Are Republicans and Democrats as split on the golf course?
It seems to me that if the Republicans come up with a good idea, the Democrats will immeditely respond with negative critisism. The same is true for the Republicans when the Democrats come up with something special. But what about the average golfer who is either a Republican or a Democrate? Is their thinking and behavior on the course different from one another? Sam Weinman of Golf Digest brings us an interesting study on the subject done by Chadly Stern, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. An interesting read!
We like to think of the golf course as a safe haven from political bickering. Sure, you might touch on the economy during a wait on the tee box, but golf itself is politically agnostic. Your weekend foursome could include people with completely different ideologies than your own and it should have no bearing on how you enjoy the game together.
Sounds great. But is that really true?
To understand how one’s political views might shape them as golfers, we conducted a survey of more than 1,000 regular players asking about a variety of topics relevant in the game — whether they walk or ride, whether they play golf for money, that sort of thing. We only asked one directly political question — whether the respondent was a Democrat or a Republican — but from that, were able to see contrasts in how members of the opposing parties answered the other questions.
In fact, what the survey underscored is how often one’s political leanings can be manifested in a golf setting (we’re not talking about whether you’re chronic miss is to the left or the right). And when you map the survey answers against generally acknowledged differences between the two parties, the results start to follow a trend.
“It’s a super interesting set of findings,” said Chadly Stern, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has studied and written about how one’s political ideology shapes the way they see the world. “It’s very consistent with what we know about the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives, or Democrats and Republicans.”
We should start with an important reminder — that this was a survey of mostly avid golfers, a relatively homogenous group compared to, say, people who like music. And on some topics golfers were aligned regardless of how they voted. But most interesting is where the two parties diverge. For instance, Professor Stern was intrigued by Republicans being more inclined to follow the Rules of Golf to the letter. In his eyes, it was reflective of a conservative inclination toward structure. Taking it a step further, he could even explain why people who follow golf rules more closely would also be drawn to the candidacy of Donald Trump.
“Among conservatives there’s a tendency to gravitate toward norms and rules, because rules present structure,” Stern said. “One of the things that people have been talking about is that Trump says America is in chaos and there’s a lot of violence and instability and he’s going to make America great and safe again through the enforcement of rules.”
A conservative partiality toward following rules and norms also explains other contrasts. Democrats had less of a problem with golfers smoking marijuana on the golf course, and while mostly opposed to golfers wearing jeans on the golf course, they were more open than their counterparts across the aisle. The gap was even wider on whether denim should be permissible in a golf clubhouse.