Talking Point: Carts vs Calves

Global Golfer’s Australia Editor, Danny Bowerin argues that we should all abandon the golf cart in favor of a good long walk…

American writer Mark Twain famously said golf was a “good walk spoiled.”

Too many golfers seem to have taken him literally because wherever I play these days more people are riding golf carts than walking the course.

Carts vs Calves
More and more golfers are taking the cart

It’s never good to stereotype, but it’s fair to say that most golfers riding carts look the ones who could do with the exercise.

I’m all for having a choice but give me a fairway to walk down over a cart path any day.

Courses are for walking
To me, golf courses are meant for walking and roads and race tracks for driving.

Modern golf course designers even build courses now with buggies in mind.

So many of them have vast walks between tees and greens which is no problem if you have your foot down in a cart.

Carts = $
Of course, cart hire equates to profits and golf course operators promote the message that carts speed up play because it means more green fees and greater yield per green fee.

I can see that for some people a cart can even be a blessing.

Golf carts at Carroll Valley, P.A, USA
Carts = cash for golf course operators

Lifesaver for older golfers
If you are an older golfer and you have physical ailments like bad knees or arthritis, then taking a cart could keep you playing years after your legs have given up.

But, there’s no excuse for those able bodied golfers who’d rather press the accelerator than pound turf.

Dan Bowerin says it's good to walk
"It's good to walk" argues Danny Bowerin

When I arrive at a new course, I always want to know: “Is this course walkable?”

The answer is usually yes, but when I’m walking it’s not unusual for people to stare at me as if I have three heads.

It’s not just the obvious health benefits that keep me walking. It’s the entire experience.

I’ve just returned from a weekend’s golf on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula and, as strange as it sounds, I know I’ve played golf.

Let me explain.

I played three rounds of golf as buggy driver and passenger a few weeks ago and afterwards my body didn’t feel like it had been golfing.

Sure, I’d hit shots, chips, pitches and putts, but it felt empty, as if I hadn’t had to strive to shoot a good 18-hole round.

I find taking a buggy boring.

Do buggies speed up play?
I’ve never seen any evidence that it speeds up play.

Buggies don’t look right on golf courses to me and I think they spoil the experience.

Golf should always be an experience.

That means feeling the terrain underfoot, the mild burning in your legs as you climb to an elevated tee and the joy of meandering along winding fairways with wind in your hair and sun on your skin.

It’s so satisfying when you reach the tee shot you’ve bombed 275 yards down the middle. It matters to me, all of it.

For most of us golf is a sociable game.

Conversation Killer
Riding in a cart kills conversation.

I love striding the fairways with friends. Golf is disarming. Conversation meanders. Two or three subjects can be explored simultaneously. Jokes are told. Lots of jokes.

Golf can be an opportunity to get things off your chest – to shake off your problems.

Those fourballs for a few pounds or dollars can also feature merciless ribbing and banter.

All these things are hard to enjoy when sitting in a buggy and you only have your co-pilot to chat to.

One of the worst things that can happen is when you decide to walk and your playing partners decide to ride. It can be a long lonely walk when your partners take a cart.

Long lonely walk to the green
It can be a lonely walk when your partner takes a cart

The last thing I like about walking is the feeling that you’ve earned a post-round drink.

Earn your trip to the 19th hole
After a cold winter’s day golfing, I love a steaming hot pot of tea.

On hot summer days nothing beats cold beer.

None of these tastes as good after four hours in a buggy as it does after a long walk.

I’m a traditionalist. I could be plain wrong.

Maybe I think this way because I grew up walking beautiful cliff-tops at Royal Cromer and on the hallowed links of St Andrews, two places I couldn’t imagine playing with a buggy.

If you have felt the tingling hum of a weather worn wind beaten face you’ll know what I mean when I say love your post-golf glow. That’s what I have right now.

It’ll soon be Monday morning and I’ll be at my desk again.

It’s a lot like sitting in a buggy.

3 thoughts on “Talking Point: Carts vs Calves”

  1. Fully agreed with the following exception……. If you’re on a stag weekend in say Dubai/Portugal , you’ve not been to bed and it’s already 30 degrees by the time you get to the course @ 9am. A buggy is essential if only to carry the 5 litres of water you need to stop you next trip being to the local hospital! Maybe we need more caddies at courses ruled by the buggy?

  2. Good article Bowerin. Australia has a real problem with carts. They dramatically slow play down as people don’t know how to use carts properly. The number of times I see someone sit in a cart watching their playing partner play a shot, replace their divot, get back in the cart and then drive 10 metres to the other ball. If people learnt to play ready-golf it would be fine.

    One problem is the climate – its pretty exhausting walking 18 holes in 30+ degree heat of Queensland


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