With increasing frequency road cycling is getting referred to as “the new golf” in different media outlets. To some extend it is true. Cycling appeals to that same middle-aged well-off demographic as golf has become more accessible. Also cycling is gaining popularity fast just like golf did in the 90s. Part of me cringes at the thought of being part of a fad or a victic of a clever marketing ploy. On the other hand who cares. Cycling is healthy and a great way to spend excess free time. I think I should be qualified to comment on the subject. I spent better part of my teenage years as a club house rat. Even though I never reached a scratch handicap I did spend endless hours on the range and on the putting green. In my twenties I realized golf was taking too much of my time and energy. I put playing on hold and to my wife’s satisfaction a round of golf hasn’t sneaked back into the weekly schedule. I might go back to it later on, but I would definitely have to give up cycling for it. The fact is both hobbies take awfully lot of time to do right.
As far as the claim goes I think there are definite parallels. One of the most crucial ones is the possibility to easily improve your performance with new gear. You can’t become a fast 100 meter sprinter by buying new shoes, but you can drop your handicap with a new driver or make you ride faster with new pair of carbon wheels. On the other hand it is real easy to brake your extra light-weight carbon fiber shaft or wheelset so you have to be able to afford the luxury. There is a real economical barrier to entry limiting the number of purveyors of the sport so you can gain some success pretty easily. Having said all that in both sports you can only become competitive with endless hours of practice and sacrifice. Sure, both sports are wonderful social activities if you are happy with staying at the club golfer or weekend warrior cyclist level. For me golf was mostly a mental game. It was always a challenge for me to keep emotions at bay when I had played 16 holes well. With cycling more of the mental side comes down to enduring pain. On competitive level in both sports strategy is important. You need to be able to judge when to play it safe and when to attack. In both sports if you fail early there are no second chances.
Both golf and cycling have their avid haters. Golf is still considered to be for old rich fatsos and cyclists are generally a fit bunch. For a lay man it may seem both sports are full of pretentious pricks. What I have found out is that individuals are quite alright when you meet them face to face and talk their language. Cycling seems to annoy those for whom sharing the road is difficult, but I think that is just their cover story. In the end the biggest problems stem from people’s own insecurities regarding their wealth or fitness.
So in conclusion it seems golf and cycling do have lot of things in common. I’m no golf hater and I’m a frequent visitor to Master, SHG Lakisto and Tali golf courses. For now I will just enjoy the vistas as I pass in break neck speeds and hope that I don’t get hit by an errant car or a ball. I guess everybody would win if triathlon could take over as the new golf though.