Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the 1994 World Scientific Congress of Golf

By A. J. Cochran; M. R. Farrally | Go to book overview

90

Golf, development and the human sciences: the swing is not the only thing

B. Stoddart

University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

Abstract

This paper attempts a reminder that golf is a major social phenomenon and, as such, is open to meaningful interpretation by researchers in the social sciences and the humanities. Examples are developed from issues surrounding the creation of new golf courses, especially in the developing world; from cultural shifting which results in altered social patterning, and from literary accounts. A central point is that the human passion for golf is not only an interesting case for academic observation, but also the principal ingredient in the worldwide boom that is so central to the economic growth of the golf industry.

Keywords: Social factors, Land, Anti-golf, Growth, Culture, Change, Literature


1 Introduction

Let us start with a simple proposition: if ever human beings became disinclined to devote time and money in search of better ways to propel a small white ball into a distant hole (and diverted that energy, say, towards solving world conflict, famine and disease), then conferences like this would never happen. A logical extension to the argument is that most, if not all the deeper problems confronting the game in its current boom are social rather than technical. At a more subtle level, solutions to the mysteries of addiction to golf are to be found more in literary and social science forms than in swing manuals which treat the symptoms rather than diagnose the disease.

In his chapter in the Badminton volume, for example, Lord Wellwood (1890) ascribed a rather simple set of social characteristics as the reason for golf's popularity: pleasurable exercise, different skill levels, available to all ages, open to women, playable at any time and not dependent on numbers, and financially accessible. On closer investigation, though, few if any of those characteristics explain the sheer human passion which has driven golf across virtually every culture and into every country on earth during

Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. Edited by A.J. Cochran and M.R. Farrally. Published in 1994 by E & FN Spon, London. ISBN 0 419 18790 1

-611-

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