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Five Reasons to Kick the Golf Cart Habit

Golf CartLast time out, I tried to shame you into breaking the golf cart addiction and embracing the joys of walking. In case that didn’t work, I’m back with a few concrete reasons why you should just say no to the cart’s powerful yet hollow allure.

Consider this an intervention.

1) Walking is Healthier

You don’t say…

Who would’ve guessed that you burn more calories walking than (mostly) sitting? When accounting for all steps taken in an average 18-hole round over a course of 6,000 yards or more, it adds up to 5-7 miles.

To be sure, you’ll actually shed about 820 calories during a riding round. Not bad. But not nearly as good as the 1,400-plus you’ll drop by toting your bag or using a pull cart. The numbers come from a study by Dr. Neil Wolkodoff (rhymes with “walk-it-off”) of the Rose Center for Health and Sport Sciences.

But wait, there’s more. As a general exercise, golf or no golf, walking is known to boost well-being through the release of endorphins. That makes it a great stress reliever and depression fighter. Helps you sleep better, too.

The fact that walking can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes is a nice bonus, don’t you think?

2) Walking Saves You Money

You know why carts are ubiquitous in the U.S.? Because they make courses money. In fact, cart fees are the No. 2 source of golf course revenue (behind greens fees).

Sure, I want local clubs to thrive – but not at my expense. Carts typically run an extra $12 to $20, which adds faster than you can say “twosome, riding.”

If you’re feeling charitable, you can always pay for the cart and walk anyway. I’m sure the course won’t object. (I wouldn’t try to write it off on your taxes, though.)

3) Walking Warms You Up

Play in a cart when the temperature is below 60 and you’ll feel a chill all day. You’ll be in and out of a jacket or sweater, and your muscles may never warm up.

Walk, on the other hand, and you’ll have a nice sweat going by the third or fourth hole. The pullover will be in your bag, your swing loose and free.

Better yet, walking widens the range of golfable temps. Personally, I’ve walked comfortably on 45-degree days. If a cart’s the only option, anything under 55 and I’m going to the movies instead.

Oh, and if you walk on a cold day, you’ll probably have the course to yourself.

4) Walking Might Speed Your Play

If you’re just going from point A to point B, a cart beats your feet hands-down.

Of course, golf isn’t like that. At all. Which leads to my major beef with carts: They don’t make the game faster. They should. But they don’t.

Admittedly, that’s not the cart’s fault. It’s on those golfers who treat a cart as a license to lollygag. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

A foursome in carts tees off. Each pairing heads toward the closest player’s ball. While golfer one prepares and hits his shot, the golfers two sits in the cart. When golfer one is finished, they drive to the second ball and do it all over again.

A foursome on foot, by contrast, leaves the tee and spreads out individually. Each golfer goes straight to his own ball, preps while waiting for his turn, plays the shot and moseys on. Ah, the beauty of efficiency.

5) Walking Makes You Feel Like an Athlete

Badger me with a “pro golfers aren’t athletes” argument and I’ll debate you all day – or until I win, which will likely come first.

But cart-reliant amateurs are tough to defend.

Performing the golf swing properly requires balance, rhythm, timing, strength and flexibility – all athletic qualities. Do it while walking and a moderate measure of endurance enters the equation.

Played on foot, golf is undoubtedly a sport. Your legs feel weary on the back nine. You’ve got to overcome fatigue, not just physically but mentally. You’re tired when you get home, and you may crash a little early. You might even be a little sore the next morning… almost as though you engaged in real physical activity.

Here’s a true story: About a year ago I went out as a single at a local muni. The guy in the pro shop was caught off guard when I told him I planned to walk. Surprised by his reaction, I asked if the course got many walkers. He shook his head and said, “We don’t get many athletes.”

At 5’6” and 150 pounds, I’m more likely to get mistaken for Tom Cruise than to be called an athlete. And I’m no Tom Cruise.

I gotta tell you, though, it felt good. And I felt like I’d earned it, just a little, when I strolled off the 18th green covered in grimy sweat.

Sometimes, I carry a touch of contempt for all those golfers whizzing around in their motorized chariots. Other times, I actually pity them.

They don’t know what they’re missing.

Daniel MitchellDaniel Mitchell is a golf writer and contributor who lives in Jupiter, Fla., a few miles from Tiger Woods as the crow flies but worlds away in every other respect. An avid golfer since age 12, Mitchell carries a (shaky) single-digit handicap, investing far more time in his dogs than his swing.

You can read his regular musings at


  1. Thanks for posting, Daniel! These are great tips…I will definitely be walking my next round.


  2. I walked the other day for the first time in awhile. The conversation was great and it was relaxing. Hopefully I can make this a habit.

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