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Why Golf Is the Hardest Sport (7 reasons are here)

Golf is played by approximately 66.6 million people worldwide. However, only a small percentage of players reach professional status and are considered elite. As a result, many people regard it as one of the most hardest sport in the world.

There are various metrics for measuring the difficulty of a sport, but what are the actual reasons why golf is the most difficult sport? Here are seven reasons why golf is the most difficult sport to master:

  • You must be in Peak physical condition.
  • You must learn to use various pieces of equipment.
  • Different shots are used in a game
  • Different rules.
  • It takes time and mental fortitude.
  • With the lowest winning percentage

Continue reading to learn why golf is the most difficult mental and physical sport. Spoiler

7 Reasons why golf is the hardest sport?

1. You Must Be in Peak Physical Condition

To excel at golf, you must be in peak physical condition.

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

For long drives, you must be flexible enough to swing the club at the proper angle. Furthermore, your muscles must be strong enough to hit the ball at the proper velocity. As a result, an all-encompassing exercise regimen is required to achieve these characteristics.

Furthermore, a typical 18-hole game takes about 4.5 hours to complete, with the majority of that time spent standing and waiting for others to take their shots. As a result, your body should be able to withstand prolonged periods of inactivity.

Finally, some tournaments prohibit the use of golf carts, forcing participants to walk the entire course.

According to Honest Golfers (see our article about golf and exercise), an 18-hole game requires you to walk approximately five miles and burn approximately 2000 calories. As a result, you should devote time to developing the endurance required, especially if you intend to play professionally.

2. You must learn to use various pieces of equipment.

Unlike other sports where you specialize in a position, golf necessitates a thorough understanding of the equipment. Golf rules allow you to bring a maximum of fourteen clubs into each game.

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

As a result, if you want to have an advantage over your competition, you must master how to use each type. Irons, for example, have a shorter shaft than drivers, necessitating a different swing stance when using them.

Mastering the various stances can be difficult for the average player, which explains why golf is regarded as the most difficult sport by many.

3. Golf is the Hardest Sport Because Different shots are used in a game

You may want to follow your golfing idol’s style. However, golf does not allow you to do so because so many factors influence the success of your shot.

Here’s an explanation of each factor and how it makes playing like your role model difficult.

The swing stance you will use for each shot is determined by your physical characteristics. Because you are not built similarly to your role model, how you swing each type of club will differ significantly. Wrist-to-ground length, height, and fitness level are all important physical attributes for a successful shot.

Every hole on the course is distinct in terms of terrain, distance, and trajectory. As a result, you must vary your shots in order to successfully complete the hole.

Knowing which shot is the most effective proves too difficult for some people, which is why most people consider golf to be the most difficult sport.

4. The Rules Vary Depending on Your Skill Level

Golf rules differ depending on the skill level of each player. Golf handicaps ensure that each player has an equal chance of winning the game. They determine how many shots you’ll need to complete each hole.

A lower handicap number, for example, means you will take fewer shots than your opponent with a higher handicap number.

Many amateur players are perplexed by the situation, which validates their belief that golf is the most difficult sport.

5. You must put in more than ten hours of practice time per day.

The majority of the world’s top golfers began playing at a young age. Tiger Woods, for example, has been playing golf since the age of three. According to his trainer, he practices for about 13 hours per day.

There are approximately fourteen different stances that elite golfers consider to be the best. Furthermore, determining which stance will work best for you takes time and repetitive practice, which many people may find boring and monotonous.

Similarly, the various club types you can use during a game require similar dedication to master if you want to turn professional. As a result of the long hours and intense practice sessions, many consider golf to be the most difficult sport.

6. It Requires You To Be Psychologically Tough

Golf requires you to be mentally strong as well as physically fit. This is due to the fact that a single error can cost you the entire game, especially in tournaments with large prize money. Even the best players can falter under pressure, but their resilience and passion carry them through.

