If you’ve never played golf, perhaps you’ll never understand the attraction. But if you’re like many celebrities–whether they’ve been playing for years or just recently began to tee it up–you’ll agree that the game has an unusual appeal that can consume you.
Golf has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, so much so that the game–long and wrongly considered a less-than-physically-challenging sport–is inspiring yoga and Pilates workouts. Celebrity golfers, who often pay personal trainers big money to help them get in shape and help them stay physically fit–say there are some definite physical benefits associated with an outing on the links.
Experts say you can get the most out of a round of golf if you walk the course, the length of which can measure about 5 miles, depending on the course. Walking improves your cardiovascular health, builds endurance and allows you to burn a moderate amount of calories. If you carry your clubs, you can get an upper body workout as well. And hitting the ball actually can improve your hand-eye coordination, which can be useful in many other areas.
Many celebrities and professional athletes have begun playing to add another level of competition to their lives and to be able to spend more time together with their families, who are joining them on the course.
Some players like Oakland Raiders cornerback Ray Buchanan love the sport so much that he and his wife, Sheree, built their dream home at Sugarloaf Country Club in Duluth, Ga., home of the PGA Tour’s Bellsouth Classic. Their multimillion-dollar mansion overlooks the 9th hole, and Buchanan, a former Pro-Bowler, plays two to three times a week during the off-season.
“At first, I didn’t like golf,” says Buchanan, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. “But after a while, it was like a virus–so contagious that I wanted to keep playing and learn more.”
Sheree Buchanan, who starred as part of the “NFL wives” team in the Emmy-winning reality TV series The Amazing Race 4, just started playing golf a few months ago, in an effort to spend more time with her husband. She took up golf; he took up her favorite sport–tennis. She’s just beginning to understand why her husband loves the game so much–the competition with yourself and a desire to always do better. Eventually, the couple hopes that their four children will grow to love the sport as much as they do.
“[Golf is] still brand new for me,” Sheree says. “For us, it’s fun. He teaches me, and as long as we don’t have a lot of people [playing] behind us, it’s OK.”
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who also owns an entertainment company and nonprofit foundation, says he started playing golf when he entered the NFL and “fell in love with it.”
“Golf is something that is very relaxing for me,” says Muhammad, who already is encouraging his 3-year-old son to play. “I think being able to play golf allows you to meet and associate with different people.”
But it’s not only professional athletes who enjoy time on the course. Actors such as Samuel L. Jackson and Will Smith, and singer Johnny Gill also love the game. Even celebrity couples make the rounds together.it comes to golf: “We wish we had started to play when we were kids.”