When is enough is enough?  When or why does a player choose to quit golf?  What causes that turn when a golfer says, no more?

The golf clubs are stashed away in the garage or sold on a social media marketplace, possibly moments after the bag and all of its contents were thrown aggressively into the back of the car. Or perhaps in a classic dramatic style, tossed a’la Bobby Knight across the green.

Negative emotions have hit a peak.  Something has made them leave the game behind.

The Story of AK

Anthony Kim is the name that pops out if you look for a pro that quit golf.  He didn’t just quit the tour, or quit playing charity events.  Reports are that he put the clubs away and has not and will not play again.  In 2007, Anthony Kim was a young phenom with two PGA wins, had landed seventh on the money board, and was instrumental in the 2008 Ryder Cup victory for the US. Famously familiar with his audacious belt buckle and initials “AK” worn during play, he had a huge gallery of support. Yet, in 2012, after repeated physical injury and physical therapy attempts, (Achilles tear, back strain, and other limiting injuries) he walked away completely.

Rumor speaks of a lucrative disability insurance payment he receives by not participating in the sport that made him rich and famous.  Information scattered across the internet shows the numbers that more money goes in his pocket through this than he could ever recoup in professional play.

Did he walk away forever for money?  The policy would be void if he is seen even recreationally golfing. Yet, there is a lot more to Kim’s personal life story. Maybe he truly lost his passion.  PGA player and the always outspoken Pat Perez, discussing his friendship with Kim in explicit language during Perez guest appearance on the Jim Rome podcast recalled a conversation with AK.

“One of the most talented players… walked away…I said to him, you have to miss it. “ Kim replied, “I don’t miss it at all.”

Perez went on for minutes talking about that convo with AK but it all boiled down to one simple truth according to him, “You can’t get somebody to love the game, so it doesn’t matter how good they are, if they don’t love it, then they don’t love it.”  (Hear the interview here.)

What motivates the everyday golfer to quit?

Perhaps they simply suck at the game (Hack+), and they feel that sucking, well, sucks.  The emotional self-stigma of inadequacy ends by stashing the clubs away permanently. They still flounder with jeers of being called a quitter, or the hassles of bowing out of a proposed business meeting on the course, but in the end, banishing the feeling of not being able to achieve a level of competency is greater than anything possibly accomplished on the course.

They are as good at the game as they will ever be, but not good enough.

Lost the Luster Due to Inadequacy?

This can be potential for players that fall at the top of the game (Sticks), who begin to lose their swing or who scores begin to suffer. They determine to quit before the memory of a good walk literally is spoiled.  Call it pride or ego, but they now feel inadequate in their loss of skills and consider themselves finished.   Or like Anthony Kim, some golfers are forced out of their game by increased physical limitations.

This is not typically a moment of negative emotions causing surrender, but quite the opposite.  The negative emotion here is tied to the forced reality of the physical inability to play.  The emotion felt might be loss and grief.  Notably, golf has made strides in addressing physical limitations and accessibility to the game.

The Selfishness of Golf

Guilt is sometimes the nagging emotional force that causes departure. “This is too selfish.”  Money can play a factor in a different manner. “I should spend this money on something else.” Or investment guilt. ” I don’t have the time to be doing this today.”

Head-talk in a guilt-voice can yammer on and on, giving reasons to take golf out of your lifestyle. Guilt also can be an acquired emotion stemming from comments by family or friends as they pound you with a negative reaction to what your golf outing might be doing to them. So now you are taking on someone else’s feelings and feeling guilty for your own sense of pleasure.  It is certainly a sticky wicket to remain considerate and responsible for others while maintaining a balance of self-satisfaction.

The Guilt Creeps In

Step aboard the guilt vehicle.  And if you ride it too far, you might quit. How does golf keep this relationship of player and game alive?

It is stated that no one can “make” you do anything you don’t want to do.  Thankfully there is a flip side to that statement.  Some things can “help” you decide not to do something. The importance of the golfing community fostering the positives of golf and reducing the negative influences is a challenge being faced.

Here is the player who wants to enjoy the game but only has 3 hours, while the slow play ahead makes that time limit prohibitive.  Over there is the player who has ultimate information confusion.  They have scoured countless articles aimed at improving swing, what club to buy, what grip adjustments to make, what ball soars the best…the overload has produced a robotic scrutinization and now what is missing is the flow. Love is absent.

Emotionally Torn Between the Heartbreak and the Ecstasy

So here we stand.  Lovers crossed.  An emotional relationship in peril.  Do I love or hate?  Do I stay or do I go?  Do I throw all of this history, investment, and experience in the tank or embrace it?

If the pain is more than the pleasure, I understand.  But you, my dear friend, will have funny stories to tell nevertheless.  You will have shared moments of glory or pain that enter the conversation at the party. Know that you have gained a unique perspective just by playing golf one time or 10,000.

You are part of a community that gathers here to harken back, or relive a memory of a great day or horrible day because that is what this community brings. The pleasure and pain that you carry thanks to golf is now a part of your DNA and you can’t change it.

Golf is a relationship that lasts forever…even if you quit.