Golf and depression: The game has answers

CLICKON caught up with the Wombats frontman, Matthew Murphy, and discussed the notable appeal of golf to the struggling mind.

“It’s obviously an escape, in the same way that music can be,” says Matthew Murphy, vocalist and lead guitarist for The Wombats, about his passion for the game of golf.

But what is the value of this “escape?” Now, Murph is on record about his struggles with anxiety and depression since adolescence. Indeed, The Wombats’ song, “Anti-D” concerns the black dog of depression.

I’m not about to discuss another man’s depression or present the game of golf as some panacea for a legitimate neurochemical disorder. However, I’ll offer a few thoughts from a fellow passenger on the SSRI Express.

When you’re being crushed by the weight of depression, and your blood feels like lead in your veins, the idea of heading to the gym for a jaunt on the treadmill is beyond unappealing. Bed or couch instead, please. However, from the physical activity standpoint, it’s worth remembering, walking 18 holes of golf is equivalent to walking four or five miles.

Murph on the course.

And all you have to do is make it to the first tee and you’re off. Hit the ball. Go find it. Hit the ball. Go find it. Fresh air, hopefully sunshine and good company, scenic vistas all of this awaits. And of course, this isn’t to talk about the impossibility of dark rumination on the golf course: you’ll have too much to think about regarding your next shot and how your swing is holding up. In other words, you rapidly enter a very different headspace when your feet find the fairway.

The four-to-five hours a round takes, represents a long enough amount of time for a significant mood adjustment. And while it’s foolish to suggest golf can ultimately “cure” depression, it may offer a unique form of therapy, blending the “get out and exercise” and “go for a walk in nature” lines of thinking in behavioral rehabilitation.

If you happen to season your unique variety of depression and anxiety with any obsessive tendencies, golf and the golf swing are worthy replacements for thoughts phobic and horrific.

Do you think it’s any coincidence that golf’s greatest practicer and obsessive workhorse, Ben Hogan, had a family history of depression and watched his father commit suicide in front of him when he was a child?

So if you’re suffering, by all means see your family doctor. See your therapist. See your psychiatrist. But perhaps also see the green expanses of your local 18-hole track.