Golf Course can Improve Health 1

Golf carts were invented in the 1930s, became widely used in the '50s and are the primary mode of transportation for the majority of golfers today (at least in the U.S.).

In many ways, carts have been good for golf. Many spectacular courses have been built on land unsuitable for walking. Carts provide courses with a significant (and much-needed) revenue source as well. And they allow injured or disabled golfers to continue enjoying the game.

But there's no question that walking the course is healthier than riding a cart. There are numerous studies that prove it.

The Rose Center for Health & Sports Sciences (Colorado) found that a golfer walking 18 holes can burn 1,400 calories or more, compared with 800 calories used when playing in a cart. Research by cardiologist Dr. Edward A. Palank revealed that walking can reduce bad cholesterol, while riding does not. Golf Course can Improve Health 4Golf Science International determined a four-hour walking round to equal the benefits of 45 minutes in fitness class.

Generally speaking, you'll walk about 5-7 miles during an 18-hole round over a course measuring 6,000 yards or more. Depending on the terrain, your heart rate will increase to an average of 111 – 119 beats per minute and top out at around 150 bpm. In addition, walking may:

  • Lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes
  • Help you lose weight
  • Reduce stressGolf Course can Improve Health 5
  • Boost your energy and improve your sleep
  • Increase your lung capacity and stamina
  • Improve your mood while fighting depression and anxiety
  • Enhance your immune system
  • Walking has even been shown to reduce cravings among cigarette smokers, making it easier to quit. That, of course, opens a whole new world of benefits.

    There is a lot to like about the game of golf.

    Walk the Golf Course for Added Health Benefits

    For starters, it's fun. It is fun to get out on the course and challenge yourself, and it is fun to spend time with friends and other golfers. Many courses are rather scenic as well, which will only add to your enjoyment of the day. As far as hobbies go, it is hard to do much better than spending your free time on the links. When you look at just how much there is to enjoy about golf, it is easy to see why so many players stick with this game for a lifetime.

    In addition to the sheer fun of the game, some golfers take part in this activity because of the potential health benefits. In a world where more and more people spend a large majority of their time sitting down, getting out on the course is a great way to stay active. It's not exactly like going to the gym but playing golf does offer a number of potential fitness benefits that you may enjoy over the years. Those benefits are likely to be enhanced greatly if you choose to walk the golf course rather than riding in a cart.

    In this article, we are going to talk about the subject of walking the golf course. We will touch on the potential health benefits, and we will also get into the details of making it work for you. How do you prepare for a round of golf where you will be walking the course, and how do those preparations differ from rounds where you will be riding? What kind of impact does walking the course have on your game? We will answer these questions and more in the content below.

    Of course, before we get started, it needs to be noted that you should always check with a doctor before taking on any kind of new physical challenge. If you have always played golf by riding in a cart, and you aren't sure of your level of physical fitness, it would be wise to check in with your doctor before deciding to walk the course. It might not be the same physical challenge as running a marathon but walking a full round of golf is still a meaningful endeavor. Get the okay from your doctor in advance and address any physical concerns you may have before deciding to walk an upcoming round.

    All of the content below is written from the perspective of a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

    Potential Health Gains from Walking the Course

    Potential Health Gains from Walking the Course

    When you think about improving your physical fitness, heading to the golf course is probably not the first idea that comes to mind. However, there are a few ways in which you may be able to raise your overall level of fitness if you regularly walk the course while playing this great game. Remember, only head out for a walking round of golf if you are suitably fit, and if you have approval from your doctor.

    Let's take a look at a few of the potential health benefits associated with walking the golf course.

    • Burn calories. If you spend most of your days sitting at a desk for long hours at a time, walking a golf course is an opportunity to burn some calories while having fun at the same time. Are you going to burn as many calories as if you went for a long run? No, almost certainly not. You can burn a significant number of calories, however, as walking a full-size 18-hole golf course often calls for five miles or more of walking. The great thing about burning calories this way is, unlike with many other forms of exercise, you won't feel like you are only spending your time with the goal of a calorie burn. You will simply be having fun playing golf, and the calorie burn will just be a nice side benefit.
    • Work on your leg muscles. If golf courses were perfectly flat, walking the course would still offer some health benefits. They aren't perfectly flat, however, meaning there are even more benefits to be enjoyed. By walking up and down hills throughout the day, you will have a chance to work out many of the different muscles in your legs. If you haven't walked the course in a while, or if you play a particularly hilly course, don't be surprised if your legs are sore for a couple days after the round.
    • Relaxation. This is not a physical benefit of walking the course necessarily, but it is an important point to mention. Many golfers who prefer to walk the course do so not for physical benefits so much as mental ones. When you walk the course, you will have long stretches of time where you are simply strolling up the fairway, taking in the sights of the course. This can be an enjoyable experience anytime, but many golfers find it particularly enjoyable when they play alone. A golf course can be a peaceful and quiet place when it is not busy, and you may find those times to be some of your favorites. If you like to get out and play golf because of the break it provides from fast paced day-to-day life, walking the course will only add to the peacefulness of the experience.

