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March 07, 2018

Golf: What’s in it “fore” you

Why do you participate in sports? Is it for the exercise? The chance to spend time with your friends and meet new people? Maybe to acquire and hone new skills? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I highly recommend giving golf a shot (pun intended).

Who’s playing the game?

Believe it or not, the most popular sport to play among Canadian adults isn’t hockey but golf. Canadians are passionate about golf. According to a recent report by Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada, 5.7 million Canadians  enjoy more than 60 million rounds annually. Not a surprise when you consider that there are golf courses all over Canada to accommodate every budget, the sport is fun, relatively easy on your body (while counting as exercise), plus you can scale it to your skill and activity level.

Health benefits

Physical health

If you think that it is a stretch to call golf a sport, have a read of an interesting study by Neil Wolkodoff, Director at the Rose Medical Centre in Denver, as posted in the New York Times Golf Blog. Here are a few highlights from the study on the energy expended while playing golf:

  • Walking the course and carrying the bag burns 721 calories;
  • Walking the course and pulling the bag burns 718 calories;
  • Walking the course with a caddie carrying the bag burns 621 calories; and
  • Riding in a cart burns 411 calories.

And the good news doesn’t stop there – these numbers are for the average 9-hole course. The traditional round of golf is 18 holes so that doubles those calorie counts. Not bad for swinging clubs and walking about a beautiful course. Nicely done!

Mental health

What’s even better, the benefits of golf go beyond the physicality of the sport itself. Unless you’re hitting up the indoor golf dome (which is an option to scratch that golf itch even in the midst of a Canadian winter), golf takes place outside in a variety of natural settings. Depending on the course, you can surround yourself with forest, meadows, rockscapes, even lakes and oceans. Besides having so much natural beauty around you, there are several benefits of spending time outside. Stress reduction and increased creativity are but two bonuses for that time in the fresh air.

Getting started

Perhaps by now you might be stoked to try golf. You’re saying “yes, yes, yes…I want to get into it!” but you don’t know where to start. Golf, like any sport, requires some specialized apparel and equipment. First up is clothes and footwear. Many courses have dress codes in effect so be sure to check before you head out. It is worth noting that if you’re a true beginner you may want to start at a driving range – luckily these tend to have more relaxed rules about dress-code so you can wait to buy golf clothes until you hit the links for real. You can also wear running shoes until you decide to purchase golf shoes.

Clubs are obviously crucial to golf and can range in price from “reasonable” to “investment.” It may be wise to start off by borrowing or renting clubs until you’ve decided that this is a sport you’d like to participate infrequently enough to justify the cost. Most golf courses will have clubs for rent in the pro-shop for a reasonable fee. And while you’re there you can always ask about a lesson from a professional. Many courses offer private lessons where you will get insights and advice tailored to you and your swing.

For more resources that help you get comfortable and confident in the game, check out The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Golf. We cover terminology, parts of the golf course, what you need to play, and golf etiquette and so much more. 

So you have your clothes and equipment. As I mentioned, a driving range might be your best starting point as most courses and other golfers take golf etiquette quite seriously. Before you head onto the course consider Googling the golf do’s and don’ts and the ever-important Pace of Play.

Game play

Now that you know not to walk in another golfer’s putting line and to be quiet while your fellow player is shooting, you can hit the course. Many beginners, instead of playing their own ball the entire time, will play Best Ball, also called a Scramble. Players all tee off but then select the best shot from the group, pick up the other balls, place them next to the best ball and play from there. This is a great way to practice a variety of shots with different clubs without compromising pace.

Part of golf’s magic is how easily you can adapt the sport to your fitness goals, budget, even how seriously you want to take the game: you can play for fun or put your game face on. Play 9 holes or 18. Walk the course or ride in the cart. You can play in a league or simply compete against your own previous scores. You can even have a few adult beverages should you so fancy!

It’s all about the ladies

In the past, golf was seen as a sport to only be played by men. Some courses wouldn’t even allow women on the premises. Luckily these outdated attitudes are disappearing as more and more ladies pick up clubs and not only participate in golf but actually excel at it! Just look at the Canadian professionals in the headlines: young Brooke Henderson is making a name for herself on the LPGA circuit and she also represented Canada at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Few sports offer so much flexibility with the ability to have fun – surely you deserve to treat yourself to an activity that is half-fitness, half-social and entirely fun!    

Find your provincial golf association to explore local women's golf programs, tournaments and news on female golf professionals at Golf Canada.


Looking to learn more? Explore our Golf activity page for great articles like Parts of a golf course: Tee to green and stuff in between and are more tips and suggestions for the golf newbie in Hit the green and tee up that swing…golf for the beginner.

Check out our Athlete Advisor, your online business directory for more information on golf in your community. Find, rate and review golf clubs, learn-to-golf programs, local community offerings and businesses that will help you do your thing!

Find or start a tournament or a golf group on our SWSCD Hub.

Do you have a good resource for those learning to play golf or a story about your group of women just getting started? Tell us about your experience directly on our Discover blog or by using #seewhatshecando on social media and inspire others to get active. 


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