There are a great many sports and activities which can promote good health and a powerful feeling of self-worth, but they may not suit everybody. While the young and generally fit individuals can take to the gym on a regular basis, and perhaps play a little tennis, soccer or rugby once in a while, the more sedentary members of our communities need to look elsewhere. Thankfully, there is a sport that's perfect for a slightly slower pace of life.
Golf has remained a popular pastime for millions of people for many decades, and it continues to offer players the chance to enjoy some fresh air and to undertake a long walk in the open countryside. A round of golf covering 18 holes generally requires the player to walk for around six miles - a sizable distance, of course, but one that can be achieved by most people. The benefits to the participant's health should not be underestimated.
One of the most pleasing aspects of golf is that it can be played by such a large cross-section of society. The very young and the very old are just as capable of getting involved, so for the vast majority of people there's no longer any need to remain in front of the TV complaining about feeling unhealthy. The sensible option is to simply pay a visit to the local public course and make a few enquiries about the best way to make the most of the facilities that are found there.
No longer just a game for the wealthy
There was a time when golf was something of a luxury pursuit, a game that was only really open to the wealthy middle and upper classes. This is no longer the case in most countries; even in class-conscious Great Britain you are just as likely to see builders and taxi drivers take to the fairways as you are to witness army officers and high court judges heading to the first tee. Although golf is a long way from being the sport for everyman, it's nowhere near as exclusive and forbidding as it once was.
Some people, perhaps especially those who are inexperienced at the game, find it a little embarrassing to play when others are watching. This is perfectly understandable, of course, but most players - even those who excel at the game - recognise that others have to start somewhere. As long as they are not holding up play for everyone else, their shortcomings are generally understood. And if they are making others wait, all they need to do is call them through so they can get on with their own games.
Golfing holidays have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many destinations offering the perfect facilities for true enjoyment of the game in the ideal weather conditions. Portugal, Spain and Florida are just some of the locations which have become firm favourites with players from all over the world. Thanks to the Internet, it's easy to organise flights, hotel accommodation and tee times long before you travel. And if you have time to play some courses that are a little further away, car hire is very affordable.
Those potential newcomers to the game who are on a budget will be pleased to know you don't have to spend a fortune on clubs and other golf equipment. There are several websites which offer excellent deals, and online auction sites do a thriving trade in second-hand items. The very latest state of the art drivers can cost a small fortune, of course, but unless you specifically want to use one of them you should stick to the bargain basement when you first start to play this enjoyable, rewarding and healthy sport.
Sam Wilkes is a keen golfer from the UK.