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Thoughts on Golf and Cycling...(43 posts)

Thoughts on Golf and Cycling...TJeanloz
Jul 24, 2001 9:53 AM
Every Tuesday morning this summer I have been playing golf in a group of formerly fast cyclists. All have essentially given up the sport- we still ride, but not obsessively, and don't race. This morning, we got to talking about how really similar the two sports are.

I know what you're thinking, golf is not a sport, it's a game. It's sooooo much easier than bike racing. How could I dare compare the two? Well, lets look objectively at it: Bike racers train constantly. Hours a day, every day. Well, I've been spending that kind of time at the driving range lately. Both sports are very equipment intensive. Golf gear and technology is every bit as changing and complicated as bike stuff. In both sports the participants spend hours obsessing about how they can change their score minutely. When I was racing, I constantly thought about what I could do to take 5 seconds off a 40k TT time. Now I constantly think about what I can do to take 1 stroke off my game. The solution in both cases is the same: buy something that will make it easier. It could be a disc wheel, it could be a new driver.

In short, I have newfound respect for the sport of golf and the people who play it. And let me tell you, walking 18 holes is no picnic. It's not hard to play, but it's hard to play well. It is also not hard to ride a bike- but it is hard to ride one fast.
re: Thoughts on Golf and Cycling...pulver
Jul 24, 2001 10:09 AM
I had similar thoughts on this subject as well. In both activities, the right fit of the bike/clubs is critical and has a direct impact on efficiency and risk of injury (more risk obviously in cycling). Also, whether addressing a golf shot or accomplishing a race/ride it isn't entirely about physical strength/conditioning as it is about the mental approach, strategy, planning, if you will. When Lance waited for Ullrich it there was strategy in mind in riding with him rather than being seperated. Lastly, there is much involved in how people handle themsleves in terms of mannerisms, courtesies, teamsmanship, etc. Tiger and Lance are class acts that make you proud to go out and engage in the sport.

The beauty for us as cyclists is we create our own courses that have no greens fees, we can go well beyond the equivalent of 18 rounds if we wish without checking with a course ranger and then when we are done we can find our own club house (at our favorite coffee/beverage establishment)to reflect and chat about life's challenges and accomplishments.
Golf is great but there is no strategysidley
Jul 24, 2001 10:51 AM
First let me say, I play golf. Have since I was about 15. Second, this is a bit of a sore point with me but I must vent. There is no strategy to golf! You try to hole it with as few shots as possible -- that's it, that's the entire "game" -- no matter what course or who is playing. Execution of that is, of course (pun intended), a very difficult task but it does not require strategy.

A coordinated effort to exploit the perceived weaknesses of your opponent to the best of your ability given the conditions is the essence of sports strategy. Football has strategy, baseball has strategy, cycling has strategy. Golf does not.
I disagree...TJeanloz
Jul 25, 2001 9:26 AM
A lot of people think that golf has no strategy- simply not true. Every (o.k. most) holes have a number of different ways in which you can play them- typically there's a way that involves more risk of going o.b., but has the payoff of potentially saving you a stroke. With each shot you make, you need to weigh the rewards of saving the stroke vs. the risk of a really bad lie or penalty. When you're competing, down by a stroke, you're more likely to take the risk; up by a stroke and you play it safe.
On Your Right . . . . Fore!BobA
Jul 24, 2001 10:12 AM
I agree. I see a lot of golf bashing on this site and I do not understand why. Like cyclists, golfers take their game seriously and are every bit as committed to achieving their personal best. As a cyclist with an 8 handicap, I enjoy both activities, but I never compare them in the same breath. It's like comparing mountain climbers with chess players. Both activities have devoted fanatics, but they are so foundationally different that a comparison is really an invalid exercise. I think most of the smack talk here is from people who do not fully understand the game of golf and/or themselves. Side note: - I never hear golfers bashing cyclists or any other group (well, maybe bowlers).
re: Thoughts on Golf and Cycling...Bike Fool
Jul 24, 2001 10:13 AM
Amen, brothuhs! Twenty years in the saddle and 10 on the golf course, I won't give up either until I can't do either.
Don't Kid Yourself.grzy mnky
Jul 24, 2001 10:28 AM
First Golf isn't aerobic excercise, unless you're playing speed golf for time or trying not to get hit by a bad shot. So you walk all 18 and carry your own clubs - most places this isn't even allowed.

