Carry, push or ride?

Since I started playing golf years ago, there has always been some debate over if and when to carry your clubs, use a trolley or ride in a buggy. That is accompanied by many views on health benefits from other golfers which shame you into begrudgingly walking. It sometimes feels to me, that if you take a buggy, you are old, injured or lazy. There is even a bit of a stigma that if you carry for 18 holes, it's a clear definition of your superior golfing ability.

I've heard plenty of sound arguments in my time, about why people choose not to ride in a buggy. One lady told me she likes to walk the course to 'feel' the undulations of the course so they don't catch her out. Another told me that it helps her to gauge the distance of the course rather than just racing up to the ball. And some simply told me it was to help them hit their weekly step target and keep fit.

Having already had one spinal surgery and currently awaiting the second, I consider myself well in the 'injured' category, yet also feel like I'm hiding behind that as ultimately, I like to use a buggy. It makes for a quicker round of golf and means I have much more energy throughout the round, particularly the last few holes. However, I took the question to my chiropractor/back specialist who gave me their view on the debate.

As a back specialist, the view was very much that regardless of the health benefits of steps and raising heart rate, carrying was to be avoided at all times. The weight of the clubs, even in double strapped carry bags, puts a significant compress force on your spine and impacts posture that could lead to a lifetime of back problems. But remember, this is a back specialist talking who see's these kind of injuries every day.

The back specialist also produced many stats about how pull carts vs push carts leave your body twisting and putting pressure on your back as your single arm reaches behind you and bares the force of the trolley and bag. Although there was no doubt that walking and staying active is a plus for everyone.

So what about other health benefits such as calorie burn? There have been many studies about the amount of calories burnt during a round of golf. Good news, 9 holes typically burns off about 700 calories. However, the information that is surprising is that it is almost negligible if you are carrying or pushing a cart. It appears that most of the exercise and calorie burn comes from the swinging of clubs (and swinging plenty of times if you're anything like me).

Ultimately it comes down to personal preference, but in summary, if this information is taken on, it is best to walk the course usinga push or power cart vs pulling or carrying your clubs.

I'll try to remember that next time I book a buggy.

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