The Game of Golf: Good for Easing Depression and Anxiety


We’ve all seen pictures of frustrated golfers smashing the ground with a golf club or tossing their putter into a pond.

These images make it difficult to imagine that playing golf can help people relieve symptoms of depression or anxiety.

However, hitting a small ball across acres of grass, woods, water and sand can ease psychological distress for several reasons.

Therapeutic Benefits of Playing Golf

Golf Involves Concentration and Mindfulness

The game of golf provides a few hours of mental and emotional distraction, taking the mind away from depressed thoughts and worries. The game requires focused concentration and present-moment awareness to filter out everything unrelated to the ball reaching the next green and rolling into the cup.

In fact, golf has a very zen quality:

“A sand trap is like a politician in its duality. It represents two opposing viewpoints. You see, it was designed to trap your ball. So it exists to have balls land in it. But it was also designed to be avoided. So it also exists to not have balls land in it. This is the beauty of golf. The game of golf is a Zen koan in action.” ~ Jarod Kintz

Golf Gets Us Outdoors

We all benefit from spending time in nature, even when it is a bit manicured. Breathing fresh non-conditioned air and being in contact with the earth bathes us in mood-lifting, energizing negative air ions. Between shots, we can appreciate the surrounding beauty and get our daily sunshine supply of vitamin D.

You also get to show-off your individuality:

“Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.” ~ Dave Barry

Golf Is a Social Activity

Although golf is not typically a team sport, it is a social activity. It involves getting out of the house, spending time with one to three other hackers, bantering between holes, and discussing “should-haves” over beer after the 18th green. For people who tend to isolate, golf can be a therapeutic weekly adventure.

Sometimes you even make new friends:

“If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.” ~ Jack Lemmon, actor

Golf Gets Us Moving

Golf is not the most aerobic of activities, but it gets us moving. Walking is excellent exercise, and we get plenty of it by leaving the golf carts parked at the clubhouse. When hoofing the course we will also burn 400 calories an hour, and swinging a club keeps our joints flexible.

You may also experience moments of awe:

“The motion of the body determining the motion of the ball - its flight as extension of the body like a spider riding the wind on a silken thread or a perfectly cast fly arcing down onto the surface of the water.” ~ John Dunn, Loopers


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