Regardless of your talent for the game, golf can do wonders for your mental health, according to several studies, including a 2009 Swedish study that found golfers have an “increase in life expectancy of about five years.”
Two key benefits of playing golf include positive social interaction and what’s known as “green exercise,” or moderate physical activity in natural environments.
Studies have shown that something as simple as giving your playing partner a fist bump after a good shot can release the hormone oxytocin, which produces higher levels of trust and lower levels of cortisol, which in turn lowers stress.
Bob Dastoli, a PGA Class A Professional who has worked in the Northeastern New York Section since 1977, embodies the powerful social benefits of the game.
“For me, there has always been a special bond playing with three other people for four hours then enjoying a sandwich and drink while looking back on certain shots, talking about a particular rule or something humorous that happened during the round,” Dastoli says. “Many of those friendships blossomed into life-long relationships that continue to this day.”
Playing an outdoor sport such as golf also counteracts the symptoms of seasonal effect disorder and provides a powerful dose of the mood boosting Vitamin D.
“Even if I had to work at a job inside, my mind would have been on the golf course,” Dastoli says. “I remember being on the first tee on any given Saturday morning, meeting hundreds of people from all walks of life and offering perhaps a question on the rules, a tip of the day, or simply a word of encouragement to a junior.”
Golf has also been used as a more serious form of therapy for people struggling with mental health issues, substance abuse or even neurological disorders. In 2017, Golf Channel profiled Gary Smith, who turned to golf to help combat the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. He played as often as five times per week, and soon noticed improvements in balance, walking, movement, control and concentration.
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