OK I confess. I played my first round of 18 holes this year this week, and - I took a cart.🤦🏼♀️ But look, it was my first full round this season, I had strained my back (no, really, I did), and I was playing a new course. Also, everyone I was playing with was riding, so I followed the crowd. Everyone said the course was “tough to walk” and that I should take a cart. Who was I to argue?
At the end of the round, I was not unhappy about my choice. It was actually a tough course to walk. Impossible? No. But since I did want to ease my way back into golf shape, I was fine riding in a cart. But I did have a little pang of guilt at the end. It's fine if I choose to ride, but feeling like I did it because that’s what everyone else was doing reminded me of why it took me so long to start walking in the first place.
For the recreational golfer, the round of golf is as much about the people you are with as it is about the score at the end of the round. You don’t want to be the one holding the foursome up. You’re hoping you don’t lose too many balls. Basically, you don’t want to embarrass yourself. So you follow the crowd. Which is totally normal and fine.
But even so, every time I followed the group, I’d say to myself “next round I’ll walk” or “I just need to get into better shape and I’ll walk”. So the reality was I was lining up all the reasons why I SHOULD NOT walk the course. When I needed to commit to why I SHOULD walk the round.
As I became more comfortable with my own personal game and walking became my default choice, I’d sometimes have to remind myself why. So here are a few reminders I use to keep myself honest and motivated to walk the round.
You’ll have a deeper sense of accomplishment after the round. This is a tough one for those who have never walked. But once you do, you’ll experience that feeling at the end. The feeling that you’ve conquered the course, regardless of your score. For some reason, it’s different when you finish on the 18th and walk off the course. You look back and remember each step, shot, and moment that made up that round. And that’s half the game of golf - the experience each round provides. Don’t take that away from yourself.
The experience on the course is completely different. With each step on the fairway you become more familiar with the course. You can see the slopes and curves of each hole easier. You feel the grass and soil under your feet. Without even trying or realizing it, you are more in tune with the course. In a cart, it isn’t the same experience. You’re placing the cart between balls for convenience, making sure you don’t cross the “no cart” lines, and watching out for divots and bumps not to plan your shot, but to not jostle the cart. By becoming more in tune and familiar with the course, you might just play a bit better.
It's calming. No really, it is. When I say this, most of my friends look at me like I’m crazy (I get that a lot) and ask how walking 4-5 miles can be “calming” to me. But once they do, after the round they agree. There’s a focus and a concentration that comes naturally when you are walking from shot to shot. There are minimal distractions on the course. (Unless you are unlucky enough to be in front of those guys with the music blaring - #22 of the most annoying things golfers do on the course. In that case, flag down the beverage cart and grab a beer. It’s going to be a long round.) Sometimes we forget how noisy everyday life is. Taking a walk through a natural, beautifully manicured environment can recenter you.
While those are all unscientific reasons, they are helpful reminders for me each time I’m deciding if I’m going against my default status of walking to hop in a cart. Hopefully those help you fight the peer pressure and make the right decision for yourself each round.