Brain and Body

It’s obvious that walking the golf course during a round offers better exercise than riding in a cart. But how much better?

Numerous studies have been conducted on the topic, with varying results. On the low end, walking 18 holes on a regulation-length course (more than 6,000 yards) while carrying your bag is estimated to burn 400 calories, compared with 200 calories if you ride. 

Another study, conducted by sports scientist Neil Wolkodoff, found that golfers walking just nine holes burned a whopping 721 calories, or more than 1,400 calories for 18 holes. The same study’s riders burned 411 calories over nine holes, or 800-plus for 18. 

There are variables, of course, such as the hilliness of the course, distance between greens and tees, and even the golfer’s proficiency. (One who travels the middle of fairways will walk less – and swing less often — than one whose shots veer sideways.) 

Splitting the difference, figure that a round walked will burn around 900 calories, or the equivalent of an hour-and-a-half fitness class. Riding burns around 500 calories – not bad at all. 

Medical experts agree that burning 2,500 calories or more per week reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, making it clear that golf – walking or riding – provides excellent exercise.