This year I have decided to make a conscious effort to walk instead of ride as much as I can. To date, I have only played 5 rounds where I used a golf cart. Four of those rounds were in Myrtle Beach where, honestly, I don’t even know if they allow you to walk most of those courses. A lot of courses in that area would be a challenge to walk due to the distance from green to tee between holes. Overall since I have been walking, I find my scores have improved and I find it easier to stay focused during my round. I have always felt that I play better when walking a course but I feel like this year has been a mini non-scientific experiment that has reassured my sentiment. So I ask, does it even matter if you walk or ride and if you do walk, is carrying better than using a push cart? Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of Riding, Carrying, and Pushing. We’ll look at both the health benefits as well as any effect on lowering scores.
Well, this is a tricky one. While I would not argue that there are any health benefits to riding in a golf cart we must recognize that for a sport that allows you to play well into your senior years, golf carts are a necessity. Golf carts make the game accessible to those who are not physically able to walk a golf course due to health issues.
It’s been proven that walking regularly is one of the best exercises we can do and most likely will add years to your life. Walking a golf course was indeed how the game was intended to be played and one of the reasons I think I stay more connected to a round mentally. For one, you can walk directly to your ball and not have to get mixed up in what your riding partner is getting into. Watching someone hack it out of the trees doesn’t put you in a great spot mentally for your next shot. It also gives you some time to forget about a bad shot as you walk to find where your ball has landed. In a round of golf depending on the yardage and your ability you will walk anywhere from 4 to 6+ miles. That is a pretty good workout for a leisurely round with your buddies.
An article in the Washington posts cites a 2008 study that found golfers walked 2.5 miles and burned 718 calories using a pushcart over nine holes. Using a golf cart, they walked a half-mile and burned 411 calories.
I also notice that my muscles stay loose easier even during a slow round. Often times when riding I feel like it takes me 9 holes to warm up and start to groove my swing. Walking get’s the muscles engaged and I can settle into a rhythm much quicker.
Seems to me like walking in the clear winner if you are trying to use your round of golf as an excuse for exercise.
I found a great article from the New York Times that cover this exact topic. Read the whole article for some great insight. I will summarize below.
Unfortunately, riding seemed to get the shaft again. The study does, however, acknowledge that your level of fitness does play a role and that fatigue while walking will add a few strokes to your score. For this reason, you may not see realize the benefits of walking until you can comfortably walk a round without becoming fatigued. For me, however, I would rather add a few strokes for the sake of better fitness.
The study concluded that golfers shot the lowest scores while walking with a caddie or a push cart. Riding in a cart was second and golfers carrying their clubs posted the highest scores overall. Well, this seems to justify my hypothesis to some extent. I was however surprised that carrying your clubs resulted in the highest scores. Currently, I carry my clubs and am shooting some low scores. Maybe it is time for a push cart, or maybe fitness level plays a role here as well. Let’s take a further look into carrying versus a push cart.
Carry or Push:
As I mentioned, most of my rounds this year have been played walking while carrying my bag. In contrast, my normal playing partner walks and uses a push cart. I would like to buy a push cart, but I am pretty cheap. I also justify this by making some observations that support my decision to carry my bag. First, I like to be able to walk over a green, tee, hill, etc directly to my ball. Second, one of the biggest things I enjoy about walking is that I never have to walk back to the cart to get the correct club when I realize that my lie calls for a different shot. I never have to carry multiple clubs around. In contrast, my friend will often leave his push cart out on the cart path or well off the green and bring the clubs he thinks he needs.
The converse argument is, of course, the scientific evidence that proves I might play even better and be less fatigued with a push cart. My clubs are an inch longer and heavier than most, and my golf bag is not the lightest. I also have disc/nerve issues in my neck and because of this am most likely the perfect candidate for a push cart.
Well, it looks like I am in the market for a new push cart. Check back and I will review some of the carts I test and go over their benefits and design flaws. I will also update this post with my new observations once I play a few rounds with my new buggy.
In conclusion, If you can, get out and walk. Even if you don’t score well, you are benefiting yourself in other ways.
Disclaimer – I am not a scientist just a guy with some opinions on the subject. I have done a little research to make my arguments but please don’t take this information as scientific proof. Just get out there and walk a round and see if you agree.