Walking the Course Versus Riding a Golf Cart

Golf is a sport that you play across a vast amount of space. Whether you’re going for nine holes or the full eighteen, there’s a lot of acreage to cover — and you might find yourself wondering, should I walk or rent a cart?

Both options have their share of pros and cons, so if you choose to walk rather than ride, or vice versa, you may discover a host of refreshing benefits.

The Benefits of Walking the Golf Course

The game’s most renowned ideals — patience, sportsmanship, courtesy, and honesty — have been embraced for decades. But golf’s oldest tradition — walking — is often overlooked. In 1951, Merle Williams’ Marketeer Company released its electric golf cart, which soon became popular throughout the United States. A trend began and, before too long, golfers around the world were relishing the golf cart’s mobility.

However, carts aren’t always the solution. Many courses forbid carts from going off the paved roads if the green is wet or weather is inclement. They also aren’t free. Courses are happy to rent you one for your round at a price. If you play multiple times a week, that’s the same price every round. Walking on the other hand, is free! And it also provides many other benefits.

Health Benefits

One of the most obvious advantages of walking during a golf round is the health benefits. A golfer usually burns twice as many calories walking 18 holes as does one who rides a cart. Walking 18 holes is equivalent to a 3.5 to 4 mile run and can exceed 10,000 steps during a typical round. This level of exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, prevent, or manage conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, strengthen muscles and bones, improve your balance and coordination, and improve your overall mood.

And if you need even more proof, The New York Times reports:

  • Golfers who walk while carrying their bags burn 721 calories
  • Golfers who walk with push carts burn 718 calories
  • Golfers who ride in a cart only burn an average of 411 calories riding a cart

Social Benefits

As a highly sociable game, golf gives you the chance to mingle with friends, colleagues, and family. While walking the course, you can catch up on life as you stroll fairways, approach greens, and search for balls together. This one-on-one interaction by foot offers you an entirely different social experience than you will have if you choose to ride in a cart.

Improve Scores
Walking may improve your scores, as well as the conditions of the courses you play. By walking, you can study the layouts of courses, including the contours of fairways and greens much more easily than golfers who ride. This allows you to judge breaks in greens, as well as landing areas. When riding a cart, you just get to the ball too quickly. This can be a blessing and a curse. If you’re playing well, riding in a cart can help stay in your groove. If you’re having a bad game, you don’t have the time to re-evaluate.

Benefits of Using a Cart During Your Golf Game

The National Golf Foundation estimates two-thirds of golfers in the United States ride carts when they play. Golf carts were traditionally reserved for those with physical disabilities who couldn’t walk the distances required of a round. Today, golfers who prefer a more leisurely experience, without the need to lug a bag of clubs and accessories weighing more than 25 lbs. around the course, use them. At some courses their use is even required. Check out some of the reasons many players prefer them.

Cover a lot of Ground

Golf carts can help you cover a lot of ground quickly. You’ll get to your ball, the hole, and the tee much quicker that doing so by foot.

Less Stress on Body

Riding in a cart (or using a pushcart) puts much less stress on your body. When you carry your bag, you’re putting great stress on your shoulders, legs, and spine. Having that much weight on your back can also compress your spine and lead to back, knee, and ankle injuries.

Protection from the Elements

Mother Nature can be unpredictable. Having a cart on hand provide you protection from the unexpected thunderstorm or shelter from oppressive heat. It’s also gives you somewhere to sit between shots if you have joint issues or injuries.

You Call the Shots

When it comes down to it, it’s up to you. Unless the course has rules about using or not using them. In a way, golf is the perfect exercise, working the body enough to have positive benefits, but also keeps the mind acutely active. At the same time, using a cart give the game a more leisurely feel, which may be better for you if hours of walking bothers your body. Either way, getting out there and playing is what it’s all about!