Nothing like having to pony up $$$$ to play on a nice course - the roads are free on a bike.

Crashing in golf doesn't end in and ER visit and road rash - unless you fall off the cart from to many beers.

One thing in common - it's another excuse to dress funny in public.

Another thing in common - you can spend all sorts of money on equipment and still suck.

Sure doing anything realy well takes dedication, practice and skill, but you could say that about virtually anything: sex, badmiton, checkers, eating/farting contests.....

I'd say your point is pretty moot.

Friends don't let friends play golf. ;-)
Jul 25, 2001 9:28 AM
Actually, according to a WSJ article a few weeks ago, golf has become the #2 sport for visits to the doctor. And it's number 1 for those over 50.
Injuries,grzy mnky
Jul 25, 2001 10:36 AM
I believe it. Far more out of shape people participating. Chiropracters love it b/c it's such and asymetrical/unballanced loading of the body. Still, it's hard to compare getting hit by a golf ball vs. a car or a truck. They can both kill you, but one is far more efficient.
When I get too old to ride bikes I'll start playing golf (nm)Bruno S
Jul 24, 2001 10:29 AM
re: Thoughts on Golf and Cycling...VaMootsman
Jul 24, 2001 10:29 AM
It's still a silly, silly game. As invalid as the comparison is, you could substitute most any sport/game in the world and have the same argument. Dominoes, darts, football or frisbee. My biggest complaint about golf is the incredible amount of acreage and infrustruture the game commands. Tens of thousands of acres, incredible up-keep, fertilizers, club houses, parking, etc., etc. I know of no other game that takes so much of everything to make it worthwhile. Silly, silly, silly.

I was at a weeding this past weekend. My hotel was right on a golf course. Man, I thought cycling had alot of freds and hacks......
re: Thoughts on Golf and Cycling...dug
Jul 24, 2001 10:54 AM
Spare us all. "walking 18 holes is no picnic" ?? Acres upon acres of land wrecked and polluted with fertilizers, insecticides and other chemicals because of a neurotic activity. The infrastructure built into such a ridiculous game never ceases to amaze me. Cycling is an activity that commands some respect for your body. Bicycles can be used for recreation, commuting, competition, or just riding around town. Atheletes can certainly play golf, but it is NOT a sport. Golfers dwell ENDLESSLY about their "sport" (they are worse than cyclists and thats hard to do...) so I know I will get flamed. It dosen't matter. There is no comparison between cycling and golf. period.
Miles and Miles of landnutmegger
Jul 24, 2001 5:51 PM
wrecked and despoiled by endless "ribbons of highway" (apologies to Woody). So both cycling and the game of golf take advantage of man's ability to alter his environment. Is that not a valid comparison or has my liberal arts education failed me again? Has anyone here ever had a compare and contrast essay question that required actual thought. Of course there are valid comparisons between the two activities as the original poster pointed out. They're obvious and can't be dismissed. However, I grant that there are a great many obvious differences between them which also cannot be ignored. The question is not moot.
Dear Nutmegger,seth1
Jul 25, 2001 4:50 AM
When was the last time one square inch of anything ever been paved over for the benefit of a cyclist?


