In my last post I professed a strong preference for walking the course over taking a golf cart. I also promised a follow-up piece detailing the ways walking is the superior mode of transportation, plus suggestions for getting your stroll on without killing your feet or your scorecard.
On second thought, that’ll require two separate posts. Then again, the topic is so near and dear that I may write about nothing else ever again.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Without further delay, here are my top 5 ways walking beats riding:
- Walking is better for you
Well, duh. It doesn’t take a physiologist to figure out that you’ll burn more calories by walking 5-7 miles than sitting on your can most of the way. But how many more?
According to a study by Dr. Neil Wolkodoff of the Rose Center for Health and Sport Sciences, the average person can torch nearly 1,450 calories by walking 18 holes on a full-length course (6,000-plus yards). The number is about the same whether you carry your bag or use a push cart. By contrast, you’ll burn around 820 calories riding a cart.
What’s more, walking gets your happy fluids flowing, releasing endorphins for a noticeable boost in well-being. Exercise can also reduce stress and improve sleep.
- You can play when it’s chilly
Playing in a cart when the temperature is below 60 degrees means adding at least one layer of clothing. Worse, it gets colder when the cart is moving, and warming up the muscles is difficult. Most golfers rule out playing altogether when temps dip below 50.
Next time a cold spell has you reconsidering a round, try walking. All that pumping blood will make you good and toasty within a hole or two, and you may even break a sweat by three or four. Best of all, you’ll probably have the course to yourself.
- You’ll save money
Sure, walking deprives golf courses of precious golf cart revenue. That’s their problem, not yours. Eschew the chariot and you’ll save at least 10 bucks per outing, and probably more like 15.
Just promise you won’t spend it on naked lady tees.
- You might actually play faster
My main beef with carts is that they don’t achieve their primary purpose of making golf faster. On the contrary, carts often slow the game down. I know what you’re thinking: How do you figure, walking boy?
Let’s take your average foursome on foot. When they leave the tee box, each heads directly to his own ball. Once there, each golfer preps for his shot and is ready to hit when his turn comes.
Contrast this with a cart-bound foursome, where each pair drives first to one player’s ball. Typically, the other golfer waits in the cart while his buddy hits. Then they drive to player two’s ball and repeat the process. All the while, there’s a second cart going through the same process as the group behind kills time on the tee.
If you’re unable to walk or simply prefer playing in a cart, at least do this: Either drop the first player at his ball, drive to yours and be ready to hit in turn, or leave the cart with golfer one and walk to your ball while he’s doing his business. You’ll save time and get a little exercise in the deal.
- People will think you’re an athlete
True story: Yesterday I showed up at a local muni and told the clerk I wanted to pay for 18 holes, walking. He seemed surprised, so I said, “You don’t get many walkers here, huh?” His reply: “We don’t get many athletes here.”
At 5’6” and 160 pounds, it’s not every day I get confused for an athlete. But damn, it felt good.
I felt even better striding away from the 18th green, bag on my back, sweating like an honest-to-goodness jock. It mattered little that I played so-so at best, or that I faced the decidedly un-athletic task of stopping for groceries on the way home.
My endorphins were positively kickin’.
Stay tuned for the third and (probably) final part of this preachy, self-congratulatory series extolling the virtues of playing golf on foot.