June 25, 2007

Golfers of the world speak out

Global survey shows what players think

If a survey is ever taken to determine the best survey ever taken, this one will at least be the leader in the clubhouse for a while. Why? Because it was so strenuously global. About the only thing it doesn't ask of a golfer is, "Since you're known to be a choking dog, what kind of cough drops do you generally carry in your bag?"

Let it be noted that this 50th-anniversary Golf Digest survey was so extensive, it asked questions of more than 11,000 golfers from 19 different countries on both a front nine and back nine of continents. In short, a questionnaire was randomly inserted into issues of Golf Digest and 18 of the magazine's international affiliates, such as Argentina, Australia, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

Now, of course, you can make a survey prove anything you wish by the way you ask the questions. For example, if you want to prove that nobody cheats on a golf course, you simply ask, "Do you cheat on a golf course?" The result will be a self-serving 98 percent no. And the 2 percent who answer yes will represent those in the survey who actually do not cheat and have an exceedingly good sense of humor.

But the results of this survey by and large reflect honest answers to all of the questions. Proof enough was the response to this question: If you saw your boss improve a lie in the rough, would you call him or her on it?

Americans said no, 57 percent to 43 percent. Americans know what they're doing. Rat out your boss, there goes the corner office or the pay raise or both. Americans are way ahead of the curve on this.

Last on this question was Argentina. The Argentines, not too surprisingly, answered they would rat out the boss by an overwhelming 96 percent to 4 percent. After all, a lot of Gestapo agents escaped to Argentina.

It comes as no surprise that Jack Nicklaus was named the greatest golfer of all time by the survey participants in every country. However, it's interesting how the countries differed on who was second.

Arnold Palmer was fancied by Mexico, Russia and Thailand. Meanwhile, Ben Hogan was fancied by the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Canada.

Make of all that what you will. What I make of it is that the people in the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Canada are more intelligent.

The question of which tour pro would you most like to play a round of golf with brought the most predictable answer of all. Participants in 10 out of 19 countries named Tiger Woods. But the question also produced the most curious result from the U.S. participants Fred Couples! Freddie narrowly nosed out Palmer, Woods and Nicklaus, in that order. How? I don't know. Ask some Nobel guy.

The least surprising result of all was produced by this question: If you could pick only one golf course to play for the rest of your life, which would you pick?

Almost everybody went for Augusta National and Pebble Beach, in that order, obviously because they've appeared on TV more often than Elian Gonzalez. The U.S., however, put Pebble just ahead of Augusta, and the only other courses Americans named were Pinehurst, TPC at Sawgrass, St. Andrews, Valderrama, Royal Melbourne, Portmarnock and Turnberry.

No Goat Hills. Not a single vote.

I'm compelled to take issue with one group on the particular question: How does a bad round of golf affect you? Participants could check one of three boxes: (a) Not at all, (b) I will be irritated for 5 minutes, and (c) I will be in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

A stunning 56 percent of Koreans—a far higher percentage than any other country—admitted that a bad round puts them in a bad mood for the rest of the day. This is honesty.

So I think the Americans lied here with their paltry 12 percent. I mean, in my group alone...


THE SURVEY RESULTS:

My country can beat your country

How many strokes do you take in an average 18-hole round?

Worldwide: 90.3 strokes.

U.S.: 89.1 strokes. (The greatest precentage of U.S. respondents— 28 % — said they average 82-87 strokes per round. Only 1% said they average 72 strokes or less, and 16% said they average 98 strokes or more.) Best golfers: the United Kingdom (86.9 strokes); Argentina (87.0); Australia (87.1). Worst: Russia (98.6); Germany (94.9); the Netherlands (94.6). Note: In Russia, almost half of the golfers responding say they average 103 strokes or more.

Golf skill versus intelligence

Would you rather be very intelligent and a very bad golfer or not very intelligent and a very good golfer?

Worldwide: 71% pick intelligence.

U.S.: 81 % pick intelligence. Most likely to pick intelligence: Spain (92%), Germany (86). Most likely to pick golf skill: Japan (77%), Thailand (52).

For richer or poorer

Would you rather be a bad golfer but rich, or a good golfer but poor?

Worldwide: 61% would rather be a bad golfer but rich.

U.S.: 71% would rather be a bad golfer but rich.

Note: Four of 19 countries pick golf skill over wealth: Taiwan (83%), Korea (74), India (59), Argentina (55).

Drive for show...

Would you rather hole a 50-foot putt or hit a 300-yard drive?

Worldwide: 63% pick the putt.

U.S.: 64% pick the putt. Most likely to pick the 50-foot putt: Mexico (75%), India (74). Most likely to pick the 300-yard drive: Australia (46%); Portugal (45); Russia, United Kingdom (43).

Work ethic

How many hours do you practice per month?

Worldwide: 5.8 hours.

U.S.: Average of 5.1 hours per month (3% never practice, 16% practice less than an hour, 46% practice 1-5 hours, 18 % practice 6-10 hours, and 17% practice more than 10 hours). Most likely to practice: Korea (11.2 hours), Taiwan (8.1), Thailand (8.0). Least likely to practice: India, South Africa (3.9); Australia (4.0).

'I'll press'

When you play golf with friends, do you usually play for money?

