Whenever I bring the subject of Golf vs. Tennis up to people – which, they will say, is way too often – they usually say golf, and they usually give one of three reasons:
1. In golf, you have to beat everybody. In tennis, you only have to beat the player who pops up on the bracket. “In golf you have to beat a field of 150 players,” says Fox Sports’ Robert Lusetich, “in tennis, you only have to beat eight.”
2. In tennis, you have a lot more control over your game … and you have a direct effect on your opponent. Or as Jim Litke, national columnist for the Associated Press, said: “you can’t play defense in golf.”
3. Golf has deeper fields than tennis – more great players makes for a tougher challenge. “In tennis, my understanding, there are really only three or four players who have a chance to win,” Sports Illustrated’s John Garrity says, “there is more depth in golf, more players capable of winning.”
All of these are excellent points – there’s no question that winning a golf major championship is spectacularly hard to do, but I think winning a tennis grand slam is just slightly harder. I think we’ve been awed the last few years by three of the greatest players in the history of men’s tennis and that has tilted the judgment. This week’s Wimbledon – with the shocking upsets of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (not to mention Maria Sharapova) – is a good reminder of just how hard it is to win a tennis grand slam event.