Walking The Teal Way To Play If You Are One of The Many Frustrated Walking Golfers Who Have Been Told, Ride or Get Lost, Have Hope. Change Could Be On The Way

Recently on vacation, I phoned a Golf course and asked them about their policy on walking. The lady working in the pro shop quickly replied, “We are not a walking course sir.” Her tone implied that a course that prohibits walking is obviously far superior to one where walking is allowed.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have experienced something like this. Last year in California, after being told that “there is no rule against walking,” I tried to convince the course marshal to let us walk. I told him I was perfectly fine with paying the green fee with cart included but that I would much prefer to walk if their rules permitted.

Golf and Walking

Clearly, the guy thought my wife and I were insane. Worried that we would slow down the speed of play, he assured us there was no way we would physically be able to walk the course. I tried to reassure him that neither of us would have a coronary event on the course. I also promised to scurry along as quickly as possible in order not to hold up play. This led to an incredibly long deliberation on the walkie-talkie with all the other employees within a few miles, during which you would think homeland security was being notified.

After a few tense moments, the verdict was in: “Sorry sir, why don’t you just ride today.” By this point I was becoming increasingly agitated and eager to play, so I dropped the issue and jumped in the cart. If you are one of the many frustrated walking Golfers who have been told: “Ride or get lost,”

Ride or Get Lost

Recently, the USGA has launched a dramatic appeal headlined “Declare Yourself a Walker,” which includes “The Walking Member Program.” The walking program was created to promote and sustain this vital tradition of the game. As part of the program, members sign an oath stating, “By signing this, I hereby give my oath that I will never ride in a Golf cart for a round of Golf unless it is forced upon me or I develop a physical condition which necessitates the use of a cart. Whenever given a choice, I will always walk.”

David Fay, USGA’s Executive Director boldly states, “We strongly believe that walking is the most enjoyable way to play Golf and that the use of carts is detrimental to the game. This negative trend needs to be stopped now before it becomes accepted that riding in a cart is the way to play Golf.” Hopefully, the efforts of the USGA and other organizations, Golf courses, and individuals who see walking as the preferable means of getting around the course can reverse this trend and will encourage more courses to allow walking–a great boon for those of us who prefer to enjoy the game on foot.

In high tourist destinations such as Hawaii, California, and Florida it has become increasingly difficult to find courses where walking is permitted. Unfortunately, in many of these locations, a mandatory cart policy has become the accepted norm. Personally, I have found that in Hawaii, finding a course where walking is allowed can be a serious challenge.

Most resort courses today subscribe to the mandatory cart policy for the sake of speeding up the game. However, this logic is inaccurate. While you may be hard pressed to find a motorized Golf cart in Scotland, you will not have to look hard for Golfers playing at a much quicker pace. According to The Royal and Ancient Rule Book, the governing body of Golf in Europe, “a round of Golf for four on an 18-hole course should take between three and three-and-a-half hours.” In contrast, at many of the resort courses in the US–where carts are mandatory–a three hour round is simply unheard of

Luckily, unlike some of the cart-obsessed courses I have encountered across the country, some courses specifically emphasize walking as a fundamental aspect of the game. Winter Park Country Club in Winter Park, FL is described by the club’s head Professional, Brendon Elliot, as a “True walking Golf course” which is, as he emphasizes, a “true rarity” these days.

Although the course does have a few carts, they are used in accordance with the USGA’s walking program: only by those Golfers who are physically unable to walk the course. The average age of Winter Park’s members? No fewer than 70 years, according to Elliot, which is no doubt a testament to the fact that walking helps keep Golfers healthy and fit.

For many Golfers, walking has always been an enjoyable part of the game. And now an increasing number of medical studies clearly illustrate that walking provides significant health benefits as well. The Web site WalkingGolf.com cites many studies that, in particular, illuminate the health benefits of walking while playing Golf.

The Northern Ohio Golf Association publication “Fairways” points out that walking a Golf course is equivalent to a 3-or 4-mile walk, taking into account hills and inclines around tees and greens.

As a fitness professional, I am very aware of players with medical disabilities that prevent them from walking. The use of a Golf cart for these individuals is worthwhile and should be preserved, so that they can continue to enjoy the sport. For the vast majority of other players, one should consider discovering the improved benefits of walking versus riding and reunite with the true spirit of the game.

Conclusion

Walking is the most basic, rudimentary part of Golf, promoting both functional movement patterns and good health. We can hope that the future brings more courses like Winter Park, and that the USGA’s Walking Member Program will encourage more courses around the country to allow and embrace this fundamental aspect of the game.

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