Fairways and Footsteps: The Choice Between Walking and Riding

fairways and footsteps

Golfers often find themselves at a crossroads when deciding whether to walk or use a golf cart during their round. Both options have their merits, offering unique experiences and benefits that cater to different preferences. In this post, we’ll learn the details, pros, and cons. Stay tuned or jump to the end for some recommendations on how to level up your experience on the course, regardless of your choice or preference.

Many golf courses encourage players to use golf carts instead of walking the course, and the reasons extend beyond mere convenience. One of the primary motivators is revenue generation. Renting a golf cart can be a significant additional income stream for golf facilities, sometimes even rivaling the green fees. Furthermore, carts speed up the pace of play, allowing more golfers to complete their rounds in less time. This faster turnover can enable a course to accommodate more players per day, thereby increasing daily revenue.

Besides financial considerations, golf carts offer accessibility, making the game more inclusive. This opens up and extends longevity for those who might find it physically challenging to walk the course. While purists may argue that walking is an integral part of the game, cart usage has economic and logistical merit. Let’s delve further into the debate between walking and riding.

The Case for Walking

Walking the course is the traditional way of playing golf, dating back to the sport’s origins. There’s an undeniable charm to strolling along the fairways and experiencing the game in its purest form. Beyond the nostalgic appeal, there are compelling reasons to consider walking:

  • Health Benefits: Walking is an excellent form of exercise, promoting cardiovascular health, burning calories, and improving overall fitness. According to a study conducted by the World Golf Foundation, an average golfer who walks 18 holes burns approximately 1,500 calories. This equates to a rigorous workout that keeps you fit while enjoying your favorite game. Equivalent to a 3.5-4 mile run – if you are a FitBit users, that’s your 10,000 steps right there.
  • Enhanced Focus: Walking allows players to immerse themselves in the game, fostering a deeper connection with the course. The leisurely pace encourages better shot selection and strategy, improving performance. According to one study – walking leads to better scores. Golf Digest highlights this exciting study here.
  • Cost-Effective: Many courses charge extra for cart usage. Walking can make your round of golf more economical.
  • Eco-Friendly: Walking reduces your carbon footprint, as you’re not relying on gasoline-powered golf carts. This choice aligns with the growing trend of eco-consciousness in sports and leisure activities.

The Case for Using a Golf Cart

Conversely, using a golf cart offers convenience and speed, catering to golfers who prefer a more relaxed approach to the game. Here are some reasons why golf carts have gained popularity:

  • Time Efficiency: Golf carts significantly reduce the time spent moving between holes, enabling players to complete their rounds more quickly. This can be especially advantageous for those with time constraints.
  • Reduced Fatigue: Walking an 18-hole course can be physically demanding, especially on hot or hilly terrain. Golf carts spare players from exhaustion, allowing them to focus solely on their shots. Still burns 400-500 calories.
  • Accessibility: Golf carts accommodate players with mobility issues, enabling them to enjoy the game without limitations. This inclusivity is a crucial aspect of modern golf courses.
  • The Social Factor: Beyond the practical benefits, riding in a golf cart can also serve as a social activity. Sharing a cart with a fellow golfer allows you to chat, share insights, and offer advice on shots, fostering a sense of camaraderie and friendship that can enrich your golfing experience.
  • Technology: Many courses equip their carts with GPS maps, reducing your reliance on your own GPS, Rangefinder or, dare I say, yardage book!
golf cart

Enhance Your Experience

Whether you’re a fan of walking or prefer the convenience of a golf cart, your golfing experience can be elevated with the right accessories. Here are some ideas and recommendations:


  • Golf Bags: A lightweight and comfortable golf bag is essential for those who choose to walk. Walkers should look for models with ergonomic straps and ample storage space for clubs, balls, and accessories. There are multiple variants of both stand and carry bags to consider. You may opt for a larger cart bag if you choose to ride.
  • Push Carts: Walking doesn’t have to mean carrying your bag on your shoulder. Push carts provide a convenient way to transport your bag without straining your back. Highlight models with sturdy frames and easy maneuverability.
  • Golf Shoes: You’ll want a supportive pair of golf shoes. My choice is Squairz, the only shoe that claims to change your game, named the most stable golf shoe by MyGolfSpy. Check out our “Five Golf Shoes for Fall Fairways,” for more recommendations.
  • Rangefinder: A quality rangefinder provides precise distance measurements, improving your club selection and boosting your confidence in each shot. It also speeds up the pace of play by reducing guesswork and decision-making time. Our recommendation is the 2023 PGA Best of Show winner, CaddyTalk Cube. Check out our “Best Rangefinders 2023” list.
  • Wearables: Consider using wearable technology such as a FitBit to measure activity.

Take it Further

  • Massage Tools: I spoiled myself with the Vyper Vibrating Foam Roller and love it for my feet and back.
  • Golf-specific insoles for your shoes: Currex is producing a high-quality golf-specific insert.
  • Golf Journal: Whether you walk or ride, Journal 18 is the perfect tool for serious golfers to record and analyze their rounds and shots, helping to identify areas of improvement and ultimately lower your handicap. Fits right in your back pocket – check them out!

Key Takeaways

  • Walking promotes cardiovascular health, burns calories, and improves overall fitness. An average golfer who walks 18 holes burns approximately 1,500 calories.
  • Walking allows players to immerse themselves in the game, fostering a deeper connection with the course and encouraging better shot selection and strategy.
  • Many courses prefer carts due to financial benefits, perception of increased pace of play, and turnover.
  • Golf carts significantly reduce the time spent moving between holes, enabling players to complete their rounds more quickly, which can be advantageous for those with time constraints.
  • Golf carts accommodate players with mobility issues, making the game more inclusive and extending longevity for those who might find it physically challenging to walk the course.
  • Whether you walk or use a golf cart, your experience can be elevated with the right accessories, such as lightweight golf bags, push carts, wearable technology, supportive golf shoes, rangefinders, and golf journals.

Wrap-Up: Walking and Riding

With the right accessories, every round can be tailored to suit individual needs and styles. Remember that golf is a game deeply rooted in tradition, and each player’s choice to walk or ride can be a personal one influenced by various factors, including health, the pace of play, and the specific course challenges. Golf courses that offer both options are best positioned to meet the diverse needs of their clientele, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the game in the most fulfilling manner.

Further Reading

For more of our favorite golf reads, check out our “Best Golf Audiobooks” for must-reads and listens.

Walking vs Riding
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