On the other hand, natural habitat is constantly being clear-cut, buldozed, irrigated, plumbed, sodded, fertilized, and herbicided for golfers.
Ah, you forgot some history....grzy mnky
Jul 25, 2001 8:25 AM
Roads were initially paved for the sole purpose of bicycles since the auotmobile hadn't been invented yet. Now think about all those bike paths that are popping up in urban areas and the extra wide shoulders that are now bike lanes.
Dear Nutmegger,ak
Jul 25, 2001 8:48 AM
dear seth1
ever seen a paved bike path?
I hate golf with a passion, but I really wish you had thought about your post before you sent it.
Ok, I conceed .... sort ofseth1
Jul 25, 2001 9:03 AM
Those bike paths (at least all of the ones I've seen) are really multi-use paths, not strictly for bicycle use. They are for pedestrians, roller-skaters, scooter-riders, skate-boarders, dog-walkers and yes, cyclists. Basically every means of transport other than motorized vehicles.
Ok, I conceed .... sort ofak
Jul 25, 2001 10:31 AM
sure, and golf courses are for golfers, rich people who want to be a member in an 'elite' club, and college cross country runners who race on them every fall. But its the Golfers that had them built just like it was the Bikers who had the bike paths & bike lanes built. (hense the term "bike path")
Give it up.grzy mnky
Jul 25, 2001 10:39 AM
You made a blanket statement that we showed was just plain wrong.

Go to your room.
check this outNutz
Jul 24, 2001 11:30 AM
go to and read the "Lance and me" thread... all you knuckleheads that have already posted ought to read it as well. While you're there, contribute to the "What I bought because of Lance" thread.

BTW, can this be the end of golf threads on this site? Or shall we just link to the boards at
Golf just sucksLC
Jul 24, 2001 11:44 AM
It is not really any better to your heath and conditioning then sitting in a traffic jam. The good courses charge a lot, and make you drive in that little cart.

We have a huge water shortage around here and lawns are drying out, the dams are going dry, the salmon don't have enough water to spawn, forest fires going on for weeks and thousands of acres are burning. The fertilizers they use on the grass is leetching in the water supply.

On the bright side the golf courses are lush and green.

The cost is just too great so that you can hit a little ball into a hole.

Maybe if you at least ride your bike to the golf course you won't waste any gas, but no it's too hard to carry your clubs.
there's one main similarity and one main differenceET
Jul 24, 2001 11:46 AM
similarity: The warning shouts in each are counterproductive: shouting "fore" causes everyone to look up and makes the chances of someone getting hit on the head or eye higher than if you said nothing, and shouting "on your left" causes pedestrian or novice cyclist to veer directly into you.

difference: a fat golfer can do well.
biggest difference - PAINDog
Jul 24, 2001 11:56 AM
Golf doesn't hurt. Bike racing hurts a lot. You must be able to endure, even thrive on, pain to be good at bike racing. Plus, no matter how good you get, it is always there. It doesn't get easier, you just go faster.

Golf is the bike equivalent of going 30 mph in spurts and trying to hit a spot on the road 1/4 inch wide.

Golf can cause some muscle soreness from the swinging and walking if you are not used to it. Golfing using a cart is the exact same thing as bowling.

ARE ROADIES JERKS?The Concerned Citizen
Jul 24, 2001 12:03 PM
Or is it just this board? Seems like a whole lot of closed minds and intolerant people. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it.
Hypocritegrzy mnky
Jul 24, 2001 12:46 PM
I have tried golf - it still sucks! Why would *you* be closed minded and intollerant enough to think that we haven't tried it? So, since I've tried it I guess I get to keep knocking it....

Face it this is road bike site if you wanna go fawn and gush over Tiger go somewhere else. Golf is good in one respect. It gives boring, fat and aging guys somewhere to go. Watching golf on TV is like watching paint dry.

