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The Spirit of the Game
So, what makes golf, over the centuries and across so many countries, the most fascinating and addictive, and at the same time, irritating and all-consuming of sports ?

The secret of golf lies in its various qualities and contrasts.
Golf is one of the most individual of sports and at the same time the only sport that offers a personal guide and companion in the form of a caddie. It is a game of humility, but also a great leveler, allowing players of different ages and proficiencies to compete against one another. On top of this, golf is an intellectual game that involves a considerable amount of strategy and thought, but leaves time for contemplation and favors our sense of observation and our imagination.

The essence of golf explains this unique combination of longevity and popularity in so many countries and resides in the following characteristics:

Golf is a game of hope.
While in most other sports our experience is inversily proportional to our youthful form (the more we gain of the first, the more we lose of the latter), golf is a game of technique and intellect more than of stamina and strength, leaving the dream of an unlimited and uncompromised progress possible.

Furthermore, golf's handicapping system is designed in such a way that enables the neophyte to play competitively against the expert. Which other sports allow you to compete on equal footing against the pros ? Actually, golf is the best game in the world for the bad player. Unlike in many other sports, where the novice player is bundled out of the way by his more experienced partner or opponent, in golf it is the bad player who gets the most strokes. As A.A. Milne puts it:"However good his opponent, the bad player has the right to play out each hole to the end".

Golf teaches the virtues of determination, respect and humility.
Unlike many sports, golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. Indeed, the game relies almost solely on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players, to respect the course and to abide by the game's rules. Sportmanship and etiquette are integral parts of the game.

At the same time, golf is the most individual of sports. We may think we are competing against our playing partners on the course, or against the course itself, but ultimately we are playing against ourselves. As a result, golf tends to magnify our personal character strengths and flaws and can teach us developing patience and pursuing happiness and personal fulfillment.

Golf is a game of escape and contemplation.
Golf is a great escape from the daily stress, as it is played over invariably pleasant, beautiful and captivating landscapes.
With the leisurely, contemplative, almost Proustian pace of the game (as Robert Sidorsky puts it), golf offers plenty of time to ponder and reflect. It appeals to the close observer of nature and those interested in the artistic challenge of shaping the natural landscape. More than any other sport, golf is a game of the imagination.

Further reading :
Golf's Greatest Moments, by Robert Sidorsky. New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, 2003.
The Story of Golf, by George Peper. Copyright © 1999 by Cramer Productions.
Golf's Greatest Moments
by Robert Sidorsky
Illustrated literary tour concentrating on each of the main aspects of the game and its historical development, the great players, the great courses, and the great virtues of golf.
More information:
by C. Marien-de Luca
Golf Obsession
Copyright: Jeffrey Zavitski
Golf is a very old game and one that has proven truly international in its appeal. History shows that from the very beginning, this game was dangerously addictive. Indeed, the first written evidence of golf is a parliamentary decree banning it for reasons of national security. In 1457, King James II of Scotland declared "that futeball and golfe be utterly cryit doune and nocht usit" because the Scottish lads had been neglecting their archery practice,  the principal technique of combat, in favor of golf.
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The Rules of Golf
The Etiquette of Golf
Safety on the Golf course
History of Golf (1457-1847)
Story Of Golf
by George Peper
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1,001 Reasons to Love Golf
by Mary Tiegreen, Hubert Pedroli
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