Impact of Golf on Your Health

Golf Fitness

Golf has witnessed a major transition over the last 60 years.  In the past, if you played golf you walked, carried your bag or used a caddy. Gradually the game has become dominated by golf carts.  The use of motorized golf carts transformed the golf industry in a number of ways.

Golf Health Facts

There have been numerous studies to determine the exact impact a round of golf has on physical fitness.  As a society, people are exercising less and becoming more overweight and obese.  While golf does not provide high impact movement similar to other sports, golf still offers an excellent opportunity to maintain health.
According to a study conducted by the National Golf Foundation, 34% ofU.S.population is within a healthy weight, 33% are overweight and 33% of the population is obese.  Among the golfing population, 27% of golfers are within their normal weight range, 46% of the population is overweight while 27% of the golfing population is obese.

Golf Cart Usage

In 1984, 45% of rounds were played with a motorized cart.  By 2002, cart usage rose to 66% and in 2006 increased to 69%.  In 2006, only 30% of rounds were walked.  Today, the majority of golfers use a motorized golf cart.  In fact, some areas and courses estimate cart usage is over 90%.  According to administrative staff at facilities inMyrtle Beach, walking rounds are non-existent.  It is estimated 95% of rounds at specific facilities are with riding cart.  However, there are still clubs that promote the original traditions of the game.  Some facilities restrict cart usage until specific times of the day while others require walking at all times.  Clubs that require walking are in the minority.

Older courses were typically built on less than 100 acres and made walking convenient.   They typically have short walks between the green and next tee box.  New courses often stretch between 160 and 260 acres where homes and communities are constructed between hole locations.  It is common for long walks between holes making it difficult for walking.  Therefore, many newer courses are not suitable for walking while others restrict walking altogether.

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Annually the golf industry produces approximately 2 million jobs and generates over 75 billion in revenue.  Golf facilities are designed to generate cart revenue and encourage golfers to ride.  Golf facilities expect to drive a profit and what better way than mandatory cart fees.

Calories Burned Through Golf

Many believe walking is more beneficial than riding in a cart, but how effective is a round of golf on physical fitness?  On average, you walk the equivalent of five miles during an 18-hole round of golf.  In addition, a four hour round of golf is similar to a two hour singles match of tennis.  A scientific study sought to find how calories are burned during a typical round of golf.  Walking and carrying your clubs or pushing a cart burned approximately 1440 calories while walking with a caddy burn nearly 1250 calories.

On the other hand, those that preferred to ride burned approximately 820 calories.  Indirectly, they still walked nearly a mile during the round.   Even players who fail to make it to the course can still burn a few calories playing Nintendo Wii golf.  It is estimated a 175 pound man could burn 150 calories playing wii golf for 45 minutes while a 125 pound woman could burn approximately 100 calories in that same time frame.


Matt Keller, PGA

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1 comment

    • Ledley King on March 2, 2013 at 8:58 am
    • Reply

    If you were to get in a car right now and travel around the united states, for every 10 people you’d encounter, 7 of them will be obese, (US Health stat is 69% of americans qualify as obese) making it all the more important to promote the health and vitalizing properties of walking in golf (and walking generally). I believe part of the ‘dumbed down’ statistics related to obesity (lower than the 6.9 out of 10 stat) might come from not looking overseas and world wide at body mass index, in which case if you did it would be entirely obvious the average American lookes ‘quite diffent’ body composition wise than the average plantary civilian ☺

    I think there’s also some interesting tidbits from walking, verse cart driving, that might be worth looking into. The increased vigilance from the walk itself (on sensory perception) as well as the stress reduction capabilities may actually facilitate better play depending on the individual. I also think that golf and walking might be a good health upkeep mechanism, which, if walking and playing golf is a routine sustained throughout life, will have a beneficial and slowing process on aging generally! Other positives in the form of walking may come from the increased mindfulness it brings – you are spending a longer time on the course, and are open to appreciating the game more (the beautiful of the course, the sounds and sensations of the scenic views, etc).

    So decreased stress, lower heart rate, exercise enhances performance on short term memory tasks, also lowering of bad forms of cholesterol, increased max oxygen capacility, etc – the benefits of exercise (and thus walking) are infinite.

    As a last aside, I’m not certan it’s a cureall (walking over driving that is) – people who have a tendency to overthink may perform better if their brain is confronted with the next shot faster than if it has a chance to ruminate due to the long walk to the next ball (thus the ability to get the ‘yips’ may be less, again depending on the individual, if cart driving is used).

    To Each his Own!

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