Riding in golf carts has become the favored mode of transportation for many weekend golfers - but you should try those legs out again for several reasons.
As David Fay, former president of the USGA, has written, "We strongly believe that walking is the most enjoyable way to play golf and that the use of carts is detrimental to the game. This negative trend needs to be stopped now before it becomes accepted that riding in a cart is the way to play golf."
Walking a golf course is good for your health, good for the course's health and good for the game's health.
Everyone knows that walking is the most fundamental of all exercise programs. So it makes sense that walking a golf course would be considered good for you.
It hasn't always been considered that, however. Some have argued that golf is not good exercise because of the start-and-stop nature of walking golf.
Don't believe it. Walking a golf course is a great part of any exercise program, as has long been proved by numerous scientific studies ... not to mention anecdotal evidence and good ol' common sense.
As for those scientific studies: Among others, researchers in Sweden found that walking golf equated to 40-percent to 70-percent of the intensity of a maximum aerobic workout (assuming 18 holes played). In another, cardiologist Dr. Edward A. Palank's study showed that walking golfers reduced their levels of bad cholesterol while keeping their good cholesterol steady; the control group of riding golfers failed to show those good results.
Also, according to Golf Science International, a researcher named Gi Magnusson calculated that four hours of playing golf while walking is comparable to a 45-minute fitness class.
Another study done at the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver, Colo., concluded that walking nine holes on a hilly course is equivalent to a walk of 2.5 miles, compared to 0.5 miles when using a cart. And that a golfer who walks 36 holes a week is burning nearly 3,000 calories (see full summary of study in the article "Guess what - golf is good for you").
An article in the Northern Ohio Golf Association publication Fairways offered suggestions for beginners or veteran riders who want to walk but aren't yet in shape for it:
- Walk alternate holes during a round, so that by the end of your round you've walked nine holes.
- Walk one set of nines, ride the other.
- If you are at a course that requires carts, walk down the fairway to your ball while your partner brings the cart up.
- If playing with a partner who rides, ride only on the cart path and walk to and from the cart to your ball on every hole.
It's also a good idea for walkers to look after their backs either by using a push cart to carry their bag, or by switching from a single-strap bag to a double-strap bag. Golfers can also consider a motorized caddy, which completely relieves the golfer of the need to carry or pull a bag.