Walk or Ride? Hoof It!

Golf Carts and Slow Play?

Ha! One of my most beloved pet peeves has been addressed beautifully in an article I read today, which takes up the “walk or ride in a golf cart” question, and it’s inferred sub-heading of slow play. It’s about time somebody quantified the question. This author claims, statistically, that riding in a golf cart is slower than walking. It doesn’t appear to make sense, but with all of the variables, it does. I won’t reiterate all my complaints about past rounds where less experienced players in my party were to told to hurry up, and I had to hurry up with them. By the time I finished, I felt as though they owed me money to play their course.

walk 2 Consider the golf cart path. On some courses, it looks like the road to Hobbitsville, winding, turning, and criss-crossing the hills and dales of the Shire before reaching its destination. When you ride, with two people per cart, something is always amiss that delays departure time. Then, you set out on the cart path and, if you’re allowed, make a huge right angle to reach one ball, then another somewhere else. When four people walk to four balls, it’s the most direct route possible.
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When I ride, I get there too fast. I haven’t even assessed where I might be, and what I might do about it. Not only that, but my partner has been talking to me about stock options, his new girl friend, or his upcoming trip to the Northwest Territories. By the time I reach my ball, I don’t know which end of the stick to hold. If we had walked off on separate journeys to find the respective balls, I might have been spared all of that. He could go as far into the rough as he likes, and I could head off in the other direction, to the other side of the woods.

I don’t know about your group, but in mine, my three partners are infatuated with the beer lady, who stops in with surprising frequency just as we’re all boarding our carts to take off. Beside the fact that she has a grandfather younger than any of us, she’s chatty, and has a variety of brands to offer. Somehow, when I’m on the cart, I feel obligated to converse. When I walk, my entire being screams of “Don’t bother me. This shot’s for all the marbles.”
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When I ride, what I’ve eaten for breakfast or lunch only gets moved around like furniture. None of it goes away. Riding does not change my heartbeat or my aerobic profile one bit, not one, unless of course Fred is driving. Then, it’s a rehash of the French Connection. When I walk, I feel as if I’ve used every muscle I was supposed to use, and that my body thanks me for it. Not only that, but I feel the effects for the rest of the day, and I sleep better. The only exception to that is when we wait for ten minutes on every hole for the group in front to putt out, then some official tells us we’re too slow. Beside the calories burned in anger, the following holes turn into a footrace, something out of an Adam Sandler movie.

Sometimes the cart we’re riding in is gas-powered. That has its own problems. Sometimes, it’s electric, but the batteries were personally installed by Thomas Edison, and by the second nine, we’re moving at the speed of a glacier. Some have only one wheel in front, and I’m sure that Fred is going to kill me one day by drowning me in the lake on 7. I know he wants to.


The bliss of walking, something Westerners generally don’t do  enough, is the joy of having those conversations you want to have while reaching your ball – or not. It’s the time to feel, smell, and hear nature. It’s time to think and prepare. Just because you’re not in the Masters doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to line it up in your mind and play the best you can.

So, walk or ride? No contest, in my opinion. My feet need it, my lungs need it, my brain and spirit need it. Shun the beer lady and save the cart for another time.

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