Study Reveals: Walk Smarter, Not Harder

Stewart Golf Ambassador ‘The Jazzy Golfer’ using her Q Follow Caddie

If like me your January health kick is already starting to wane, and the thought of heading back up to the gym offers you no joy, then the results of a recent study will be music to your ears!

I started playing golf a couple of years ago now. As someone who grew up playing soccer two or three times a week, I needed a new outlet for my competitive spirit and golf provided the perfect life and leisure balance.

“My new year’s health plan is simple: play more golf! It really is the best exercise regime I’ve ever come up with.”

James Clough

The sport offered me a new challenge. More mental resilience was needed than in my soccer days but what I had failed to realise, and what has come as a pleasant surprise, was how good golf was for me physically.

It turns out the average golfer can burn anywhere from 1,400 to 3,000 calories every 18 holes – depending on the gender, size and build of the golfer, and assuming they are walking.

Initially, this sounded too good to be true: 20 minutes on the treadmill would probably burn off a couple hundred calories, but almost certainly feel like I was doing ‘more’ exercise than a leisurely round of golf. But, when you think about it, an average golf course is upward of 3.5 miles. That’s before you factor in zigzagging around the course and searching for wayward shots in the rough. It all adds up.

So, there it is. My new, new year’s health plan is simple: play more golf. It really is the best exercise regime I’ve ever come up with.

What’s more, a new study led by Dr Graeme Close, a Professor of Human Physiology and Dr Andrew Murray, Chief Medical Officer for the PGA European Tour (not the three-time tennis grand-slam winner) has dispelled the myth that carrying your clubs is the best (often cited as the only meaningful) exercise that golf offers.

In fact the study, which has now been published in the European Journal of Sport Science, found that carrying your clubs actually consumed fewer calories than pushing a caddie and only marginally more than using a remote-controlled electric caddie (a Stewart Golf Follow caddie was used for the study).

The team not only collected research on Activity Energy Expenditure (AEE) – that’s the calorie part for you and me – but also studied the Ratings of Perceived Energy (RPE) and level of enjoyment, via a post-round scoring system. Despite the trivial differences in AEE between the three playing methods, significant differences were reported in RPE. Using the electric caddie was the only method scored as “very easy” with regards to perceived exertion by participants, with almost 80% scoring it “moderate” or less, compared to just 37% and 31% of participants for pushing and carrying, respectively.

Effectively, what this study has finally showed us is that the best exercise comes from walking the course and playing your shots, not from lugging your clubs around. What’s more, using your Stewart Golf electric trolley won’t diminish the quality of exercise your round brings you, but it will significantly impact how good you feel throughout and at the end of your round.

To those like me, who have made the switch from carrying to using a Stewart Golf electric trolley, the results of the RPE test will come as no surprise. On the odd occasion I have to play without my Q Follow, I have a noticeable drop-off in energy come the final holes. In fact, pretty much from the first tee box I find myself ‘psyching’ myself out, because I consider myself already at a disadvantage without the freedom of my electric trolley.

Unsurprisingly, the added perceived freshness plus the mental clarity add up to better, more consistent golf and lower scores. The science backs this up further, carrying and pushing not only had much higher perceived effort levels, but playing with these methods led to increased fluctuations in heart rate. Bad news when you’re trying to sink that nervy three-footer for par!

Like any golfer, good or bad, I’m always looking for those little differences that can save me a couple of shots per round. This study proves that using an electric trolley can help you do that, without sacrificing the health benefits of playing the sport. At the end of the day, who doesn’t want that?