    You stand to gain in a number of ways if you add walking the golf course to your usual plan when you head out for a round. Another benefit that we should be sure to mention is the fact that you can save money when you decide to walk. Most courses charge an additional fee to ride in a cart, unless a cart is included in the cost of the green fee (which is usually only the case on courses where walking is not allowed). In some cases, the cost of renting a golf cart can nearly double the overall cost of the round. For instance, you might play a course which charges $30 to play 18 holes, but the cart rental could be an additional $20 or $25. So, in addition to potentially improving your health, you can to a favor for your bank account as well.

    There is a lot to like about walking the course, and not much to say on the negative side of the ledger. If you've always been one to ride in a cart just because that's what others were doing, you may want to try walking for an upcoming round to see how you like it. Don't be surprised if walking the course quickly becomes your favorite way to enjoy a round of golf – either with friends, or all on your own.

    Getting Ready

    Getting Ready

    Shifting gears from talking about the health benefits you may enjoy from walking the course, we are now going to get into the details of how to handle this task. Remember, you may be walking more than five miles if you are playing a full-size golf course, so this is not something that should be taken lightly. It may not be the same as running a marathon, but it is still enough physical exertion to get your attention.

    In addition to preparing yourself for the work of walking a few miles around a golf course, you also want to make sure you are able to play your best. With that in mind, please check out the tips we have listed below for getting ready to walk a round of golf.

    • Lighten the load. This is the obvious place to start. When you are riding in a golf cart, you don't particularly care how much your golf bag weighs. As long as the cart is up to the task, you are good to go. You can toss in a few bottles of water, some snacks, extra clothes – whatever. This story changes completely, however, when you decide to walk the course. Whether you are going to carry your bag or push it on a three-wheeled cart, you are going to care much more about the weight of your gear. Unnecessary items should be left behind, as they are only going to add to your load. It might take a bit of practice to get down to the essentials, as you need to strike a balance between carrying too much and not having everything you need. It is still advised to bring along water and maybe a snack, as you can't always count on those things being available out on the course. With enough experience walking the course, you will get comfortable with packing your golf bag appropriately for the day ahead.
    • Think about socks. Golf courses aren't always dry. Even if you are playing on a nice day, there might be wet spots around the course where the sprinklers had been running. Or, if you play early in the day, there may be dew on the ground that causes your socks and shoes to get wet. With that in mind, one smart thing to add to your golf bag is an extra pair or two of socks. This will add barely any weight at all to your gear, but it is a nice thing to have available. If your feet your feet getting damp from water or just from sweat, switch to a new pair of socks before your feet get uncomfortable.
    • Carry or cart? One of the key decisions you need to make is whether to carry your bag or push it on a cart. This is completely a matter of personal preference, as there is no right or wrong answer. However, you do need to be prepared, as you'll want to have the right equipment for the job. When carrying your clubs, you want to have a bag that has a stand which automatically extends when you put it down. This avoids you having to lay your bag down in the (potentially wet) grass, and it makes it easier to pick them up again after you've hit your shot. If you are going to push your clubs on a cart, you'll quite obviously need to have a cart available. You can buy your own cart if you plan to make this a regular routine, or you may be able to rent one from the golf course. Not all courses have rental push carts available, however, so check in advance on this point.
    • The right clothes. Dressing for a round of golf where you will be walking the course can be tricky. That is especially true if the weather is a bit chilly. You will want to dress warm enough to remain comfortable, but not so warm that you get sweaty while walking along. When you ride in a cart, it is easier to dress warmly, since you aren't going to be exerting as much throughout the course of the day. In the end, the solution is usually to dress in lightweight layers. That way, you can add or remove layers as the days goes on, depending on how you feel and how the conditions change.

    Walking the golf course doesn't need to be complicated. This list above might look long, but there is nothing in there that is particularly difficult to manage. Once you get used to walking during your rounds, it will be easy to get ready and you'll be comfortable with what you need to have on hand to make it a successful day.

    To finish up this discussion on walking the golf course, let's touch on a few final points.

    • It depends on the course. The enjoyment that you may get from walking the golf course will depend to some degree on the course you are playing that day. Simply put, some courses are better to walk than others. Specifically, courses with significant distances between tees are not so enjoyable from a walking perspective. Also, course with dramatic elevation changes throughout the layout can be tough on walkers. If you are playing a course for the first time and aren't sure whether to walk or ride, ask in the pro shop for advice.
    • Get good shoes. You will want to have good shoes on your feet if you are going to walk the course regularly. As we said previously, walking a full-size 18-hole golf course means covering several miles in most cases, so you don't want to subject your feet to punishment by using poor quality or worn-out shoes. You don't necessarily have to buy the most expensive shoes on the market, but you will want ones that provide the support and traction you need. Pay attention to the condition of your shoes over time and replace them when necessary.
    • Find the right group. It can be hard to walk your rounds when you play most of your golf with players who prefer to ride. In many ways, walking when others are riding is kind of like you are playing alone. While you don't necessarily need to ditch your existing group just because they like to ride, try to play some rounds with others who enjoy walking as well. You will probably have fun playing with others who are getting around the course in the same manner as yourself, since you'll be able to chat all the way up the fairways.

    Walking your rounds of golf can be a great pleasure, assuming you are physically fit enough to handle the task. Along with the potential health benefits, you might be able to improve your performance, and you may have more fun along the way as well. We hope this article has provided you with some direction if you plan to begin walking at least some of your rounds of golf in the future. Good luck!