Why don't we compare biking and stamp collecting? 'Cause no one cares!
grz mnky...chim-chim
Jul 24, 2001 12:51 PM
still an @sshole. I guess some things never change!
Hey @SSHOLE, you forgot your email....grzy mnky
Jul 24, 2001 12:59 PM
Lemme guess, you're golfer right?
ARE ROADIES JERKS?--"intolerant people"???Dog
Jul 25, 2001 5:26 AM

The Two things you are not allowed to discuss here...keith m.
Jul 24, 2001 12:23 PM
are Golf and Christ. Guarenteed flame session.
you forgot Litespeed (nm)chim-chim
Jul 24, 2001 12:26 PM
or shimano/campyColnagoFE
Jul 24, 2001 12:34 PM
though that often falls under religion for most.
... or spelling :-) nmDog
Jul 25, 2001 5:27 AM
my idea of a perfect day...Lou M
Jul 24, 2001 12:31 PM
riding 40 miles at the crack of dawn and playing 18 holes after lunch... that can be pretty challenging.
my idea of a perfect day...Roy Zipris
Jul 25, 2001 11:53 AM
Or, a perfect day...playing 18 holes at the crack of dawn and riding 40 miles after lunch....

One of the similarities, for me, is the beauty of an early morning excursion, whether on the golf course or my bike. I've seen blue herons, foxes, turtles, ducks, geese, deer...

One sunny January day, when my father-in-law and I were the only people on the golf course (southeastern PA can be cccccold in January!) we were startled by a pounding sound behind us as we prepared to putt--two deer, thundering along the fairway towards us. As they drew parallel to the green, not more than 20 feet from us, they stopped and looked around, the breath spurting from their nostrils like steam, then ran off into the nearby woords. Like god smiling on us....

And walking a golf course in the early morning, before anyone else gets out, you hear your heartbeat as you do on solo bike rides, and the crunch of your step is like the sound of your tires.

Both can be zen-like experiences, if you are open.
Golf is a different kind of mental.....Len J
Jul 24, 2001 12:33 PM
Challange than Biking. In both sports, at the moment of truth, it's all about you. Can you do it, will you do it, You can't blame anyone else. Very similar.

Now for what I think is the main difference, type of mental challange. In Biking, Doug is right, it's about the pain, it's about performaing and relaxing when it hurts, in spite of it hurting. In golf, It's about getting out of your own way & doing something close to perfect. The difference between a hole in one and a shot that ends 3 ft from the hole on a 150 yard par 3 is so small at the time of impact it is almost unmeasurable. Doug's comment about hitting a spot on the ground at 30 mph is a good analogy. And the ball is not moving when you hit it. Golf is about the combination of large & small muscle movement in a syncronicity that is mind numbing. It's not about hitting a perfect shot (which everyone does once in a while) its about repeating it, when you need it, when it counts, when the pressure is on.

Whoever said there is no strategy has never played in a close match that meant something. Golf is so much about playing within your own capabilities and knowing when to take a risk and when not to that it takes many years to learn. (sound like any other sport you know)

The comments about the environmental impact of golf courses is laughable for two reasons:
1.)In urban settings, sometimes the only habitat for wildlife is the golf course. The only Oxygen producing plants exist on the golf course &
2.)The next time you ride your steel, Aluminum, or Titanium bike, think about the strip mine that the ore came out of, think about the environmentally friendly steel mill that produced the Alloy. C'mon people!

I am not trying to pretend that Golf courses don't bring out some of the worst in people at times, but it also brings out (In my experience) some of the best. How many sports would you see what Ian Woosnam did on the second tee on the final round of the British Open, call a 2 stroke penalty on himself for a rules infraction (that may have cost himm the championship). Sounds similar to some of the sportsmanship we've seen on the TDF in the last week.

