7 Reasons Why Golf Is the Hardest Sport (Mental + Physical)

7 Reasons Why Golf Is the Hardest Sport (Mental + Physical)

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Close to 66.6 million people play golf in the world. However, very few achieve professional status and become outright elite players. As such, many consider it one of the most challenging sports globally.

There are different metrics you can use to measure the difficulty of a sport, but what are the actual reasons why golf is the hardest sport? Here are 7 reasons why golf is the hardest sport to master:

  1. You have to be in good shape
  2. You have to master different equipment
  3. You use different shots in a game
  4. Different rules
  5. It takes time
  6. It requires mental toughness
  7. Lowest winning percentage

Keep reading as we dig deeper into why golf is the hardest mental and physical sport out there. Spoiler Alert: there’s no shame in hiring a golf coach or taking the best online golf lessons for beginners.

1. It Requires You to Be at Peak Fitness

It Requires You to Be at Peak Fitness

Golf requires you to be at top fitness if you are to excel.

Yes, yes, there are exceptions to the rule…here’s looking at you, John Daly. 😉

You need to be flexible enough to swing the club at the correct angle for long drives. Additionally, your muscles need to have enough power to hit the ball with the correct velocity. Therefore, an all-inclusive exercise regimen is necessary to achieve these attributes.

Furthermore, a standard 18-hole game takes about 4.5 hours to complete, most of which involves standing and waiting for others to take their shots. Therefore, your body should also be able to endure long periods of inactivity.

Finally, some tournaments restrict the use of golf carts and require you to walk the entire course.

According to Honest Golfers (see our article about golfing and exercise), you walk about five miles when playing an 18-hole game and burn close to 2000 calories. As such, you should invest time to build the endurance it requires, especially if you will be playing professionally.

2. You Need to Master Using Different Equipment at Once

You Need to Master Using Different Equipment at Once

Unlike other sports where you specialize in a position, golf requires comprehensive knowledge of the equipment. Golfing rules allow you to have a maximum of fourteen clubs in your bag for each game.

Additionally, you can use eleven different types of clubs depending on your golfing strategies, such as woods, wedges, drivers, and putters.

As such, you need to master how to use each type if you want to have the edge over your competition. For example, irons feature a shorter shaft than drivers, which requires you to employ a different swing stance when using them.

Mastering the different stances can be pretty challenging for the average player, further explaining why golf is the hardest sport for many.

3. Golf is the Hardest Sport Because You Must Use Different Shots In a Game

You Use Different Shots In a Game

You may want to play in a similar style as your golfing idol. But unfortunately, golf does not allow you to do so since many factors influence the success of your shot.

Here is an explanation of each factor and how it makes it difficult to play like your role model.

Your physical attributes determine the swing stance you will use for each shot. Since you are not similar in build, how you swing each type of club will differ significantly from your role model. The physical attributes essential for a successful shot include wrist-to-ground length, height, and fitness level.

Each hole on the course is unique in terrain, distance, and trajectory. As such, you need to vary your shots to complete the hole successfully.

Knowing which shot is most effective proves too challenging for some individuals, and that is why most consider golf the hardest sport.

4. The Rules are Different Depending on Your Skill Level

The Rules are Different Depending on Your Skill Level

Golfing rules apply differently depending on each player’s skill level. Golf handicaps ensure each player has a fair shot at winning the game. They determine the number of shots you require to complete each hole.

For example, a lower handicap number means you will play fewer shots than your opponent with a higher handicap number.

The situation creates confusion for many amateur players, validating their opinion that golf is the hardest sport.

5. You Must Invest Over Ten Hours of Practice Time Daily

You Must Invest Over Ten Hours of Practice Time Daily

Most of the world’s top golfers had their start from an early age. For example, Tiger Woods has been playing golf since he was three years old. According to his trainer, he practices for about 13 hours daily.

There are about fourteen different stances that elite golfers consider the best. Additionally, determining which stance will work best for you takes time and repetitive practice, which many may consider boring and monotonous.

Similarly, the different club types you can use during a game also require similar dedication to master if you want to turn professional. As such, the long hours and intense practice sessions make many consider golf the hardest sport.

6. It Requires You To Be Psychologically Tough

It Requires You To Be Psychologically Tough

Aside from being physically fit, golf also requires you to be mentally strong. This is because a single mistake can cost you the whole game, especially in tournaments with massive prize money. Even the most elite players sometimes crumble under pressure, but their resilience and passion push them through.

Mastering a single shot can take a long time of repetitive practice, which may be too taxing for some. For example, hitting a hole-in-one is one of golf’s most outstanding achievements. However, some golf champions finish their career without hitting one, despite the casual player hitting a few in a weekend.

Therefore, you should be able to pick yourself up when things are not going your way if you want to excel in golf. Additionally, golf courses feature multiple distractions, which can affect your concentration. Building the capacity to tune them out and focusing on your game can prove challenging to many.

7. It Has the Lowest Winning Percentage In Individual Sports

It Has the Lowest Winning Percentage In Individual Sports

The average winning percentage across major golf tournaments is around 33% for professional golfers, which statistically makes golf the hardest individual sport in the world.

The figure results from analyzing the win percentage of the number one player at all major tournaments in different sports. 

For example, Annika Sorenstam, arguably the greatest female golfer of all time, has a winning percentage of 23.5 in major tournaments, despite playing professionally for sixteen years.

On the other hand, Serena Williams has a win percentage of 88.08 across all major tournaments she has played.

Looking at the above comparison, it is clear that golf is the hardest sport globally. Additionally, the amount of time and dedication it takes to reach an average level further justifies the claim.