The mental benefits of playing golf will have you booking more tee times
For years, I’ve been looking for a scientifically-backed reason to play more golf.
Sure, I care about the actual physical and mental benefits of playing golf, but, more so, I just want to use those reasons as an excuse to tell my wife that I’m booking tee times as much as possible. Sorry I’m not sorry for being obsessed with the game.
Considering you’re reading GOLF.com right now, I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that you share a similar love for the game.
The interest in golf has boomed in recent years, with new players picking up clubs for the first time, and veteran golfers trying to hone their skills (even as they age). Proof of this comes from the National Golf Foundation, which reported that over 25 million Americans played golf in 2021 — that’s over 2 million per month, and about 70,000 people per day.
In a separate 2020 survey of 250 golfers from around the world, the No. 1 reason golfers golf is to support their “mental well-being” — so despite all of those bad shots and frustrating scorecards, there actually is joy in playing more frequently!
So what are the mental benefits of playing golf? I highlight some of the most important ones below.
Supports anxiety and depression relief
Like other forms of exercise, one of the mental benefits of playing golf is stimulating your mind to help relieve anxiety and depression. While moving around on the golf course is one way to support this, another reason is because you’re outside — which is proven to boost your mood.
Whether you plan on walking nine or 18 holes, or ride in a cart, just being outside in the fresh air and under the sunshine does a lot to your overall mood. So don’t take that for granted — even if you’re slicing the ball all over the course.
Increases social interaction
Life gets busy, and people can fall into the trap of isolating themselves. But playing golf offers a fun way to engage with other people, which is important for our mental well-being.
According to Dr. Sheenie Ambardar, an L.A.-based psychiatrist, social interaction is crucial to help stave off a variety of mental health problems.
“As people get older, they tend to get more socially isolated, which can increase their chances for developing depression, anxiety and cognitive decline,” says Dr. Ambardar. “Golf provides a great avenue to combat these risks because it’s usually played around other people, thus offering a natural opportunity for camaraderie and human contact — which we know improves mental health.”
Helps build confidence
It never feels good marking a bogey or double-bogey on the scorecard, but would you believe that one of the mental benefits of playing golf is building confidence?
As any golfer knows, the more you play, the better you get. The bad shots you hit yesterday can be replaced by good shots today — and lower scores can follow. And because the game requires practicing on all aspects, it allows for growth in a number of different areas.
So go ahead and confidently stand over that putt, because you’ve got this!
Helps you practice patience
I’ve always had an active mind; which is why I’m such an avid runner. But unlike running, golf requires a patience that isn’t about going as fast as you can through 18 holes. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
That’s why one of the mental benefits of playing golf is practicing patience.
Whether you’re a new player who needs the patience and discipline to trust the process, or you’re someone looking to shave strokes and needs to realize progress won’t just happen overnight, golf forces people to stay patient. This lesson can be applied both during a round and in general life moments.