Benefits of Walking While Playing Golf

in Golf

Well, no shocker here. Walking while playing golf is better for your health! However, there are more benefits than just to your health when you walk while playing golf. For older golfers, the thought of walking 18 holes can be a bit much if you regularly ride in a cart. Let's explore some of the benefits of walking while playing golf to get you motivated to ditch the cart next time.

From a health perspective, some recent studies have validated what many of us already have known (yes, golf IS a sport and you DO get exercise by playing golf...even if you ride in a cart!). A group called 'Golf Science International' touts that walking for four hours while playing golf is equivalent to a 45-minute aerobic fitness class. Not bad. How about another study that showed a reduction in bad cholesterol from golfers who walked versus their peers who cruised in the cart? A fellow by the name of Edward Palank took the time to take on that study.

You've probably also heard about the '10,000 steps per day challenge', a health program that encourages people to count their steps and do what it takes to get 10k in per day. In my own anecdotal (but quite unscientific) study with my regular golfing buddy, we found that walking your local muni will register around 8000 - 12000 steps.

A study released in late 2008 from Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver validated that golf really is a sport. They strapped up a bunch of study participants and measured some key stats:

  • Walking and carrying your clubs for 9 holes burns 721 calories. A surprising finding was that using a pull cart versus carrying your clubs was a very small difference in the number of calories burned - you still burn 718 calories when using a pull cart! Save your back, use a pull cart.
  • Riding burns 411 - that's still a pretty good number, which indicates that swinging the club is decent exercise in and of itself.
The study then got pretty interesting when it compared the average scores of golfers who walked and carried their clubs, those who walked and pulled their clubs, those who had caddies and those who took a golf cart. The results? Golfers scored best when pulling their clubs. Walking may very well give you time to think about your next shot and improve your game. Here's how the average 9-hole scores broke down:
  • Pull cart: 40
  • Caddy: 42
  • Golf cart: 43
  • Carry clubs: 45
Interesting, huh? You can find more detail on the study at the site.

It's unfortunate that there are many new courses that were not built with the walker in mind. In fact, it isn't uncommon to find some resort courses only allow golf carts and not allow walking at all. Don't be misled by that policy - it's not because it actually takes longer to walk than to ride. In fact, studies show facts to the contrary. Instead, these policies are usually in place because the designer had to put significant distance between green to tee (sometimes for architectural desire to work with in the terrain...but many other times because they are routing a course through a resort or housing development). I'm sure you've played a few of these courses where it isn't uncommon to have one-quarter to one-half mile between holes.

Next time you play 9 or 18 holes, you should consider walking if you don't walk already. If it's a bit too much of a shift for you, start by keeping your cart on the path only and walk to your ball from the path. Then perhaps shift to walking the front nine and riding the back nine before working your way up to walking the entire round. But definitely work your way up to at least walking a few of your rounds and not solely relying on the golf'll enjoy the health benefits and the benefits of lower scores!

Author Box
M. Trent Ricker has 1 articles online

Trent Ricker is the Senior Editor at Golf Over 50 (, the online magazine for Baby Boomer Golfers featuring golf tips, articles, and travel info for golfers over 50. Trent also writes for Golf Tours Online (, a golf travel website with golf course and golf resort reviews as well as golf travel discounts. Trent is the co-author of Fairways to Heaven: The Journeyman's Guide to American Golf, a book on the top public-access golf courses in the United States.

Add New Comment

Benefits of Walking While Playing Golf

Log in or Create Account to post a comment.
Security Code: Captcha Image Change Image
This article was published on 2010/04/01