Top 5 Things People Hate About Golf

Duke Cultural Anthropologist Orin Starn on Society's Pet Peeves about Golf

Golf: You love it or you hate it.
Golf: You love it or you hate it.

Orin Starn doesn't hate golf. He likes it quite a lot in fact, so much so that his most recent book examines Tiger Woods, golf's biggest star, and his fall from grace following a recent sex scandal.

But Starn, chair of Duke's cultural anthropology department -- and a 5 handicap, if you're wondering -- knows that for every person who loves golf, there's another who finds it loathsome.

Here, he offers up his Top 5 Reasons People Hate Golf.1. Those tacky Bermuda shorts

And that's not even to mention the white belts and plastic lounge-lizard shoes. Golf fashion aesthetics seem to be the disastrous anti-thesis of any L.L. Bean, Patagonia or Whole Foods-shopping standards of good liberal taste; they lend themselves well to caricatures of the game as boring sport for overweight rich white men at exclusive country clubs.

The real history of the sport is not quite so simple, with more populist, democratic traditions side-by-side with its less appealing ones. One of the very first civil rights protests in North Carolina involved six avid black golfers, including the local NAACP president, challenging the whites-only policy of Greensboro's Gillespie Park course. There's a strong African-American golf tradition.2. The grandfather I never liked in Scottsdale plays all the timeOne of the beauties of golf is that it can be played by people of all ages. Soccer was my first love and I played on my college team. But after 40, your body doesn't want to play real sports anymore. And, unless your passion is shuffleboard or bocce, golf becomes one of your precious few sporting options. It's actually pretty good exercise to walk 18 holes of golf -- about six or seven miles -- lugging the 30-pound weight of your bag.3. It's not yogaI've heard the Duke golf team does yoga regularly, as do a number of professional golfers. The flexibility is good for your swing. But, conversely, I don't think flailing away at the little white golf ball for 18 holes is good for your yoga technique, much less your karmic inner peace.4. Donald Trump likes itYes, it's true. His ultra-elite courses -- that cost as much as $450 for a single round -- typify the larger growth of super-expensive resort tourism of the last decade or so. There's a whole circuit of cruises, golf resorts, luxury hotels and spas and the like that very much cater to the proverbial one percent of Americans who can afford them.5. Watching golf on TV is more boring than standing in line at the cell phone store I'm not too proud to admit that I love watching big golf tournaments like the Masters and U.S. Open on TV. But it is a very strange spectator sport in some ways. The hushed silence of the crowd makes it sound like a golf course is a museum or a church, and the pace is, well, slow. I will say that the TV networks know the demographics of their viewership, mostly middle-aged or older men. Most of the commericals seem to be for Viagra or Cialis.