Every now and then, I like to get under the skin of my golfing friends by making the argument that golf is an activity rather than a sport. I maintain that, while there are certainly athletes who golf, not all golfers are athletes. Of course, that all depends on how one defines sports and athletes. I always thought that a good measure was whether a casual player of any game could hold his own against a person who played the game professionally. And, by that measure, golf doesn’t qualify as a sport, because a reasonably proficient weekend player could beat a pro on any given hole. However, a casual baseball player couldn’t come close to hitting a major league slider, and a twice-a-week tennis player would be hard-pressed to return a Roger Federer serve.
Another dividing line between a sport and an activity might be whether a retired player could come back and win. Golf? Yes. Tennis? Baseball? Football? Very unlikely. There’s a reason there are no senior leagues in the latter three. So, is golf a sport and are golfers athletes? (Or for that matter, dart throwers or billiard players?) And, on the broader questions, what defines a sport and an athlete?
I’ll wait in the clubhouse for your answers.