Golf: “Time Suck” to Avoid #1

Scott Behson pisses off half his readership by pointing out how golf takes you, your time, and your money away from every other important thing in your life.

Time Suck- (n) Something that’s engrossing and addictive, but that keeps you from doing things that are actually important, like earning a living, or eating meals, or caring for your children. (from

Is playing golf the best use of our spare time? (Look what it did to Judge Smalls!)

Perhaps the greatest challenge we all face in being both a good provider and a present father is that there never seems to be enough time in a day. Our jobs and careers demand our time; our kids need a lot of us, too. It is really hard to find the time.

It is also hard to find the energy necessary to be a great dad. Stress, time demands, etc all seem to rob us of energy, and prevent us from being relaxed and present.

To help us recharge and to get us into the better mental (and physical) states necessary to be a great provider and father, we need some time for our own activities. Time with friends, physical activities, reading, music, what have you. In the classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey referred to this as “sharpening the saw”—making sure we take enough breaks to recharge, so we don’t burn out and lose effectiveness in our roles over time. We dedicated dads need reminders to do this, because while we focus on taking care of others first, we also have to spend some time taking care of ourselves.

And this gets me to the point of this post (which is intended as the first of a series on time sucks to avoid). We need to do things for ourselves and recharge. However, these things also take up our most precious resource, time. Ideally, the best activities maximize our fun, relaxation and recharging, while minimizing the amount of time taken away from the rest of our lives.

And first on my hit list of “Time Sucks to Avoid” is GOLF.

I’ll admit this right off the top. I don’t get golf. Never have and never will.

But, according to my many friends who play golf, this is only because I am unaware of:

  • The challenge of trying to play well
  • The joy of hitting a perfect shot
  • The benefits of a relaxing day out and good exercise
  • Playing a game out in a beautiful setting
  • The opportunities for camaraderie and friendly banter (potential beer-fire benefits!)
  • The focus on hitting the ball, which clears your mind of your other work and family concerns

Frankly, I just see “a good walk spoiled,” a waste of valuable real estate, an opportunity to lose money on poorly considered side-bets, and an excuse for drinking at 11am (golf can also be really expensive and cause people to wear funny pants, but I fear I’m just piling on now).

Seriously, though, it seems to me that golf gobbles up just too much time for the very real benefits it confers.

Can we get the same benefit from 90 minutes of tennis? A beer-fire? A pick-up game of basketball? A Saturday softball league? A night out with the guys? A bike ride? Most of these options represent good exercise alternatives to golf, can be just as socially rewarding, and are less expensive. And better still—they don’t gobble up 5 hours of your weekend (not to mention time at the driving range and/or lessons each week, as well as all the money for lessons and equipment).

I suppose a quick round with friends on occasional Saturdays is one thing, but multiple rounds, plus all of the extra practice time and expense seems excessive to me.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. And, of course, I could be wrong. After all, I’m a tremendous slouch, and I admittedly don’t get golf. ( … but don’t get me started on the time-suckitude of watching golf on tv!)

Care to defend golf? Have any other “time sucks” to nominate? Let’s discuss in the comments section.


Read more on Work/Life Balance on The Good Life.

Image credit: Fort Meade/Flickr

About Scott Behson

Scott Behson is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson Scott Behson is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a busy involved dad, and the author ofThe Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home, the Amazon #1 best-seller helping dads achieve better work-life balance. He runs blog, writes for Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post, and Time, and has appeared on MSNBC, Fox, NBC and NPR. Scott was a speaker at the recent White House Summit for Working Families. He lives in Nyack, NY with his wife, Amy, and son, Nick. Contact him @ScottBehson on twitter.


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Can’t stand golf. Baseball on television always puts me to sleep. Golf, being an order of magnitude more boring and more pointless offends me to the extent of keeping me awake. That’s in case some other clown gets hold of the remote and wants to watch that stuff.
    That said, people define what’s important. Golfers, for the most part, need to be socially adept to at least a minimum in order to get a round with somebody,anybody. Got to have money and a stable lifestyle or…can’t golf. Can’t afford it. Can’t arrange schedules in advance. Don’t have wilder ambitions like caving or skydiving.
    IOW, golfers are pretty normal, middle of the road folks.
    In my experience, golfers usually come from fairly reasonable, stable family structures whose kids aren’t ignored to any great extent.
    A column I read–verified with a couple of folks in the shrink business–made a different point: If you–father/husband–are not seen as inconveniencing the rest of the family for your own fun from time to time, they will eventually accord you the respect due a booger on the floor. They’re not being mean. It’s absolutely normal and inescapable. Golf is cheaper–depending on how you work it–than, say Civil War reenacting, and doesn’t take an entire weekend plus. IOW, golf is a better way of maintaining one’s position in the family than rock climbing. And if you live in, say, Iowa, you have to leave the state to do to climb real rocks–or for that matter, do spelunking, afaik– which takes time and money. But they have lots of flat spaces for golf courses.
    My wife suggested that, if golf were replaced by bowling, with all the money and time and social cachet, we’d be seeing those ugly bowling alleys all over the place, instead of beautifully maintained green places. So there’s that.
    But the primary reasons for golf are “saw-sharpening”–and inconveniencing, and if you’re lucky, annoying the family so they continue to think of you as an actual person.

    • Hi Richard- Thanks for reading and for the comment.

      I agree dads need their own time, for mental and physical health- and while I hadn’t thought of it, I agree with you on the “doormat” issue.

      I’m pro “me-time”- just in moderation.

      Also, I’m sure you see that this article was mostly tongue-in-cheek and meant as much for humor as for advice.


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