Later this week, the world’s top golfers will tee off at the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National in Georgia. Like other golf tournaments, the Masters is a stately, respectful affair. Players dress well, the fans keep their distance, and there seem to be few chances for players to get hurt. But does the game’s high-class, non-contact image mask a hidden danger?
According to a couple studies, golf is a surprisingly dangerous game. In a review of six years worth of pediatric charts, researchers found that nearly a quarter of sports-related injuries requiring attention from a neurosurgeon were related to golf. That ranked golf as the second-most-dangerous sport in their study. Another study investigating non-fatal golf-cart-related injuries found there were over 146,000 that resulted in trips to emergency rooms between 1990 and 2006. Nearly one-third of the victims were children younger than 16, and about 70 percent of the accidents occurred at sports facilities, meaning the victims were generally not people cruising their neighborhoods. And the raw number of injuries is on the rise, too—researchers found the annual number of golf-cart-related injuries increased by over 130 percent during the 17 years they studied.
Granted, 146,000 isn’t a massive number, given how many people drove golf carts during that period. But it’s probably a lot more people than one might have guessed would be seriously hurt while golfing. So while the Masters Golf Tournament may not be putting Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh’s life in peril, golf—or at least navigating the links—is a more hazardous sport than many people would give it credit for.