During my family vacation to Oak Island, I had the opportunity to take a day and meet some of my Lumberton friends for a round of golf.
We met at Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest and what a spectacular course. It was long and challenging, but what I was most excited about was the high-tech golf carts. The carts had their own touch screens complete with GPS. They not only showed the distance to every landmark on the hole, but prompted online ordering at the restaurant near the end of the front nine and flashed the secret code to bathrooms whenever we approached one.
How cool is that?
I have to admit I was spoiled. But as I rode along in the lap of luxury, I could not help but think what a great workout it would be to walk the 18 holes. When I got back to the beach house, I Googled the course and did the math. Roughly 4.1 miles from tee to green, plus walking between holes and to my ball, which often times was all over the course, and we are looking at a good five miles of walking. This holds true for most golf courses. So why is everyone riding golf carts?
Golf courses are packed this time of year, but instead of golfers communing with nature and listening to the chirping of the birds and the breeze blowing through the trees, the courses sound more like a NASCAR race, the only difference being that the drivers are drinking beer and eating chips and not the spectators.
So what is wrong with this picture?
I am sure those of you who own and operate golf courses will argue that more folks get to play if everyone is riding. Not true. According to the USGA, over the course of 18 holes, a foursome sharing two carts wastes a huge amount of time driving from one rider’s ball to the other. Walkers, on the other hand, go directly to their own ball so there is less time spent chatting with partners about the next shot.
Several studies have shown the health benefits of walking over riding. A study done in Sweden showed that walking golf was equivalent to a 45-minute cardiovascular workout. A second study showed a reduction in LDL or bad cholesterol in a study comparing walking golfers to riders. The normal benefits of walking also apply, including decreased stress, increased endurance, and weight control and overall cardiovascular health.
If you are ready to leave the cart behind but don’t feel you are in shape enough yet, follow this simple plan to get started:
— Walk alternate holes during a round so by the end you have walked nine holes.
— Walk one set of nines and ride the other.
— If you are on a course that requires carts, walk down the fairway to your ball while your partner brings the cart up.
— If playing with a partner who rides, only ride the course on the cart path and walk to and from the cart to your ball on every hole.
— Many courses allow walking on weekdays and after a certain time on weekends. Call ahead to see when walking can begin.
— Be kind to your back. Use a pull cart for you clubs.
Walking a course also gets you closer to the course. You have more time to contemplate shots and enjoy the scenery. Keeping the fairways nicer, while reaping the benefits of good health is a win/win. For more information on the benefits of golf walking, check out www.walkinggolf.com.
See you on the links, bag on my back, picking my way through the underbrush, bunkers and waters of our local golf courses.
Kathy Hansen has more than 30 years of experience in the health and fitness field and shot a respectable 92 at Carolina National. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]