Is Golf a Sport? Tees Up Controversy with New Sports Website

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Tiger Woods at Augusta
Fans watch Tiger Woods tee off on the first hole of the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. 
Source: “Tiger Woods’ Return to the Masters Was Must-see TV, Even for Non-golf Fans,” New York Daily News, Apr. 9, 2010 
[Go directly to Golf or read the press release below for more details.]
Golf in the United States is a $76 billion industry with 25.7 million players. Thirty-eight percent of Americans call themselves golf fans. Golf is clearly popular, but whether or not it is a sport remains hotly debated. (online at, a nonpartisan research organization devoted to critical thinking on controversial issues, published its newest website to provide up-to-date scientific studies, expert analysis, historical data, and athlete perspectives on the pro and the con side of the controversy.  
The research appears on the nonprofit organization’s 43rd website, Golf, available for free at
Proponents say that golf meets the definition of “sport” found in the dictionary, requires physical exertion and coordination, and is recognized as a sport by sporting goods companies, athletic associations, fans, the media, and more. They point to golf’s inclusion in the Olympics starting in 2016 as further evidence of its qualification as a sport. 
Opponents say that golf better meets the definition of “game” than “sport,” does not require rigorous physical activity, and can be played professionally by people who are overweight, injured, or non-athletic. They argue that golf is a game or leisure activity, and they cite golf’s 112-year absence from the Olympics as proof that it is not a sport.
In addition to in-depth pro and con research, the latest website contains a historical background section, videos, photos, over 60 footnotes and sources, and Did You Know? facts including:
1. Golf was banned in Scotland in 1457 because King James II worried that people were too distracted by the game to develop the archery skills needed to protect the country from the English.
2. Golf was included in the 1900 and 1904 Olympics, then removed for 112 years until its slated return at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Like croquet, golf has been in the Olympics twice which is three less times than tug of war has been in the Olympics.
3. Golfer Tiger Woods in 2009 became the first athlete to surpass one billion dollars in career earnings (prize money and endorsements), making him the richest athlete of all time.
4. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in PGA Tour v. Martin (2001) that allowing a golfer to use a cart instead of walking the course would not “fundamentally alter the nature” of the game.
5. The Associated Press has named a golfer its “Female Athlete of the Year” 24 times (30% of honorees) since the award began in 1931; a golfer has been named “Male Athlete of the Year” nine times (11% of honorees). President Kamy Akhavan commented: “Tiger Woods could bench 315 and win the US Open with a broken leg. John Daly weighed close to 300 lbs, won two major tournaments, and sometimes smoked cigarettes while playing. They’re both great golfers, but are they both great athletes competing in a real sport? Our new site brings scientific studies and real data to advance the debate about golf, a $76 billion industry that is bigger than movies, music, and newspapers”
For more pros, cons, and related research on whether or not golf is a sport, visit