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The value of a team versus the value of solitude

POSTED: April 16, 2014 10:19 a.m.

What sport do you think contains the ultimate athlete? If we were to take every sport in the world of athletics and search them over for the absolute best athletes, where would we find them?

Not only am I about to save you hours upon hours of research, but I am going to instantly controvert my own point, thereby possibly once again encouraging you to spend hours trying to prove me right/wrong.

You ready? I’ll give you until the end of my head.


Yes, golf contains the ultimate athlete, but not for the reasons you think.

The reason I say golf contains the ultimate athlete is because there is no safety net in golf. To be a star professional golfer, you almost have to be the best at every aspect of the game, and don’t reference Happy Gilmore as proof to the contrary. Even he had to learn how to putt, not to mention the fact that he isn’t real.

There are so many nuanced elements of golf that experts must know and understand in order to succeed, and there’s no such thing as "subbing in" on the golf course.

If there were, you might could create a team with the world’s best driver, the world’s best approach player, the world’s best bunker shooter and the world’s best putter.

You know what that would get you? Probably not much in the way of strokes on the pro tour, because on any given day, an aspiring great golfer must be all of those things.

That is why I say that golf contains the ultimate athlete. A golfer is, for the most part, by himself.

Sure, you could argue that any individual sport is the same, and you could argue that golfers have caddies to help them, but a caddie is basically a coach, and most every athlete has a coach or a trainer.

As for your other point (which I gave you, you’re welcome), I can’t think of any other individual sport that requires as much unique specialization as golf’s diverse elements, so I win. Thanks for playing.

So what, though? So what if golfers have to be the ultimate athlete and need expertise in every element of the game if they hope to excel.

Which is better: to be an ultimate athlete or to have the support of a team?

Sure, a team could drag you down. The greatest football player in the world is nothing without a solid team to back him up.

Michael Jordan didn’t win championships by himself, although he was quite the asset to keep around.

But a team is also there when you stumble. When your skill alone isn’t enough to reach the goal, a team is there to push you along. If you make a costly mistake, a good team can pick you up and help you brush it off.

Humans are nothing without teamwork. We’re just alone.

Take for example something very near and dear to my heart: X-Men movies.

X-Men movies are pretty good, in most cases. The weakest entries, though, are probably Wolverine’s solo movies. Even though he is far and away the most popular character, his solo movies are pretty lame half the time.

On the other hand, when you put Hugh Jackman alongside Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan, an honorary member of Georgia’s gubernatorial guard, you tend to get cinematic gold. Why is that? The team.

If you only take two things away from this column, let it be the following. First, never let yourself think that you are above utilizing anyone’s help. You’re not. We all need help sometime.

Second, go see "X-Men: Day’s of Future Past." It looks awesome.



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