. Martin (2001), the justices ruled 7-2 that the pro tour had to allow a golfer with a disability to use a golf cart because it would not “fundamentally alter the nature” of the activity. Using a cart while playing golf reduces the number of calories burned by 42% percent (from 721 to 411 for nine holes).

Professional golfers are sometimes overweight, old, or out of shape, and their caddies carry the equipment for them. There is no running, jumping, or cardiovascular activity in golf. Many pro golfers smoked while playing (Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Fuzzy Zoeller) or smoked and drank while playing (John Daly)

Sports experts agree that golf lacks the athletic rigor needed to be a real sport. Golf was ranked 51 out of 60 activities by a panel of sports scientists, athletes, and journalists assembled by ESPN. They ranked the athletic difficulty of 60 activities based on ten categories such as endurance, agility, and strength.


In your response, analyze both positions presented in the article to determine which one is best supported. Use relevant and specific evidence from the article to support your response. Type your response in the box. You should expect to spend up to 45 minutes planning, drafting, and editing your response. source:

This example is a part of our guide on writing the GED essay.

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