Golf In A Plague Year April 26: Walking
In Michigan, golf is now walking-only. That’s not a bad thing.
Even as stay-at-home orders were extended until mid-May, Michigan Governor Whitmer gave the golf the okay. One caveat: golf is walking only. In that, Michigan is following the example of other states that have opened courses.
The walking-only edict makes sense. Carts offer an unnecessary node of transmission. Even with a single person in a cart, course workers would be required to be on site to clean between plays. That exposes workers. Further, if all the nooks and crannies in a cart are not sanitized, the next cart rider could be exposed.
As a dedicated walker, the situation suits me perfectly fine. I will walk even the most rugged layout if management will permits.
In fact, I think that the walking-only edict may be good for golf and golfers. A positive outcome of this pandemic would be for more golfers to try the walking game.
Golf is good exercise — if you walk. On my last round, I clocked six miles, and according to my Garmin fitness watch burned some 500 calories.
Serious medical issues aside, I think walking a round of golf is well within the average golfer’s ability. If you can’t do eighteen, start with nine on a relatively flat course. Old school courses generally are the best for walkers, with the short distances between greens and the next tee. Before you know it, you’ll be traversing the links with aplomb.
And, as you lubricate those joints, lose a few pounds, get that blood pressure down and build lung capacity, you’ll find that life improves in other areas as well.
Golfers new to walking also will discover what dedicated walkers have long known: walking is just as fast — if not faster — then playing cart ball.
Here’s just one way in which walkers have the edge over cart riders: we can bring our complete bags right up to the edge of the green. There’s no parking twenty yards away, deciding which four or five clubs take with you, and then walking to the green. Every club you could possibly need — along with your towel, etc. are right there. (There’s also no need to lay a club down in the grass and get its grip wet.)
At my home course, I regularly walk eighteen in well under three hours.
Golfers who walk also may score better. A study done by Neil Wolkodoff of the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver, found that golfers walking — and pushing a cart — score better than golfers who ride.
In his study, over a nine hole round, golfers pushing a cart averaged a score of 40, while those riding in a cart averaged 43. That works out to 6 strokes a round.
Who wouldn’t want to improve by six strokes a round?
Those numbers coincide with my own score analysis. I am convinced that over the course of a full round, I am five shots better walking than I am riding.
Incidentally, Wolkodoff found that playing with a caddie, players averaged 42; while carrying a bag, they averaged 45.
The path is clear, then. For your health, for the speed of the game, and for your scoring average, you should be walking — and pushing a cart.
My latest cart is a Big Max Blade IP (photo at top). It’s a terrific piece of hardware. You can read my Big Max Blade IP review at the link.
Rick Oldach, CEO of push cart specialist Big Max USA says that “It is clear there is a pent up demand for golf throughout North America as spring arrives with everyone exercising good judgement and abiding by the stay at home orders. Golfers feel that walking allows them to maintain safe distancing and maximum hygiene while getting out in the fresh air to play this game that we all love. Golf provides a safe outlet and walking delivers the physical component that helps alleviate whatever stress we are all feeling as we navigate through this crisis.”
Oldach continues: “Studies have shown that on average, you walk 69% further than the scorecard yardage in a single round of golf and that you burn more or less the same calories using a push cart as you do carrying your bag, so new walkers will certainly feel the immediate health benefits. But more than that, golfers that typically ride in a cart will experience the joy and camaraderie and wonderful pace of play that walking alongside your playing partners brings to the game – keeping proper distancing of course! I think this new experience will take many by surprise and hope that it will continue long after we’re through this period.”
Anecdotally, there seems to be a bit of a shortage of push carts in the market right now. The demand of desperate riders is outstripping supply.
For my part, I am quite happy with my Blade IP for now. However, my dream is one of those electrically powered trolleys that follows its player around. I’d love to be able to freely swing my arms while strolling down the fairway, my mechanical caddie not far behind.