But it's always nice to have an expert verify those beliefs. Particularly when the study in question revealed some interesting and very specific conclusions about the value of golf as exercise, and also about the effects of different kinds of effort on the golfer's score.
The scientist who conducted the study is Neil Wolkodoff, who is the director of the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver, Colo.
According to an Associated Press article (no longer online) about the study's findings, Wolkodoff recruited eight amateurs, all men, with ages ranging from 26 to 61 and handicaps ranging from 2 to 17. The volunteers were fitted with various sensors and measuring equipment, and then each played the front nine of a hilly suburban Denver golf course several times over the course of the study period.
During these 9-hole outings, the golfers varied their means of transportation (walking, riding in a cart) and also their means of transporting the golf bag (on a golf cart, on their shoulders, on a push cart, on a caddie's shoulders).
Among the findings were these numbers (remember, the figures cited are for nine holes only):
- Walking: 721
- Using push cart: 718
- Using caddie: 613
- Riding: 411
- Not riding in cart: 2.5
- Riding in cart: 0.5
The study also looked at the effects on golf scores of different methods of transporting one's golf bag. Those findings were just as interesting:
- Using push cart: 40
- Using caddie: 42
- Riding: 43
- Carrying bag: 45
This study certainly bolsters that argument. Walking the course with a push cart or with a caddie both produced lower average scores than riding in a cart. Walking while carrying one's own bag yielded the highest average scores, however, which likely has to do with the extra physical exertion required. That causes the golfer to tire more quickly and also, Wolkodoff surmises, increase instances of lactic acid build-up in the muscles. When lactic acid increases, fine motor skills decrease, and fine motor skills are what are required for the precise motions of the golf swing.