Walk, Pull, Ride: Pros And Cons Of The Different Ways You Can Pack Your Clubs During A Golf Outing

No matter how often you play golf by yourself, with your family or as part of a regular foursome, taking part in a golf outing can mean different ways of doing things. Even if you regularly carry your clubs, for example, you may wonder if you are required to take a cart during a tournament or group event. Here's what you need to know about transporting your clubs:

Going for a Walk

Carrying your clubs can increase the amount of exercise you get during your round. Studies show that people who play 18-hole rounds 3 to 5 times a week get the benefits of endurance exercise, which is great for your heart. But that doesn't help you make a decision for what to do in a tournament.

Here are some of the benefits of walking and carrying your bag:

  • Walking can help you pace yourself. You have plenty of time to think about your next shot and your strategy.
  • Without a ride-on or pull cart, you can get closer to the greens (most courses have rules about how close the carts can be to the greens).
  • Your clubs are always nearby if you decide to use a different club or need something out of your bag.

With a variety of lightweight carry bags that incorporate a stand, it's less taxing to carry your clubs. However, you may be putting additional strain on your back by carrying, especially if you don't do it properly.

Pulling Your Clubs

If you use a pull cart, you get all the benefits of walking without the strain to your back and knees of carrying a heavy bag. In fact, one small study showed that golfers who pull a cart burn almost as many calories as those who walk.

Last year, Stanford golf team members created a stir when they used pull carts at the NCAA Championships, going on to win the team and individual competitions. Opinion was divided on whether this was a terrible break with tradition or a smart move for athletes concerned about protecting their backs.

In addition, players in a study conducted by the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver scored best when using a pull cart -- nearly three strokes better than when riding in a cart. So it may make strategic sense to use a pull cart.

Taking a Ride-on Cart

Many golf tournaments, both formal and informal, have carts available for participants. If the other people in your group are all riding, you may feel like you should, particularly to keep the speed of play consistent.

One determining factor is how the course is designed. Some courses are best played in a cart, perhaps because of long distances between greens and the next tee.

Carts can also be the best choice in inclement weather. When you're playing informally, you can pass on play until the rain lets up, but in a planned golf outing, you have to play no matter the weather. Sheltered carts can keep your clubs -- and you -- much more dry.

In the end, a lot of the choice comes down to personal preference and what makes sense for the conditions. Walk, pull or ride -- you're still outside, enjoying a great golf outing.