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The fair way to judge golf: as a model for life

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Even worse, opponents are too often regarded as obstacles to be beaten down or reduced to mere barriers – something that stands between a team and a win – and not respected as fellow competitors who test our skills by providing a challenge.

And then there is golf.

Golfers follow a strict honor code that places the burden of following the rules on the player. Players are expected to call penalties on themselves. Golfers also have duties that require them to show courtesy to their opponents and act in ways that best allow their opponents to maximize their own opportunities to play well.

Golfers stand still when opponents are playing shots and must learn to show respect and courtesy to competitors. There is no trash talking in golf (with perhaps the exception of teasing among friends in recreational play).

While there have been cases of gamesmanship even at elite levels of competition, they stand out because of their rarity and relative mildness when compared with those that occur in other sports.

While other sports also prohibit competitors, even at the highest levels of competition, from cheating and attempt to require them to show courtesy and respect to opponents, golf achieves it.

Thus, it is hardly a coincidence that golf organizations donate more to charity than any other sports associations.

The PGA Tour alone donated more than $124 million to charity in 2008. The PGA Tour, the satellite Nationwide Tour, and the senior Champions Tour have donated an all-time total of more than $1 billion in charitable donations. Add the additional millions donated by the LPGA and donations from local and regional amateur tournaments in which golfers all over the country participate, and the impact of golf on charity is impressive.

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