Are Golf Carts Destroying the Sport?

Golf Cart Adrian RubinToday’s culture seems to have a constant push and pull between that of a completely sedentary lifestyle and an obsession with physical activity. Our days are jam packed with constant sitting – at work in front of a screen, in the car on your daily commute, and at home in front of the TV. This lack of movement is clearly leading to the obesity epidemic, but it’s also fueling a reaction to encourage movement. Which brings me to a central point about golf. Some people think of golf as a slow paced activity that doesn’t come close to working you out as hard as a great game of basketball or a vigorous bike ride. And with the pervasive “cart culture”, we are losing even more opportunities to exercise on the green.

Nowadays, many people look at golf as a passive leisure-time activity and are reluctant to even call it a sport.

Of course I disagree, when you consider the training, discipline and skill that goes into the game – cart or no cart. However, Allison Aubrey of NPR’s Morning Edition recently spent some time on a golf course – sligo Creek golf Course in Silver Spring  Maryland to find out how much exercise one actually gets when golfing. She spent time collecting information that quantifies just how much exercise golf provides for its participants both with and without the use of a golf cart.

According to the World Golf Foundation an 18 hole course can burn up to 2,000 calories and provide about 5 miles of walking for golfers who choose to forgo the use of a golf cart. According to this reporter’s own experience, she witnessed the effort it takes to carry one’s clubs, traverse the green, and the movement and focused intensity involved in actually playing the game. Well-executed swings involve the whole body and require a lot of power. Physically you are hinging and rotating the torso while generating an explosion with your muscles.

There’s no question that this is a physically demanding sport even if it may not have the same wow factor as a football game. However, it is worth noting that currently two thirds of the golf played in the US takes place on courses with golf carts. And while golfers who opt for these motorized modes of transportation are still getting exercise, it does cut back on the number of calories burned. While some argue the negative aspect of golf carts, there is something to be said for the fact that they enable elderly and injured people the chance to play a sport that they might not be able to otherwise.

So for the non-believers in the health benefits of playing golf,  hard data proves time and time again that golf is great for all with or without a cart.