If you swing your clubs well you’ll keep your golf score as low as possible. But if you take the right steps, you can also help keep your weight as low as possible by playing golf. Golf can’t replace intense aerobic exercise, but the game lets you do plenty of walking, so you’ll enjoy a good workout if you ditch the cart and hike up and down the course on your own two feet.
If you drive or ride in a motorized cart when you play golf you miss out on a great deal of walking. Additionally, if you leave your golf bag on the cart you expend less energy than the player who carries her bag from hole to hole. As a result, you’ll burn fewer calories by using a cart. According to Harvard Medical School, a 125-pound golfer who uses a cart burns 210 calories per hour. You’ll burn 260 calories if you weigh 155 pounds and 310 calories if you weigh 185 pounds.
Pulling Your Clubs
Securing your clubs in a small, wheeled pull-cart is a good compromise between riding in a motorized cart and slinging your golf bag over your shoulder and carrying your clubs across the course. You won’t realize quite as much caloric burn as someone who does carry her clubs, but pulling your bag offers a much better workout than riding in a cart. According to the NutriStrategy.com website, a 130-pound golfer burns 254 calories every 60 minutes if she pulls her clubs. You’ll burn 317 calories if you weigh 155 and 368 per hour if you weigh 180 pounds.
You can burn a few extra calories by doing things the old-fashioned way and carrying your clubs from start to finish. The Harvard Medical School reports that you’ll burn 330 calories per hour by carrying your clubs if you weigh 125 pounds, 410 calories if you weigh 155 pounds and 488 calories if you weigh 185 pounds. In other words, you’ll burn more than 50 percent more calories by carrying your clubs as opposed to riding in a cart. And you’ll burn roughly one-third more calories if your carry your clubs rather than pulling them, according to the Harvard numbers.
Somewhat in contrast to the Harvard statistics, a 2009 study by Neil Wolkodoff of the Rose Center for Health & Sports Medicine found that golfers didn’t burn many extra calories by carrying bags rather than pulling them. The study’s participants burned an average of 721 calories while carrying their clubs for nine holes, and 718 while pulling their bags. Additionally, the study reported that participants who hired a caddy to carry their clubs still burned 613 calories per nine holes, while golfers who rode in motorized carts burned 411 calories. The test subjects were men who averaged 200 pounds each, so a typical woman’s caloric burn will be lower. You must burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound, so depending on your current weight, you'll probably have to play six to eight nine-hole rounds to lose 1 pound.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.