With just over two weeks until The Masters and Daylight Savings Time giving us some extra sun, hopefully you’re all just itching to hit the links. I’ve added more course time to my daily regimen, but this year I decided to throw a little curve into my style of play. I’ve been walking my rounds. A lot of my rounds. Pretty much all of them. And you know what? It’s been great. I’m enjoying the game more than I usually do. I’m playing better than I do when I take a cart, and for a few peaceful hours my normally shook hornet’s nest of a brain isn’t cluttered with a bunch of useless chatter repeating itself infinitely. It’s been some of the best golf I’ve ever played, and I highly recommend it.
In the interest of my somewhat intact reputation, I should clarify that I’ve yet to become one of those guys that owns a $500 push cart who isn’t aware that tee times exist after 7:30 a.m. I’ll still take a cart, because this is 2017 and if there’s a piece of technology that’s going to make my life easier, I’m damn well going to use it. Golf carts have their purpose. Beer rounds with your buddies? Take a cart. You don’t want to carry that 30 rack yourself. Playing with more than just one person? Take a cart so you can quickly drive to each person’s shot and talk all the necessary shit about your playing partner’s game. Playing between the months of May through September? Take a cart so I don’t have to drag your corpse off fairway when you have a heatstroke on the third hole.
But if you’re by yourself, it’s just you and another guy, or for God’s sake if it’s cart path only, give walking a shot. Hoofing it has some distinct advantages over taking a cart. For one, it’ll slow you down and force you to actually enjoy the round for a change. Whenever I’m by myself in a cart, my round inevitably devolves into a sprint to see either how many holes I can get through or how fast I can finish. Neither of those are a partner to lower scores. Walking keeps you in a steady rhythm, which keeps your swing in a steady rhythm.
Walking also keeps your mind sharper. Taking a cart always causes my brain to switch off and go into automatic mode. I get lazy, I start focusing more on what’s going on on my phone than on the course, and my give a shit meter breaks by the turn. But if I walk, I stay engaged. I’ll think more about what sort of shot I want to hit, and I’ll do a better job of self diagnosing my swing and how I need to correct it. All because I’m walking instead of sitting on my ass driving around the course and slapping a golf club every couple of seconds.
I know this is hard to believe, but walking is also a little bit quicker too. If you’re playing with just one other person, you’re absolutely going to play faster if you’re each walking separately to your shots than if you’re in a cart constantly driving back and forth, especially if it’s cart path only. I’ll say that again because none of my members believe me, especially if it’s cart path only. Plus, adding a walking round into your playing every once in a while just might be that minimal amount of exercise you’ve been looking for to motivate you to do more. Maybe you’ll start seeing more of your junk and less of your beer gut when you look down in the shower every morning.
Maybe most importantly, walking is just a lot more pleasant. You feel better when you walk off that last green because you stay moving rather than constantly getting in and out of a cart, plus you’re away from all the distractions a cart provides. I know that sounds stupid, but when you don’t have to think about what cubby hole on the cart you left your glove in or your phone or driving or any of that crap, all you have to do is think about moving one foot in front of the other. It’s pretty damn peaceful.
Like I said, don’t expect to see me out there in cargo pants and a boonie hat pushing a four figure bag carrier any time soon; I still have a deep appreciation for the golf cart and its absolute necessity, but I will definitely be pausing for a minute when I pick up my bag to decide how I want to make my way around the course..
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