The holidays are upon us, Thanksgiving a mere speck in the rear-view mirror, a point at which even the heartiest golfers yank their clubs from the trunk and grant them a few months of R&R in the garage. Unless you live in a warm-weather climate, the season is over. Even the PGA Tour, which is loathe to pass on any weekend when it can dish out at least $5 million in prize money, has gone dark until January.

Options are slim, most of them unsavory — the perfect time to reflect on why golf is the greatest sport on earth. Whether you play four or five times a week or prefer to watch the world’s best on television, there is a civility and serenity to the game that only becomes more precious amid talk of a Major League Baseball lockout or news of another NFL player being taken into police custody.

Before the rustle of dead leaves in the backyard finally caught my attention, I came up with 25 reasons to love the little white ball and all that comes with it. So if you’ll excuse me, I have some gutters to clean….

25. Almost every big sporting event nowadays is held at night — usually starting at 8 p.m. or later on the East Coast— depriving kids with strict mothers or people with real jobs from watching them in their entirety. Golf is played by the light of day. It’s usually over by dinner, leaving the rest of the evening to fall asleep watching a four-hour ballgame with nine pitching changes.

24. At both the recreational and professional levels, golf breeds character and mutual respect. The NBA breeds crybabies who have never committed a foul in their life, who travel every time they head to the basket and flop with the same alarming regularity as a Brazilian midfielder.

23. No three-minute replay reviews.

22. Golfers need not wear jockstraps.

21. Digging a bunker shot out of a footprint to avoid a bogey at the par-3 eighth. When life deals you lemons, suck it up and save par. The lemonade will be awaiting you at the halfway house.

20. Amen Corner. The 11th, 12th and 13th at Augusta National form the most adventurous, fateful trio of holes in golf, and thus, are justifiably worthy of the holy moniker. Water plays a prominent role in the treacherous disposition of all three, which is why so many visions of victory have been laid to rest in Raes Creek. One can easily make a case that No. 13 remains the finest par-5 ever built.

Check out the rest of John Hawkins’ top 25 reasons at SportsIllustrated.com.


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