Mastering a single shot can take a long time of repetitive practice, which some people may find too taxing. A hole-in-one, for example, is one of golf’s most prestigious accomplishments. Despite the fact that the casual player may hit a few in a weekend, some golf champions finish their careers without hitting one.

If you want to excel at golf, you must be able to pick yourself up when things do not go your way. Furthermore, golf courses have numerous distractions that can interfere with your concentration. Many people struggle with developing the ability to tune them out and focus on their game.

7. With the lowest winning percentage

For professional golfers, the average winning percentage across major golf tournaments is around 33%, making golf the most difficult individual sport in the world.

The figure is the result of analyzing the win percentage of the top player in all major tournaments across all sports.

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

Serena Williams, on the other hand, has a win percentage of 88.08 in all major tournaments she has competed in.

Looking at the above comparison, it is clear that golf is the most difficult sport in the world. Furthermore, the amount of time and dedication required to achieve an average level supports the claim.

The Sheer Time Commitment Required for Improvement

Golf requires an immense time investment just to become moderately competitive even for seasoned athletes from other sports. Here’s a look at why it takes so long to advance in golf:

Huge Number of Skills to Build

Mastering the full swing, short game, and mental game encompasses a large set of diverse golf skills. Other sports focus on a smaller relevant skill set. The breadth of golf skills takes longer to build.

No Way to Simulate Golf Motions

Practicing full swings outside of hitting actual golf balls is very limited. There are few drills or ways to simulate motions that don’t require being on an actual driving range or course.

Seasonal Time Limitations

For golfers in certain climates, winter weather limits practice time and play on actual courses. The short golf season reduces skill-building time compared to other sports.

Functional Practice Time Challenges

A day of golf practice may yield only dozens of actual full swings. Compare that to hundreds of free throws a basketball player can take in a single session. Limited practice swings restricts pace of improvement.

High Costs Involved

Accessing golf facilities, equipment, and instruction comes with significant financial cost, which limits practice time for many. Other sports with lower costs allow more skill development.

Game Repetition Difficulties

Playing 18 holes of golf takes 4-5 hours. Other sports allow more actual gameplay in a given time period to refine skills through repetition. Limited on-course time hinders pace of getting better.

The combination of diverse skills, time restrictions, and practice limitations means even naturally talented athletes require more time investment to become good at golf compared to other sports.

Golf’s Unique and Extreme Mental Challenges

Beyond the physical skills, golf places enormous emphasis on the mental side of the game. The psychological demands of golf add a layer of difficulty and frustration unseen in most other sports.

Here are some examples of golf’s mental game challenges:

The pressure of Scoring Every Shot

In golf, every single stroke counts towards your total score. There are no small throwaway moments. This ratchets up pressure on every shot.

Time Between Shots Builds Tension

Unlike continuous-flow sports, the time between golf shots allows pressure and tension to build as players overthink. Too much thinking can be detrimental.

No Direct Opponent Interaction

Without direct match play against an opponent, golfers have only the course and themselves to compete against. Battling internal mental demons is tougher than an external opponent.

Failure Frequency

Even the pros hit poor shots frequently. Failing often in golf compared to the higher success rates of some other sports takes a toll mentally. Coping with imperfection is challenging.

Individual Accountability

Golf strips away the team element that provides support in other sports. The solo nature of the game places all pressure squarely on the individual.

No Clocks or Time Limits

With no buzzer beaters or clocks to race against, golfers have to self impose focus and competitiveness. Internal motivation is immensely difficult.

The highly mental nature of golf places it amongst the most psychologically demanding sports. Developing mental tools to stay present, focused, and confident in the face of golf’s intense pressure is no easy feat.

Why High Golf Scores Don’t Necessarily Come Easy

With its wide fairways and lack of defence, golf may seem easy to play at a recreational level. Here’s a look at why scoring well in golf is actually quite difficult:

Large Surface Area Works Against You

The huge size of golf courses means missed shots are penalized more severely. Wayward shots that wouldn’t go out of play in some sports end up lost or out-of-bounds in golf.

