Q. Why can’t I play golf on Shabbat?
A. There are general as well as specific issues to be considered. The main general issue raises the nature of Shabbat. Fundamentally it is a day for spiritual and cultural concerns. Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler was asked whether children may swim on Shabbat and he asked, “Did they daven first?”
When rabbinic authorities addressed the question of sport on Shabbat many were sympathetic, but warned against incidental breaches of the Sabbath laws such as travelling or carrying, though the carrying issue is eased if there is an eruv (a symbolic boundary which encloses an area and allows carrying within it).
Breaches of the law which might be involved in playing golf include muktzeh (handling things that have a “weekday” character), and the prohibition of reaping (in this case, cutting grass) and ploughing (digging up soil). The consensus of rabbinic opinion is disapproving of golf on Shabbat.