One of my friends recently pointed out a big difference between men and women—guilt. We women tend to feel guilty when our activities interfere with the activities of others. Take work, for example. My friend pointed out that when a man needs to leave a meeting early, he’ll simply push himself away from the table, stand up, and say he’s leaving. Done. End of story – no mention of where or why he’s leaving. But when a woman needs to leave, her exit is often preceded by, “I’m so sorry… I need to pick up my daughter at daycare.” Or… “I need to do X, Y, or Z…” You get the idea.

For some reason, we sometimes feel guilty about doing legitimate things that we have no business feeling guilty about. Similarly, we also sometimes feel bad about simply taking time for ourselves—whether it be to hit a bucket of balls, take a lesson, play 9, or do any other activity that simply… makes us happy.

Maybe this hits home for you if you have small children and a full-time gig, or part-time gig, or no outside gig, but people who rely on you. Let’s be honest, regardless of our personal situations, most of us have a to-do list a mile long; there’s always something we could be doing. Therefore, it’s normal to feel like you have no business spending free time golfing. Free time should be spent being productive, right?

Well, I’m here to help erase those feelings of guilt. Taking time to hit the golf course is not only not bad… it’s also a very good thing for your own wellbeing, and for the message, it sends to others.

Golf gives you a special opportunity to establish solid friendships.

By setting a regular golf date with your friends, you build in a regular check-in/support meeting. Here you share the good and bad moments of your life and feel less alone when your pals share theirs. It’s almost like a weekly therapy appointment—only better because it’s outside with a drink cart following you. Even during the off-season, you can meet with your pals (virtually or IRL) to catch up. Bonus – you’re showing your kids the importance of maintaining and nurturing strong friendships no matter what

A weekly tee-time helps you plan your week and manage your time.

While it might seem like adding a weekly golf date would be just one more thing to add to your schedule, it actually helps you become more efficient. In fact, having a standing weekly golf date helps with efficiency all week, as it provides a “non-negotiable” timeline for tackling your to-do list. You have to plan your days well in order to protect your tee time.

Feeling guilty about time away from your kids? Remind yourself that showing your kids commitment to activities sets a great example.

Try reframing the big picture of your entire family’s schedule. Your kids have their soccer, baseball, gymnastics, skating, and own golf nights, I’m sure. One of the seven nights in a week can be for you, Mom. This isn’t asking a lot. It’s good for your spirit to do something you love. The fun you have on the course lifts you up, and those good feelings follow you to your real life, making you more pleasant to be around, and happier in general. And, by committing to your game, you’re showing kids the importance of finding healthy lifetime activities and good playing partners/friends.

Commitment to the game leads to continual improvement, a definite self-esteem booster.

I love it when something that’s difficult at first starts to click, and gets easier with time. Let’s face it, it takes time to play golf and become a good golfer… meaning, if you don’t put time into it, you can only go so far. So really, we have no business feeling guilty about golfing, because we’re investing in ourselves as golfers. If we enjoy the sport, it’s “our duty” to give it some love. PLUS… what better way to show others your dedication and persistence in action? You demonstrate you’ve got passion and drive, a trait that looks impressive to prospective employers, clients, and friends!

Finally, golf is harmless!

If you’re going to take 2-3 hours a week to do something, why not golf? You’re not hurting anyone, and your body is also not getting beat up as a result. In fact, let’s not forget that golf is great exercise, and a chance to breathe in fresh air while you hone your craft and spend time with friends.

The benefits of playing golf are numerous. Besides being a chance to renew oneself and participate in a fun sport for all ages (both of which help with our mental and emotional health), it’s great exercise. It’s also an excellent chance to socialize (for business and pleasure), and it gives us women “something of our own” to pursue for a lifetime. Plus, by choosing a lifetime sport like golf, we become great examples of dedication, persistence, and the pursuit of excellence to our children and everyone we come in contact with.

Next time you have the chance to play golf but start feeling guilty… stop! It’s really okay! Go ahead and play the game. Let’s unite in guilt-free golf!