top of page

Struggles on the Course Are Just as Important as Success

Courtesy of Getty Images

More than 25.6 million Americans played a round of golf on a physical course in 2022. An additional 15.5 million participated in off-course golf-related activities, such as mini-golf or TopGolf. Overall, 119 million Americans--about one-third of the population--were involved with golf in some way, whether by playing, watching on TV or online, or reading about it. Despite this widespread participation, the odds of making a hole-in-one remain slim. Insurance companies estimate that for amateurs, the odds are about 12,500 to 1, while for professionals, the odds improve to around 3,000 to 1. Getting two hole-in-ones is even more improbable, with odds at a staggering 67 million to 1. Among golfers,  only 2-5% of 25.6 million players can break a score of 80. However, for professional golfer Nelly Korda, an 80 in the Opening Round of the Women’s US Open is significantly higher than her average score of 69.606, according to the LPGA’s statistics. 

Courtesy of Getty Images 

To reiterate; only 2-5% of all golfers, from the 25.6 million who played in 2022, are ever able to break a score of 80. Korda’s score of 80 in the Opening Round of the Women’s US Open is a reminder of how challenging golf is. Unlike many other sports, golf is different every time you step on the course. Weather conditions can significantly alter the terrain; if it’s hot and dry, the greens are hard and fast, while recent rain can make the course boggy and slow. Unlike sports such as football, where fields are standardized in size and layout, golf courses vary widely. There are no specific parameters for how a golf course must be set up, leading to a diverse range of playing experiences. In football and baseball, aside from variations like college versus professional fields or natural grass versus turf, the measurements are relatively consistent.

In golf, even the hole placements can vary day-to-day on the same course. Holes are frequently moved between the front, center, and back of the putting green, sometimes daily, to keep both professional and amateur players on their toes. Course-owners often adjust the holes as they see fit, especially if a player masters (aha) their course. One of the most notorious examples of a course changing is when Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, was altered after Tiger Woods’ historic victory. Similarly, Jack Nikolaus, known as the Golden Bear, owns and designs many courses and gave his iconic course, Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, a facelift to increase its difficulty. 

In 2023, during the Masters, Rory McIlory, the number one golfer in the world and projected top-ten finisher, was cut after being 2-over par. Rory shot a 77 during a stormy session and his failure to make the cut was highlighted in Netflix’s “Full Swing” docuseries. However, this was overshadowed by the severe weather hazards that plagued the course and spectators. Storms caused downed trees and extreme rain delays. Yet, the 2023 Masters is also remembered as one of the first tournaments to feature a head-to-head competition between LIV golfers and PGA players, adding another layer of intrigue and competition to the event. 

Courtesy of Getty Images 

Most of this goes to show that what occurs on and around the course can significantly affect your score at the end of the day. Golf is mentally one of the hardest sports; you’re playing yourself, and relying solely on your performance. It’s mentally taxing, a fact documented once again in “Full Swing,” which highlighted the benefits of using sports psychology to succeed on and off the course. 

Golf is challenging and mentally demanding, especially for those who play in college, professional, or on a team. Seeing the struggle is important as it helps put into perspective how difficult golf truly is. It reminds us that we don’t always need to put into perspective how difficult golf truly is. It reminds us that we don’t always need to be perfect; we just need to do our best, both on and off the course.

25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page