No Pre-Defined Shots

Every golf shot requires assessing multiple factors like wind, terrain, obstacles, and lie to choose the proper club and shot shape. Other sports have predefined shot options.

Unpredictable Bounces

Bad hops and uneven lies are common in golf. The ball takes unpredictable bounces, making quality contact hard even from ideal positions.

Harsh Penalty for Small Errors

In golf, a minor mis-hit or small mistake leads to shot catastrophes like chunks, slices, tops, and skulls. Minor errors in other sports typically don’t wreck shots.

Requires Multiple Skill Sets

Scoring well requires combining the diverse skills of driving, approach shots, short game, and putting. Having to integrate multiple skill sets raises the degree of difficulty.

Conditions Affect Each Shot Uniquely

Wind, rain, terrain, and grass type all impact shots differently requiring constant adjustment. In most other sports, conditions affect competitors evenly on a given play.

While golf appears simpler, decent scoring demands applying skills repeatedly with precision. Course management, trouble avoidance, and shot shaping also add mental challenges not always obvious to spectators.

Why Golf May Be the Hardest Sport to Truly Master

When looking at all the above factors – the swing complexity, mental demands, time investment, and precision required – golf emerges as arguably the most difficult sport to genuinely master at the highest level.

Here’s a summary look at why golf stands atop the list of hardest sports:

  • An intricate sequence of coordinated body motions must be mastered – down to the millimetre – and repeated with precision.
  • The short game alone could take a lifetime to master with its fine-tuned motor skills and technique nuances.
  • Golf requires more cumulative time investment to reach elite levels than most other sports due to limited practice efficiency.
  • The psychological demands of golf far exceed most other sports; just think of putting with major championships on the line.
  • Even after achievement, golf continues to humble its greatest players without fail. Complacency is its enemy.
  • Adjustments must constantly be made for changing conditions and scenarios from one shot to the next. Adaptability is paramount.

And remember, this is coming from a lifelong golfer! Clearly, the challenges of the sport are embraced by those who understand why golf stands alone as the ultimate test of skill and mental resolve.


Why is golf more difficult than other sports?

Golf is difficult because of the numerous moving parts involved in a round of golf. Every time you go out to play, you will face physical issues with your golf swing, mental issues with the way you think, and environmental issues caused by golf course conditions and weather.

Is golf truly the hardest sport?

For a variety of reasons, many people consider golf to be the most difficult sport. The mental game is one of the most difficult aspects of golf. Unlike many other sports, where physical strength and skill are paramount, golf necessitates a high level of mental toughness and focus.

Is golf easier for men?

At the professional level, men hit the ball farther than women due to greater upper body strength and clubhead speed. This gives a scoring advantage to the best men professionals. But for average recreational players, most studies have found that women and men score comparably when differences in athletic backgrounds are accounted for. While driving distance favors men, short game skills tend to be less affected by gender.
And women may have potential advantages in terms of patience, focus, and composure that serve the mental game very well. Golf can certainly be enjoyed and played well by both genders, so no generalizations on whether one gender finds the game itself “easier” are scientifically conclusive. Good instruction, practice, and fitting equipment to physical abilities are what determine success in golf for any player.


In conclusion, while no sport is truly easy to master at the highest level, golf presents arguably the most formidable challenges due to the complexity of its swing mechanics, the precision required, the solitary mental demands, and the immense time investment needed. The full golf swing alone requires a kinetically synchronized sequence of motions no other sport replicates. Executing shots consistently under pressure with unforgiving equipment across ever-changing terrain intensifies golf’s frustrations like few athletic pursuits.

Variables and difficulties compound upon each other to humble even seasoned athletes. While debate persists on which sports reign most difficult, there is a strong case to be made for golf as the ultimate test of physical capabilities, technical skills, and mental toughness. Those who have persevered through golf’s unique frustrations often come away with deeper reserves of patience and composure – traits honed through confronting the game’s harsh realities head-on. For an athlete seeking the steepest challenges sports have to offer, golf may provide the ultimate trial by fire.

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