It is hard to say, because the number of calories burned playing golf depends upon body weight, whether you’re riding or walking, carrying clubs or pulling a cart. If you’re walking, your pace is a factor.
Depending upon the course, a walk can cover between three and eight miles. Consider: a 6,800 yard course is 3.5 miles from tee to green. Factor in distances from green to the next tee, and the fact that you are not likely to be playing straight down the middle.
Various “fitness experts” have estimated walkers burn around 1,500 calories per round. Riders, the same experts say, may burn as many as 800. A University of Edinburgh study found that golfers usually burn at least 500 calories over 18 holes. Walkers, in their study, tread four to eight miles.
My own fitness trackers tell an uncertain story. One that I have used in the past indicated that I’m burning between around 550 – 600 calories on my 18 hole rounds. Based just on the one snapshot in the image to the left, that works out to 126 calories per mile of golf walked.
My current tracker, a Microsoft Band 2, seems to indicate twice as many calories burned per mile. It gives consistently higher numbers than my previous device. The math on the screen capture for my Microsoft Band says that I’m burning 240 calories per mile. That course, however, is much more rugged than the first.
One thing seems clear, though: Playing golf can extend your life. From the University of Edinburgh:
We know that the moderate physical activity that golf provides increases life expectancy, has mental health benefits, and can help prevent and treat more than 40 major chronic diseases such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer. Evidence suggests golfers live longer than non-golfers, enjoying improvements in cholesterol levels, body composition, wellness, self-esteem and self-worth. Given that the sport can be played by the very young to the very old, this demonstrates a wide variety of health benefits for people of all ages.