Nature’s favorite casual sport? Golf.

I know a lot of people who enjoy spending time hiking out on the trails or leisurely paddling down the nearest Indiana river, who are looking to switch up their outdoor routine to something a little bit more interesting. I myself look forward to weekends out at Turkey Run or the Indiana Dunes, but sometimes find myself looking for a change of pace.

At the same time, I’m not hardcore enough (or skilled enough) to take my mostly casually-spent outdoors time to the next level in the form of rock climbing or white-water rafting. I’m athletic, and I’ve played sports all my life, but I save that all-or-nothing mentality (and the heavy breathing and sweat) for the gym.

However, there is one sport in particular that allows my outdoor friend group to experience that fresh air we crave, alongside roaming across hills of grass and sand, and snaking around water and trees.

That sport? Golf.

It might be hard to believe, but golf might just be the next best relaxing thing that an outdoorsman (or woman) can do when s/he is looking forward to a peaceful afternoon outside, but needs a break from the nearby trails.

Golf courses host some of the most diverse landscapes of any sport. Some of the most beautiful courses in Indiana feature pristinely green grass, surrounded by gatherings of tall trees and skirted by large lakes where fish loom and geese come to cool off. The ability to step onto the fairway, with nothing between you and the hole but a whole lot of greenery, is the kind of peacefulness that is unique to the ancient game.

Besides the natural feel, golf is a sport that might require the same amount of walking (if not more) than your average casual hike. It’s true: renting a golf cart and zig-zagging across the fairway with the wind blowing through your hair is enough fun to make you feel like a kid again, but opting to walk the entire 18 hole course is enough exercise for maybe two days worth of hiking (depending on your usual pace and distance, of course).

What’s more, golf is a game that teaches and hones patience and athletic skill. To hit a ball that small with a club that narrow is difficult enough, but to put that little white sphere in that small cylindrical cup takes practice. But the best part is that the ability to do so is an accomplishable task, which is why people of all ages play the sport, from kids in grade school to retired folks in their sixties and seventies.

If you don’t know your nearest 18 hole gold course or country club, I highly recommend you do some research. Go on, get out there under the blue skies with the wind at your back, and learn something new in the great outdoors. Before you know it, you’ll even have the patience to watch golf on TV and appreciate the sport you never knew you could love. Just don’t forget to get off that couch and practice your swing.

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