Golf Cart - To Walk or Ride on a Golf Course? The 21st Century Golfing Dilemma

Professionals do it on two legs. So do most amateurs in Europe, though there are those persuaded otherwise on occasion. In the US, the very thought of doing it on two legs is almost unheard of on some courses, where everyone instead does it on four wheels.

It seems the question of whether you walk, or ride when you play a round of golf, is a burning issue at the start of the 21st century.

Certainly, the issue caused a stir a decade or so ago when Casey Martin, a professional golfer who suffers from a circulatory disorder that makes it painful for him to walk, asked the USPGA if he could use a golf cart during their tournaments.

Golf-Cart-on-a-golf-course

Not only was he denied this initially, but he was forced to go through the courts, using recent American Disability Act legislation, in order to get the USPGA to allow him to use his cart. That didn’t stop the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Curtis Strange all claim that ‘walking’ was an integral part of the game. Some even claimed that using a cart offered Martin an advantage over other professionals.

This is not an argument over disability, but just on the merits of that statement. Does using a golf cart offer you an advantage?

This is not the case in most scenarios. Golf carts are regularly used on the senior’s tour and also during the first two stages of qualification for the PGA Tour. If this is the case, why are players who opt to use carts on these tours, racing to victory every week?

Golf-trolleys

The facile notion that golf carts offer a sporting advantage seem to stem from the belief that golf is essentially about walking. That is about the same as suggesting that darts and 9-ball pool are about walking too.

Maybe an agruement could be made of the merits of a golf cart in excessive heat. In the amateur game, most courses in hot places only allow people onto their courses in a cart anyway and the players on the professional tours, who play in this hot weather week in, week out, are likely to be well-acclimatised to it anyway.

Let’s not forget, in the event of a play off, we see players racing between tees on a golf trolley, so if it can be used perfectly validly to decide the winner of a Major championship, why can’t it be used in the 72 holes prior to that fact?

A study into why American’s opt to not play golf revealed that having to walk the course was one of the main reasons why people didn’t play. So this seems to be a rallying call to leap into the golf cart at every available opportunity.

Far from it.

The best evidence against using a golf cart does not come from the prehistoric suggestions that it is unfair or offers an advantage, or that it is merely easier for the average person to play a round without breaking sweat. Instead, it comes from the world of medical research.

Resting-from-golf

You can always take a 5 min break

The truth of the matter is, the best reason for opting to walk on a golf course, rather than take a cart, certainly in generally pleasant conditions, is because it can prolong your life.

This is not conjecture. A Swedish team of scientists found that on average, people who played golf regularly were likely to live up to five years longer than people who did not. The reason for this is quite simple, these people walked around 11km (average for 18 holes) every time they stepped out onto a course, often several times a week.

The health benefits that this can produce in the golfer is immense. Walking 11km two or three times a week is excellent cardiovascular exercise, it helps combat stress levels, lowers blood pressure, helps people stay a healthy weight, promotes mental health as well as physical wellbeing and improves respiratory function.

You get none of those weighty benefits sat in a cart.

In a way, golf is the perfect exercise. It works the body enough to have a marked positive benefit, but also keeps the mind acutely active. Whereas the runner may only be focusing on hitting the finishing line and how tired they feel, a golfer is continually thinking about their game, what the next shot will be, where to place the ball on the green, which club to use from the tee. All this helps keep the mind focused on everything else bar the fact, your body is working hard for you.

Walking-on-a-golf-course

So, the question of whether to walk or use a golf cart is perhaps not so simple to answer as first thought. Certainly, those who need to use a cart, such as Casey Martin, should never be prevented from doing so simply on baseless prejudices and incorrect assumptions, however those more able bodied of us seeking to play golf, should embrace the walking aspect as part of the game, not an aspect to be avoided.

Playing golf in a cart will certainly help you enjoy the game.

Walking around a course while you play will help you enjoy the game for longer.

Tell us, do you walk or ride?

Images by Gorilla Golf Blog©

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