Zack Kirby, Chattanooga, Tenn. —

Throughout my childhood, my dad was one of those people who stressed sports in my life. There were some that I liked, some I disliked, and others that were just okay.

In the third grade, my dad introduced me to golf. Growing up, I would tag along with my dad on Sunday mornings before church and watched him drive the ball for what looked like miles to me. I took lessons as a kid, and even got a starter set. The problem, however, was that as an eight or nine-year-old, I didn’t have a lot of patience in my life.

After a long break, I picked up the game again in the eighth grade and played for my school, upon my dad’s request. Through many hard trials and embarrassment, I wanted to quit and never play again. Because my parents “didn’t raise a quitter,” I reluctantly stuck out the year and finished playing.

Today, I love golf and I consider it my favorite sport to play. I played it on and off for fun with my dad in high school, but only recently during my senior of college, have I played consistently.

I developed a new passion for it and consider it a huge stress reliever, as well as a fun hobby. Thanks to my dad, I have grown to show love for the game that I almost quit in middle school.

As a senior in college dealing with the stresses of work and overall life in general, it can be tough to find free time. It is tough for me to find and commit to particular hobbies, simply because I get caught up in work, don’t have the time, or am just too plain lazy to go out do something active.

With golf, however, I find it to be a great stress reliever, simply because it is just you versus the course, and nothing else from the outside world enters my mind for that period of time.

I will be honest and say that I’m not great, or even above average at the sport, but the joy it gives me is like nothing else, especially when I’m with friends. Also, the health benefits for golf are great, especially if you walk a course. It is the sport you can play until the day you die, as well as the sport you can always improve on.

We live in a very stressful world as college students, and there are times that it can feel overwhelming. But something about being in an open field with the calming trees surrounding me during a round helps me keep my mind off of those stresses, which can make the sport very therapeutic.

The health benefits of golf are that it improves muscle tone and endurance, helps you stay fit, and is a great way to lose weight or body fat. According to the American Society of Golf Course Architects website, a player can burn up to 721 calories by walking nine holes with a bag, and 1,442 by playing 18 holes. If a person burns 2,500 calories per week, he or she already greatly reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. As a result, playing more rounds is better for one’s overall health.

My advice is that if you are interested in golf, then find some buddies, a cheap course and “grip it and rip it,” because the doctors said so.