Golf: proof it’s good for you!

A walk in the park: just 20 minutes with nature beats stress

I was intrigued by a front-page headline in The Times last week. Not the one that read ‘MPs launch angry revolt over leaders’ Brexit talks’, about the latest developments in the general madness at Westminster. No, it was the one above that – ‘A walk in the park: just 20 minutes with nature beats stress’.

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“A 20-minute lunchtime stroll through a park is one of the most effective stress-busting treatments a doctor can prescribe,” read the summary of the research, which was undertaken by scientists at the University of Michigan and published in a journal called Frontiers in Psychology. It found that even a short spell in such a natural environment could lower stress levels by about 10%. I know that Mark Twain famously described golf as “a good walk spoiled”, but this is surely another reason to espouse the benefits of the game. No other sport puts its participants in such proximity to all sorts of flora; though, admittedly, that is often where one specifically does not wish one’s ball to be.

A few weeks ago I remarked on the egregious amount of time it took J.B. Holmes and other tour professionals to complete a round of golf, but maybe I was being unfair. Perhaps they have just taken communing with nature to a whole new level, notwithstanding that it’s rather boring to watch and the medical evidence suggests the longer one does this the less the comparative beneficial effects are. One of the researchers also noted: “You don’t have to travel to the wild lands. Getting out of an office block and sitting next to a tree can be enough” – although, to be frank, standing next to one didn’t do much for Rory McIlroy’s mindset when he was refused a free drop from tree roots at that WGC tournament in Mexico in February.

There’s more. Last autumn, the World Golf Foundation published a report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine which said: “Playing golf is associated with mental well-being benefits which can include improved self-esteem, self-worth, self-efficacy and social connections. The best available evidence suggests playing golf regularly is associated with increased longevity.” Certainly, it has to be one of the more enjoyable ways to achieve your 10,000 daily steps on your smart-phone app. So you know where Mark Twain can stick his opinion. The simple fact is that however bad your golf might be on any given day, your health will be the better for you having played it.

And perhaps herein lies the Brexit solution. Get Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Co on to a golf course. They will duly calm down and surely see their way to the promised land… or at least to the clubhouse. Anyhow, enough of that for now. Time to ignore Merkel and Macron for a while and concentrate on McIlroy at the Masters.

You can follow Robert Green on Twitter @robrtgreen and enjoy his other blog plus you can read more by him on golf at

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