To Walk or To Ride
By kickntrue on 5/24/10
By Matt Snyder, ClubSG Contributor

Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. His column will appear each Monday on ClubSG. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

To walk or to ride, that is the question. Well, for most golfers, it really isn't a question at all. Though I could not find an accurate source for the exact percentage of golfers who choose to walk, my experience in working at golf courses for close to 15 years leads me to approximate that fewer than five percent of players choose to walk. In fact, not only is walking not popular, it is almost discouraged by most courses and even by most golfers. Because people consider a golf cart to be faster than walking, those who choose to take advantage of the additional exercise will often provoke several moans and groans from everyone behind them on the first tee. While I understand this reaction and will admit to having it myself from time to time, it is not fair and usually inaccurate. In fact, I think you can go as far as to say that if the group in front of you is walking, you should consider it a blessing.

Think about this for a second, how many times have you seen inexperienced golfers choose to walk? Most players that walk are guys that have been playing for a while and are usually pretty decent players. Now, I know that there are a few guys out there who are good players and also very slow, but for the most part, I think we can all agree that slow play results from golfers who lack experience and the proper know how to keep the game moving. One such example of ignorance that slows down the game is actually the improper use of golf carts. When you’re walking, there are not a whole lot of ways to slow yourself down. However, when you are riding, there are a number of different things that you can do to make the game slower. Whether it is parking the cart in poor locations, riding back and forth searching for balls, walking back and forth to the cart to change clubs, or sitting and watching other people hit their shot instead of preparing to hit their own, riding does not always equal faster play.

Wolkodoff states that walking 36-holes of golf a week burns almost 3000 calories!
All right, now that we have established that walking should not be frowned upon, lets look at some of the reasons that you may want to consider a more physically demanding approach to golf the next time you head out to the links. In 2008, Neil Wolkodoff, director of the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver, did a study about the benefits of walking while playing golf. In his article at, Wolkodoff states that walking 36-holes of golf a week burns almost 3000 calories! Now, it should also be known that even though walking results in an additional two miles or 500% of the distance traversed, the calories burned only increased approximately 75%. Turns out, the act of swinging the golf club actually requires a significant amount of energy and physical output. So, though it is a little obvious, the conclusion is clear that walking is the healthier choice.

While I always assumed that walking was better for me, I have often felt as though I also play better when I walk. For my game, I've always believed that walking helped keep me in a great rhythm. It also provides me plenty of time to think about the shot that I just hit as well as the shot that I’m going to be hitting next. On the other hand, when I’m riding, I hit the ball and then jump in the cart. My focus for the next five minutes is on driving the cart and interacting with whomever I’m riding with instead of thinking about my game and the next shot. The only downside of walking, for me, happens when the physical demand of walking the course gets the best of me on the last couple of holes. In the beginning of the season, when I haven’t been playing or walking a lot, I end up feeling a little tired on the back nine and I can see the consistency in my swing suffer the consequences. In Wolkodoff’s article, he points out that the physical effects of walking come from a build up of lactic acid in your muscles. If you aren’t in good shape, the lactic acid targets your muscles more quickly and that results in a decline in your fine motor skills. So, while walking will help you burn some extra calories, for a while, your game may pay the price for your lack of fitness.

... if you are competing and attempting to play your best, you are better off walking.
From my own experiences and after reading several columns about walking verses riding, I believe that the answer is ultimately conditional. Some courses will not even allow you to walk during most hours of play, which makes walking all the time virtually impossible. Plus, if you know how to properly use a cart, you can play much more quickly when riding. However, if you are competing and attempting to play your best, you are better off walking. And, if you plan on doing this, you should make sure to walk enough during your practice rounds to avoid the effects of fatigue during competition. Walking is also a great option if you are playing during a busy time for the golf course. Instead of driving your cart to your ball and then sitting there for five minutes, you are better off to be walking from shot to shot to stay in rhythm and spend more time focused on your game as apposed to sitting in the cart. So, next time you head out to the links, at least give walking a thought. It may not be something that you do all of the time, but if you try it, you may just be surprised how much you enjoy it.

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

photo source

[ comments ] says:
Matt - I completely agree with your analysis. In the UK most people walk, although I am afraid that more and more people are choosing to ride. In fact, our local course has just put in a very ugly cart path - the objective being to encourage more golf societies who often like to ride. Very few members use carts, with the exception of the older members who find it difficult to get round otherwise.
martin1956 says:
Walking is great, you can see so much more of the course, its wildlife etc. I think it allows you to understand the fairways etc better, and helps keep you relaxed and stops your muscles siezing up. If you are getting older then there are motorised trolleys like the Powakaddy these let you walk, and take the strain off your back as well.

Over here in the UK I tend to get fed up with carts charging around all over the place, the drivers never seem to pay attention to the disruption they cause. I know there are some courses where you need carts, but then it is the same for everyone.
Dastick says:
I definitly like to walk. In fact, I started carrying last year, instead of using a push cart. I think it makes for a faster round.
Rob Perkins says:
I loved your article (probably because I agree with it). I am part of a foursome that my home course loves, we consistently finish rounds in 2 1/2 to 3 hours. we like to be the first group out. By the way, we all walk!
gstrongiii says:
I prefer to walk even on somewhat hilly courses. However, when it get into the high 80's and 90's, the heat can take a toll. So I've started opting for a cart on those days.
Enycee92104 says:
Great article! I walk as a running substitute. My course is in a canyon and very hilly. You can push 27lbs up hill 40 yards as punishment for that slice. It is true, if your course is challenging, practice often to combat fatigue. My winter legs have been breaking down around 13-14. I play right along with carts, often they have the lesser game.
Ed Lover says:
I prefer to walk. I enjoy the exercise and I dislike sitting and standing when using a cart. I prefer to keep moving.
gsprings254 says:
I love to walk. I walk at a brisk pace to make sure it is an exercise and not a Sunday stroll through the park. What better way to get your exercise in than walking while you are getting in 18 holes of fun.
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