There are a couple of debates that simmer in golf with no obvious resolution, old faithful topics that can always be drawn on by a golf writer struggling for a column idea.
The distance debate; should divots in the fairway be treated as GUR; ways the handicapping system could be improved and why the rules governing the game need to be simplified.
All are capable of eliciting the response: ‘Ah, THAT old chestnut’, as indeed is today’s chosen topic.
Holding its head up proudly in the never-to-be-resolved category is the ‘walk v ride’ discussion.
Every few months this one seems to play out (usually on social media) and often follows the same pattern.
It usually starts innocently enough with a golfer proclaiming – often after a visit to the linksland of Scotland – the joy of having walked a particular course and how the experience would have been diminished by riding a cart.
Almost immediately someone will counter with the argument that for some golfers, health issues preclude them from walking a full 18 holes.
This will be accepted by all as a reasonable position but then, magically, the discussion will quickly degenerate into all-out war despite peace having seemingly been negotiated.
For the record, your correspondent is in the camp that believes golf is better when experienced on foot.
However, this is in no way a condemnation of those who choose – as is their right – to take a cart for play, whatever their reason.
Leaving aside the internal golf discussion about which is preferable and why there is, as always, a bigger picture to be considered in this debate.
On a recent State of the Game podcast (yes, that is shameless self-promotion for those following along closely at home) fellow Golf Australia magazine writer Mike Clayton suggested he didn’t feel his age.
“There are those who will tell you golf is not a sport because it doesn’t involve enough physical exertion and if you ride in a cart (when you don’t need to) that might be true ...”
Asked about launching a new design firm at the age of 63, Clayton said he still feels ‘like I’m 30’ and was excited to get on with the new venture, including moving back to England for a portion of the year.
It was an interesting tidbit to consider, particularly for those who know Clayton – and his weekly golf schedule – well.
It would be difficult to imagine anybody, even among fellow professionals, playing as much golf as Clayton. But here’s the important part: without fail, he walks every round.
When Australia’s tournament season rolls around, Clayton will almost always pick up a bag and caddie for one of our up-and-coming young players.
And it’s not unusual for him to carry the bag in the morning then head out and walk the course again following the afternoon play. All four days.
The point of all this isn’t just to sing the praises of Clayton but to wonder whether there is a direct relationship between the amount of walking he does and his still ‘feeling like I’m 30’.
It seems likely there is and at a guess many a health professional would agree.
There are those who will tell you golf is not a sport because it doesn’t involve enough physical exertion and if you ride in a cart (when you don’t need to) that might be true.
But try keeping up with Clayton on foot around a golf course – twice in a day – and you might find yourself singing a different tune.
So do yourself a favour next time you have the choice, walk instead of ride. If you do it often enough you just might get to 63 still feeling like you’re 30.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, Good Good, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts.
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