- Mental Health
Got Stress? Play Golf & Enjoy the Benefits.
The field is gorgeous, the game must be too!
Sitting in my apartment several years ago, my eyes would wonder and appreciated the good clear site be-yonder, just over the other side of the road, strategically located just opposite my view. At dawn after looking up to heaven and giving thanks to the one who protected me as I laid my head to rest all night, my eyes would start to admire the field glorified with sun’s colorful rays, the well-kept, eternally green, beautiful field located opposite my watch tower. There they were human beings, who were well dressed, would walk up and down the field in uniform paces. Some carrying golf bags, I understand they are called cadre. Others would be busy mowing the lawn. Everyone seems to have a unique responsibility which they executed it vehemently. All these made me developed a great admiration in the field, and less in the game; I was just mesmerized by the design of the golf course. It carries a great reflection, a perfect imagination of a real country side, and country life that is flooded with the real life obstacles hindering human’s from obtaining quality of life. The field contains rivers or streams, sand a likeness to a beach, valleys, mountains and trees and of course the spectators (people). To me, this is such an admirable site to just sit there and admire.
“I am not going to a be a widower to the golf”
I developed interest in this game however, and wanted to learn more especially when I realized that my pastor and one of the deacons from our church have been the pros in the game. The pastor made it even more entrancing when he used a set of golf clubs as a teaching aid to preach one Sunday morning during one of his sermons. You could clearly tell how passionate he was about the game. As he demonstrated how he normally does, I got ready to duck for safety should he hit that golf ball towards my direction. He looked like he was determined to demonstrate what he and his buddies do at the golf course. My stereotypical biasness about this game though is that, I’ve always considered the game to be for the lazy and the rich people who do not want to work out in poor roads and neighborhoods to do some real sweating physical activities. But I’ve learned that, one ought to learn something about the game before they pass any judgment. I inquired from the pastor as to why he liked the game so much. Pastor shared his story that initially his wife was against it and swore that she wasn’t going to lose her husband to golf since it is very addictive. After a month of adamantly refusing him to play, she noticed that her husband was becoming extremely stressed out. Realizing this, she didn’t want to make quick judgments in blaming the game. So she allowed the pastor to play the game once a week but gradually allow him more days as time went by. The pastor’s stress level started to minimize. As she became more and more flexible on how often she would allow the pastor to go and play, she realized that this was indeed a good stress reliever for him because he was and still, constantly faced with lots of church obligations and responsibilities.
So what is the addictive ingredient?
One time I tried to find out from the pastor as to who introduced him to the game and why he finds it beneficial. His answers made me learn something interesting about the game. He said the focus on the ball, and the focus on the desired destination, the calculations, and the degree of concentration can tremendously help a stressed person get distressed. According to Dr. Mann (2010), golf is a very complicated game that requires both physical and mental skills. The teaching methods focuses upon the mechanics and leave out the most important aspect of the game: the mental/psychological aspects. The golf swing is very reactive to one's inner thoughts and feelings. In order to play at one's best, the golfer needs to be focused, relaxed, balanced, committed, confident, positive, and emotionally stable (Mann, 2010). The players are encouraged to avoid distraction which includes negative thoughts, doubt, fear, emotional reactions, and the inability to sustain focus.
The deacon shared his experience that golf helped him a great deal to relieve his stress. He had some major issues going on in his family that almost made him commit suicide but him being a believer, that wasn’t an option. Reflecting on his divorce from his wife of several years was just an extreme pressure he didn’t know how to handle it. His support group encouraged him to go with them to the field and play golf. He said he felt relieved even though he didn’t understand the rules and regulations of the game at the time. He began with the baby steps and then subsequently advanced from one level to the other, and with proper guidance he started getting better day by day. Now, He has been playing golf even when he is not stressed out. It has become a habit that occupies his mind and makes him focus on the important things in life.
Lessons learned from the two golfers
In my opinion I do believe that any game can help relieve stress, especially the game that involves real physical activities, one that can make someone sweat and feel the muscles and ligaments adjusting. The studies shows health benefits of playing golf, when it is done the right way and for the right purposes. One has to play golf for fun and not for competition or money because having to compete, is another cause for stress. According to Marsiglia (2007), playing golf is not only physically good for you; it also releases powerful, natural, mood enhancing drugs called endorphins into your bloodstream. Playing golf is a real physical exercise because at the end of the game one will have walked four to eight miles; the swinging of clubs uses different muscles e.g. the arm, shoulder, back, and leg muscles, muscles that normally has less or none activity in the course of a normal day. Golf also reduces stress and bad cholesterol, two things that everyone ought to have less or none at all. A single game of golf can burn up to a thousand calories, which is a great way to burn off excess fat and stay in shape (Marsiglia, 2007). The other noted health benefits, include golf being a wonderful cardio-vascular exercise since it gets the blood flowing and increases heart rate. So golf is truly beneficial after all.
Mann, D. (2010). Golf Coaching. Retrieved from http://ronmann.com/peak-performance-coaching/golf-coaching/
Marsiglia, R. (2007). Health benefits of playing golf. Retrieved from http://www.lasr.net/recreationarticles.php?ID=1522