Mark Twain and others have said something like "Golf is a fine walk ruined."   Is golf a sport or a game and are golfers athletes?  My argument against golf being a sport starts with equipment.  I can think of no other activity that is more dependant on the quality of equipment than golf.  Growing up we played baseball on a vacant lot with balls that were taped together and bats that were broken.  We got them from the local semipro team and we "repaired" them with "borrowed" wood screws and friction tape.  The best catch I ever saw was not on a professional team.  A guy I only remember as "Sam" jumped against a wall and speared a ball headed for a window.  He had to avoid a jagged peace of tin without injury by spreading his legs as he jumped.  We played football in helmets to which we affixed face masks.

The original clubs and balls were crude objects and quickly golf took the sharp turn from athleticism to an equipment dependent game.  Today clubs have shafts made of light weight space age metals.  Driver heads have gone from wood objects the size of my fist that now consist of lightweight metals in  shapes almost the size of a golfers head.  Numerous manufacturers compete for sales by constantly inventing clubs and balls that travel further and further.  Golf courses have to be lengthened to contain the golfers who are armed with the modern equipment.  Equipment and rules are fine tuned in our sports butin golf it is the equipment that creates the rules.

Modern golf courses are so finely created and maintained that fairways and greens are uniformly smooth.

There is no "defense" in modern golf.

Modern golf has few challenging roughs.

Bunkers are carefully maintained sand traps that modern pro golfers find easy.  The only exceptions are the few traps designed by English standards.  Certainly nothing exists like this stone bunker.

Distractions and noise are not allowed in golf as they are in real sports.  Could you imagine golfers playing in front of a Duke basketball game or a Cleveland Brown's football game?  Right, golfers go nuts if they hear a camera  click.    Even injuries that occur in golf do not prove golf is a sport.  It could be that golf injuries are a result of poor physical conditioning. 

To be a sport, an activity should contain at least one of these things: 1) Strenuous physical exertion  2)  crowd noise  3)  defense    4) lack of technology and equipment domination.  Golf is thus only a game, not a sport.