LONDON (AFP) - Golf has emerged as Britain's dullest sport in a survey, confirming the historic phrase wrongly attributed to Mark Twain that it is "a good walk spoiled".
The YouGov poll - published in Thursday's (Jan 11) edition of The Times - found 70 per cent of the 1,616 adults asked for their opinion adjudged golf to be the dullest - while only 11 per cent considered it to be exciting.
Despite attracting sell-out crowds at Wembley for National Football League (NFL) games, American football is considered the second dullest (59 per cent) while after the 4-0 Ashes drubbing by Australia, there is more bad news for English cricket as it is just behind in third with 58 per cent.
English golfer Matthew Southgate - who finished joint sixth in the British Open last year - concurred with the findings and was not surprised athletics topped the poll in terms of being considered the least dull (28 per cent) with 47 per cent finding it exciting.
"I probably agree with them," Southgate told The Times. "The coverage needs to be better. Running is first to the line - that's pretty self-explanatory - but in golf, there's a lot of time when no one is hitting a shot. Unless you know the rules and the players, it can be difficult to watch."
However, golf officials hit back at the survey.
"Golf is unique in that any golfer can play against the best players in the world thanks to the handicap system," Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, told The Times.
"I would encourage anyone to take up golf and enjoy a true sport for life."
The survey, though, represents quite a shot in the arm for athletics, with the thrills and spills at the hugely successful World Championships in London last year showing, despite scepticism over doping, that it is a crowd-pleasing show.
"Look at 2012 and last year's World Championships, and you could not help but get caught up in the drama," Darren Campbell, Britain's 200m Olympic silver medallist at the Sydney Games, told The Times.
"Athletics still creates those exciting moments and is the foundation for all sports."