Worldwide: 40% yes.

U.S.: 42% yes. Most likely to play for money: Korea (78%), South Africa (70). Least likely: Italy (6%), the Netherlands (7).

Primary method of getting around the course

__Worldwide:__78% walk (42% use a pullcart, 19% carry their clubs and 17% use a caddie); 22% use a cart.

U.S.: 51% walk (25% carry clubs, 25% use a pullcart and 1% use caddies); 49% ride. The breakdown worldwide: Most likely to walk with a pullcart: Australia (89%); the Netherlands (87); Portugal, Spain (86). Most likely to ride in a cart: Singapore, U.S. (49%). Most likely to walk carrying clubs: Italy (82%), Canada (49). Most likely to walk with a caddie: India, Thailand (94%).

Mood swings

How does a bad round affect you?

Worldwide: 64% are irritated for five minutes, 21% are not irritated at all, 15% are in a bad mood for the rest of the day. U.S.: 70% irritated for five minutes, 18% not at all, 12% in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Most likely to be in a bad mood the rest of the day: Korea (56%). Most likely to be "not at all" affected: Portugal (44%).

Temper, temper

Have you ever broken a club in anger?

Worldwide: 88% no.

U.S.: 82% no. __Most likely to have broken a club:__Australia, Canada, South Africa, Thailand, U.S. (18%). __Least likely:__the Netherlands (2%), Taiwan (3), Japan (4).

Women and the grillroom

Does the course you usually play allow women access to the bar/grillroom?

__Worldwide:__89% yes.

__U.S.:__88% yes. Most likely to allow access: Netherlands (100%), Portugal (98), Canada (97). Least likely: Korea (10% allow access), Thailand (57), Mexico (77).

Restrictions on tee times

Does the course you usually play have restrictions on when women can play?

__Worldwide:__11% restrict.

U.S.: 8% restrict. __Least likely to restrict:__Netherlands, Italy (1% restrict). __Most likely:__Australia (38% restrict), United Kingdom (30), South Africa (29).

Does the course you usually play have restrictions on when juniors can play?

Worldwide: 14% restrict.

U.S.: 11% restrict. __Least likely to restrict:__Italy (1%); Germany, Netherlands (2%). Most likely: Korea (72%), South Africa (41), Canada (32), United Kingdom (31).

Cheating

Would you call your boss on improving his or her lie in the rough?

Worldwide: 62% yes.

__U.S.:__43% yes. Most likely to call the boss on it: Argentina (96%), Italy (87), Portugal (84). __Least likely:__Canada, Taiwan (39%); U.S. (43); Singapore (54).

The greatest players

Who is the greatest golfer of all time?

Worldwide: Jack Nicklaus (62%); Ben Hogan (12); Arnold Palmer (9); Bobby Jones (6); Seve Ballesteros (5); Gary Player (3); Sam Snead (2).

__U.S.:__Jack Nicklaus (63 %); Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer (13).

Note: Nicklaus led in all 19 countries.

Dream wins

Which would you rather win?

Worldwide: Masters (35%), British Open (21), U.S. Open (17), Nobel Peace Prize (16), Olympic gold medal (7), PGA Championship (4).

U.S.: Masters (40%); U.S. Open (31); Nobel Peace Prize (16); British Open, Olympic gold medal (5); PGA Championship (3).

Note: Golfers in Portugal rate winning the Nobel Peace Prize No. 1 (37%); golfers in the UK pick the British Open (65%).

Dream course

If you could pick only one golf course to play for the rest of your life, which would you pick?

Worldwide: Augusta National (31%), Pebble Beach (20), Valderrama (9), Old Course, St. Andrews (8), Pinehurst No. 2 (7), Royal Melbourne (5), TPC at Sawgrass (3).

U.S.: Pebble Beach (36%); Augusta National (33); Pinehurst No. 2 (16); TPC at Sawgrass (7); Old Course, St. Andrews (4); Portmarnock, Royal Melbourne, Turnberry, Valderrama (1).

One-on-one instruction

How many lessons do you take in a year?

Worldwide: 2.6 lessons.

U.S.: 1.4. lessons. Most: Italy (6.7 lessons), Argentina (5.8), Spain (5.5). __Fewest:__Japan, U.S. (1.4 lessons); Australia, South Africa (1.5); Singapore (1.6).

If you could play with anyone...

Which professional would you most like to play a round of golf with? (Worldwide results are in descending order.)

The top 10:

Tiger Woods (No. 1 in Canada, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand), Fred Couples (No. 1 in the U.S. and Korea), Jack Nicklaus (tied for first in Russia), Greg Norman (No. 1 in Australia and tied for first in Russia), Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Ernie Els, Seve Ballesteros (No. 1 in Spain and Argentina), David Duval (tied for first in Russia), (Worldwide results are in descending order.)ie (first in the U.K.), Phil Mickelson, Annika Sorenstam, Tom Watson, Davis Love III, Gary Player, Nick Price (No. 1 in South Africa), Nick Faldo (tied for first in Russia), Jose Maria Olazabal, Bernhard Langer (No. 1 in Germany).


Note:

This survey was prepared by The New York Times Company Magazine Group Research Resource Center. Click here for complete results on every question and every country (568K PDF).