Golf for fun and health

One of the many time honored traditions of golf is walking the course and soaking up the beauty of the surrounding. Walking has other benefits as well, like improving both your health and the environment that you might not have thought of. Unfortunately less and less golfers walk and instead the use of the cart have been the preferred mode of transportation.

There may be various reasons why walking may not be an option. First, the golfer’s health is the issue as the golfer may suffer from foot, knee or back ailments preventing them from walking the course without pain or discomfort. But many times the course will not allow walking as they have strict rules on mandatory use of carts during certain hours or the course was built that the adjacent holes are simply too far apart to make walking practical. However, many golf courses are walking-friendly and there is an option that is left up to the golfer.

Good old common sense knows the health benefits of walking as a form of exercise. Some of these benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer, lowering blood pressure, reducing high cholesterol, reducing body fat to help control weight and enhance your mental well being just to name a few.

Walking the course in some fashion is no different than walking in a park other than a sport is played along the way. In many cases where the golf course is packed, walking will actually take the same amount of time as riding in the cart. For 18-holes, one will walk approximately 4 to 5 miles including the distances meandering across the fairways, on and around the green to line up a putt and going from the green to the next hole. For that amount of walking, one is only looking at 4 hours and 15 minute to 4 and one half hours to complete the round on average. This is not a torrid pace, but still you can lose easily 400 calories in the meantime.

Walking allows you to pace out your play and make it more enjoyable. How many times have you ridden in a cart only to rush up to the next group then have to wait and continue this hole after hole for the entire round? This make the game less fun as you become more occupied by the fact you have to wait, lose your rhythm and sometimes your patience. Worse yet are the golf courses that are “cart path only” that you usually end up walking just as far and still end up spending for the cart fee!

If you do walk, here are some things to think about before starting. First stretch out. You might want to do this before swinging a club anyway as this will help avoid pulling a muscle. You might seriously consider wearing a hat to keep the sun off of you face and top of your head and also apply sun screen to reduce the risk of sun exposure to your skin. Depending upon wear you live, wear light colored socks to reduce the risk of picking up ticks and avoid poison ivy (oak) if going off the path to look for a lost ball.

Aside from the health issues is the environmental aspect of walking. First, the wear and tear on a golf course is far less impacted by those who walk than the damage a golf cart can do, especially in the fairways (where your ball might land) and near the greens by those who may not know better. In addition, the fuel to power or run a golf cart does produce greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere. That is something to think of for future generations.

So next time you head to the course, consider walking if you already don’t. That is of course if that is an option based on your health or the golf course rules simply don’t allow so. Soak up the splendor of the environment and enjoy the game as it was meant to be –walking both for fun and your health.

by Jeff Summitt
Hireko Technical Director