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The Benefits of Walking the Golf Course

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

Contestants walk toward the first fairway during the first round of the 2021 PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship held at TPC Sawgrass.PGA of Ameica

The first electric golf cart was a custom-made model made in 1932, but carts did not gain widespread acceptance for quite some time after that. From the 1930s up until the 1950s, the most widespread use of golf carts was for those with disabilities who could not walk the course. By the mid-1950s the golf cart had gained wide acceptance with US golfers and became a mainstay. Today, golf carts dominate the landscape at US golf courses.
However, with our golfing counterparts across the pond, in the UK, and in many spots around the world, walking the course and using either a “trolly” or pushcart, or hiring a caddy, is the most popular way to play. The golf cart is a very important revenue stream for the large majority of US courses, and in many cases, is a requirement for playing.
So, what ever happened to walking the golf course? Well, as I mentioned previously, money, for one thing, but in addition to that, many golf courses are designed over vast acres, many of which have designs laid out among housing communities and have long walks in between green and tee boxes. This makes carts a necessity in some cases.
If a golf course does allow walking and has a layout to accommodate this mode of transportation, it is an absolutely fantastic way to play the game. If you have not recently threw a carry bag over your shoulder and hoofed your way around the links in some time, you should rediscover this more traditional way to play the game.
According to The Walking Golfers Society (yes, this is a real organization), there are several reasons for considering adopting this form of playing the game.
The four primary benefits of walking to the golfer:
1. Physical - The most obvious benefit is the good walking does for your health. You burn almost twice as many calories as you would riding in a cart. A typical round of 18 holes stretches up to four miles, or more in some cases and allows the golfer to get in over 10,000 steps. Walking the course can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid all of the complications that go along with weight gain, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
While working for 13 years at the very popular Winter Park 9 Hole Golf Course in Winter Park, FL, I saw firsthand how walking the course can keep a golfer young. Winter Park is primarily a walking course. The 9-hole layout is a great walk and a fun, yet challenging test. During my tenure at this gem, the average age of a member was around 75, with several golfers playing well into their 80’s and some even into their 90’s. Many claimed that walking the course was the secret to their longevity.
2. Scoring – You shoot better scores than those who are riding in a cart.
3. Social – You have a much better opportunity to interact with all your playing partners.
4. Experience – You can fully enjoy the natural beauty of the course from tee to green.
The benefits of walking are not limited to the golfer, they extend to the golf course as well. A walking golfer has much less of an impact on the turf than those that ride in a golf cart.
Walking the course, believe it or not, also speeds up play. Think about it, if two golfers are sharing a cart, and one goes right and the other left, you get a back-and-forth pattern of play as you navigate the course. While walking, you can go straight to your ball and be ready to go when you arrive.
If it has been a while, why not give walking the course a try the next time you have the opportunity.