Is golf really a sport or just a social game

Have you ever thought if riding a golf cart or walking with your gear could have any impact on your golf performance?

Or whether being in better shape would make you score better?

Actually, how many calories does one burn in a typical golf round?


Marbella Club Golf, Benahavís


How often you ask yourself whether golf is really a sport or just a social game? Perhaps Dr Neil Wolkodoff can help us.

Dr Neil Wolkodoff’s golf study

Dr Neil Wolkodoff, a sports medicine specialist at the Denver Center for Health and Sports Science investigated how golfers burn calories. 

Men ranging in age between 26 to 62 participated in his study. 

He divided them into golfers walking with a push cart, walking with a caddie, walking and carrying their golf bag, and riding in a golf cart.

The results were quite surprising. 

During a 9-hole round, those riding in a cart burned the lowest (as one might have expected), about 410 calories. The most energy was used when a golfer walked with a bag (720 calories) and when walked with a push cart (718 calories). 


The University of Pittsburgh

A similar study was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, in which it was established that the number of calories burned were at even higher rates than those shown in the Wolkodoff’s study. 1,000 calories for nine holes of walking and carrying, 750 for walking with a caddie and 650 for riding in a cart. 

In the full 18-hole field, the numbers could reach up to 2000 calories for players carrying their equipment. 

To put those numbers in perspective, during a 90-minute football match, you can burn around 1,200 calories. During 1,5 hours of tennis you can burn 1000 calories, and during an hour running an average of 700 calories.

Sounds hard to believe, doesn’t it?

A Swedish study two years ago concluded that golfers in Sweden lived five years longer than non-golfers. Let’s remember that nearly all golfers in Sweden walk with their gear rather than ride a cart.

¨One of the surprise realisations was that just swinging a golf club about 100 times uses up a significant amount of energy,¨ Wolkdoff said. 

”There are a lot of ways to define a sport. But we know that the golf swing uses almost every muscle group in the body. We know it uses a pretty significant amount of energy – not as much as running a 10K but more than people think.¨

Playing 18 holes of golf at Marbella Club Golf while pushing a cart twice a week shouldn’t replace an overall fitness regimen, but it could be a very worthy supplement. 


Jan Ove Tangen from the School of Sports

Jan Ove Tangen from the School of Sports and Recreation in Telemark in Norway came to similar conclusions as Wolkodoff. In his opinion, regular physical activity in adulthood and for the elderly, especially in the form of golf, extends life by several years. 


Elderly couple playing golf on Costa del Sol


In addition, long hours spent in the sun are conducive to the absorption of vitamin D, which plays a very important role in maintaining the proper structure and function of bones.

¨When playing golf, age is of no great importance, and a man spending time in the fresh air is less likely to get sick¨, said Tangen. His research shows that regular golfing extends life by several years. As a result, thanks to the physical activity of citizens, the Norwegian government saves over 20 billion EUR per year in their healthcare budget.

Golf is absolutely a sport!

Golf may not be as intense as playing football, running or cycling, but golf takes a lot more effort than it’s generally believed. During the 18-hole round, at least 6 kilometres are covered on foot (often over 10 km), and there are about 80 to 100 swings, which involve almost all parts of the muscles.

During a hit in the ball the head of the club reaches a speed of up to 100 km / h. Currently, golf clubs are getting lighter, but the impact of the hit is spreading all over the bone system. When practising the swing and hit, practically all parts of the golfer’s body are active: from the wrists, through the elbows, arms, back, abdomen, legs to the feet themselves. The ligaments and muscles also undergo strain.

Marbella Club Golf Course

Many people who start playing golf are surprised by muscle and back pains.

Having athletic physique is standard amongst the world’s top players. The most famous player in the world, Tiger Woods, devotes 2 to 10 hours a day to training. And it is not just swinging of the golf club. He starts his day after 6am and ends late in the evening.

¨I am trying to improve my fitness because I know it has an impact on my game. My training is varied. I don’t have time for injuries, so preparation is important to me. I run, swim, ride a bike. I also exercise at the gym to strengthen the muscles needed for the strong swing and I train my flexibility. The basis is a good warm-up and stretching, which can take up to 40 minutes.¨, says Woods in the 2010 edition of”Vanity Fair”.

How and where to start golf training, how to train, to make progress quickly, check with us and talk to the professionals at Marbella Club Golf. 

All owners at Marbella Club Hills will have a free membership to the local MC golf course. Ask us for more details.

Marbella Club Golf, Benahavís

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