26 Mar The Case for Walking
You stand your bag next to the first tee box, place your ball on the tee, and hit a beautiful fade down the fairway. The ball rolls through the fairway, past the first cut, and into the rough. You pick up your bag and proceed to where you think the ball rolled into the tall grass. As you walk down the center of the fairway you feel how firm and fast the fairways are. You make it to the rough and notice your feet are wet from some rough sprinklers, and that the rough itself is pretty thick. You club up to deal with the heavy, wet, and thick grass and hit a beautiful approach shot just past the flag. You continue to walk up the fairway to the green. You drop your bag and walk across the green. As you walk, you feel the subtle inclines underneath as you head past the cup to your ball. You fix your ball mark* and have a beautiful read of the breaks to pin. You hit a perfect putt, holing it for a birdie. You grab your bag and walk to the next hole head held high, prepped for a good game ahead.
From the simple act of forgoing a cart and deciding to walk the course, one learns a tremendous amount about course conditions that is totally lost while riding. Walking grounds you, literally, to the game and the course that being in a cart deprives one of. When I walk, I’m learning so much about how the course is playing that is unseen when I ride along a cart path, or even when I’m cruising down the middle of the fairway. Sure, I can see my ball roll quickly through the first cut and end in the rough, but I won’t know if it was partly do to the firm, fast fairways or I just hit a burner of a ball. I’ll still get to see the rough is wet, and I might want to club up, but I wouldn’t know if it’s just this little patch of rough or the entire hole. When you pull up to the green, very few people take the time to walk their putt, and learn valuable information to the inclines and dips on the putting surface. Hell, some people putt with the pin in now and are relying solely on the ability to view a green from one static position. Walking a course adds so much information to the shot selection and the read of a course that can only benefit the golfer. We are all for using rangefinders that cost hundreds, but refuse to walk a course. Not only will you save money on cart fees, but you’ll gather more information on a course than we get strictly from using our eyes.
Walking a course envelopes me completely. I am engaged directly with my game and the nature of the course. My phone is away in the bag on my back, completely inaccessible as I walk. In a cart, it would be in the cup holder staring me in the face. I never have that moment where I bring the wrong clubs for a shot and refuse to walk all the way back to the cart, because it’s cart path only and I’m one of the few people that take that rule seriously. For real, please don’t be one of those entitled members who feel they can disregard the no carts its wet rule, it’s absolutely awful for the grass. I also don’t buy the whole it’s ‘faster for the game if everyone drives’ argument. Maybe if everyone is hitting it in the same spot, but if I have to drive to a left side fairway bunker and wait for you to hit; meanwhile I’m all the way over in the right side rough, when I could have been waiting at my ball surveying my shot choices is bonkers. Yes, there are some courses that are so spread out that a cart is a necessary evil, but they always pale in comparison to the the ability to walk a course.
“Walking grounds you, literally, to the game and the course that being in a cart deprives one of.”
I’m sure people are thinking, “Get off your high horse of golf purity. Carts hold my cooler of beer, my case of 24 beater balls I scooped out of the river, and my stereo. I’ll drive it wherever I please.” Those are the same people that tend to complain that the fairways are trampled and greens covered in ball marks, but will continually drive over those same tracks creating the very dead spots they complain about. They will almost certainly forget their ball mark repair tool in the cart as well. Please just don’t get me started on the lack of respect of the 90 Degree Rule.
If you have a handicap milestone like being a low 90’s player and want to break into the 80’s, and you primarily ride, give walking a try. If you’re someone that is trapped in a corporate cubicle and use golf as an escape, give walking a try. Walking only elevates the game of golf. Golfing is probably the only sport where people refuse to get sweaty while playing, and drive from shot to shot with noses in their phones. Give walking a try. Or if you just love golf and want to see a golf course flourish and be that lush green, you spend every night dreaming about. You know – those beautifully straight fairway mow lines and that plush rough. I suggest you stop riding and give walking a try.
I’m not trying to disparage carts, but, in a way, I am. Walk.
Eric MacPherson knows a lot about golf, but even more about grass. Having worked in golf for what seems like forever, and going on to graduate school in turfgrass, he’s able to walk mow a green, and change the shaft in your favorite driver. He’s worked on some of the east coast’s primer golf clubs doing everything from washing carts to building brand new putting greens. He’s also volunteered at several high profile Tour events including a major and the President’s Cup. The only thing he likes more than pushing a walk mower on a beautiful crisp morning, would be teeing it off instead. Shoot Eric a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.