IMHO they are both wonderful sports that "exercise" different dimensions of our human potential. End of Rant.
Very nicely done. nmLazy
Jul 24, 2001 12:41 PM
Golf is a different kind of mental.....dug
Jul 24, 2001 1:17 PM
You are WRONG about the environmental aspect stated in your post. Strip mines produce Aluminum, Titanium, Steel, etc. for MANY industries with tubing for frames as a very small percentage. Golf courses are dedicated to one - and only one - ridiculous activity. As I originally stated in my previous post, golfers will dwell ENDLESSLY about their silly obsession. Constantly defending their 'sport'.
... wait, I took next week off, lefts talk about my backswing. There is no such thing as "end of rant" with a golfer.
Golf is a different kind of mental.....Bike Fool
Jul 24, 2001 2:32 PM
I think that was well said, Lou M., and I must say I am quite taken aback by some of the vitriol spewed about this rather mundane subject. A previous post said something about the perfect day being 40 miles in the morning and getting in 18 holes after lunch. Utopia!! As for the rest of the naysayers, why limit yourself to only one of life's greater pleasures?
I guess....grzy mnky
Jul 24, 2001 6:06 PM
...the original point was about how similar golf and cycling are. Why limit ourselves to such a narrow comparison? Why not all sports that take skill and practice? Ping pong vs. cycling. Golf vs. sailing. Curling vs. "my sport". At least curling is in the Olympics.... Kinda assinine when one thinks about it.

Ultimately this is a NG about bikes, not golf, so it's no surprise that we're not going to get much agreement on the "G" word, heck we can't even agree on bicycle stuff - 'cept Lance is a god (and I'm atheist).

Next, let's compare biking to grocery shopping.....
I guess....cycleguy
Jul 25, 2001 6:44 AM
after reading all this I find one common link. You can do either and still be an idiot.
Very, very different to the observerStarliner
Jul 24, 2001 10:18 PM
There is a similarity between the two in that according to some people, neither is a sport, but rather, they are activities masquerading as sports.

Golf is a vastly superior sport to watch on tv and in person. TV viewers can count on golf's many dramatic photo opportunities - a great chip shot to the pin, a long putt that comes up an inch short, etc. etc. It is a game that a spectator, in person, can easily follow by just following the golfers around as they play. It's a game that's far simpler to watch than it is to play.

Cycling? Well, it's just not a great spectator sport. The important aspects of a race such as team tactics are virtually invisible to the best cameras, not to mention the average sports fan. Plus, it can be pretty cheesy to watch a bunch of motorcycles and Renaults travelling below the speed limit as they chaperone the racers along the route. Can't the bikes go any faster? And sometimes the racers look like they aren't even racing -- talking to each other, etc. -- so a spectator looking to be taken in by excitement and drama may get confused or even bored.

For me, cycling is something I'd rather do than watch. Golf is something I'd rather watch than do.
interestingDuane Gran
Jul 25, 2001 4:29 AM
Your post is giving me some more insight into Golf, which I'll confess I'm largely ingorant of. That said, I'll try supress some of my bias and negative thoughts about the activity. I suppose anything is more difficult and challenging once you really get into it. As an observer on the side it doesn't look that engaging though. My personal feeling is that people play the game earnestly seeking to recreate that one really good swing they felt once. It looks to be an extremely frustrating experience, but there must be enough reward to bring people back. Personally, I rarely have a bad day on the bike and I always get that "good feeling" even if I flat.

Your post helps me to walk in your shoes a little, even if I find the thought of walking 18 holes as mildly recreational. I suspect I would find it more challenging than I'm able to imagine at this point. Story time...

A friend of mine was big into running (and also had a bike) and explained how he didn't get as good of a workout on the bike as when running. I invited him to ride with me and showed him how racers train. He got a good workout. This isn't to brag about me riding him off my wheel or anything like that, but rather to illustrate that he rode recreationally and wondered why it wasn't a workout.

My point? I still doubt that golfing would make me break a sweat, but I bet if I went out and did it with an experienced golfer I would find it to be much harder than it seems from the sidelines.

I still think I'm a roadie at heart though.
golf is great, right Cima Coppi?!
Jul 25, 2001 6:25 AM
I especially like trying to hit bikers that ride past the driving range.