How many of you walk when playing the golf course, how many ride, and how many do a little of both? Up to about age 28, you couldn't have forced me into a golf cart. Since then ... well, it wasn't just marriage that put all these extra pounds on me.
Doug Pike's weekly golf notebook in the Houston Chronicle has some good information about the benefits of walking while golfing, plus a list of courses in the Houston area that are considered easy walks.
There's much speculation about why fewer and fewer golfers walk. In some sense, it's chicken-and-egg: do today's golfers walk less than those of 15 years ago because they got fat, or did they get fat because they no longer walk while golfing?
I grew up in Corpus Christi, where, for most of my time there, there were only two courses in the city open to the public. The cart fee was equal to the green fee, and we didn't have any money back then. So we always walked. The Corpus Christi courses had push carts available, but we carried our bags.
Then I moved to San Antonio. A couple things changed: I got older and started putting on pounds. The courses here are much hillier - not to mention longer - than the ones in Corpus Christi. But I still walked more often than not for my first couple years in San Antonio.
The real "problem" is this: it's just too easy to take a cart. Most daily fee courses these days include any cart fee in the greens fee; you automatically get a cart, in other words. Some still discount for walkers, but many don't. You pay the same price whether you use the cart or not. Hey, if I'm paying for it, I'm using it. And over time, the idea of walking gets lost. The less you walk, the less you want to walk.
I don't mean to sound like one of those fuddy-duddies bemoaning the diminishing role of walking in golf. There's nothing magical about walking as opposed to riding - I have no patience for those people who see something mystical in golf.
But, c'mon, all of us need to do a little more walking, if for no other reason than our well-being. And how can golf courses help? There are two very simple things:
1. Have at least a handful of push carts available, and put them in a place to be noticed by golfers walking to the clubhouse. Most daily fee courses no longer provide the option of renting a push cart.
2. Provide some sort of discount, even if it's only a small one, for golfers who prefer not to use a cart.
See, told you they were simple. Anyone who wants a cart won't be dissuaded from using one. But those people who used to walk and want to start walking more might get the impetus they need.