Walking makes a comeback in golf
Push/pull cart sales have doubled as players practice social distancing
April 23, 2020
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- Golfers during their round at Marsh Creek Country Club. (Mike McAllister/PGA TOUR)
How to adapt in a pandemic?
Put one foot in front of the other, for starters.
At facilities that remain open amid the coronavirus pandemic – about 49 percent of courses nationwide as of last weekend, according to the National Golf Foundation – golfers are going back to walking in order to practice social distancing and avoid touching potentially infected things like golf carts.
“People are finding that walking isn’t that bad,” said David Ward, a teaching pro at Jacksonville Beach Golf Club in Florida, where business remains strong and every other tee time is a walking tee time. The course has just 72 carts, and with the one-per-cart rule, they go fast.
Jax Beach also offers a coronavirus deal on carts; two people go in on one cart for a slightly reduced rate, and each walks for nine of the holes to maintain healthy distancing.
According to estimates, walkers cover about five miles and burn roughly 2,000 calories over 18 holes. (Compared to around 1,300 calories for riding.) But walking had fallen out of favor.
Now, though, it’s back by necessity. Putting one foot in front of the other has made such a comeback that even before the current lockdown – all but five states have some form of stay-at-home order, either state-wide or partial, impacting 95 percent of the country’s population – golfers were reporting a scarcity of push/pull carts in big-box stores.
The trend is more than anecdotal.
“We’ve seen a sizeable uptick in the sales of push and pull carts,” said Rodney Chamblee, Merchant of Accessories for PGA TOUR Superstore, where such carts start at $119.99.
How sizeable? Sales have doubled over the past several weeks, he said.
“That’s certainly been a positive,” said Chamblee, who is not related to Brandel Chamblee, the Golf Channel analyst. “Unfortunately most of things are manufactured in Asia, and you can’t go for long like that before your supplier runs out. China is still recovering from the coronavirus, so a lot of the manufacturing has just gotten going again, and you’re beginning to run into a bit of an imbalance between supply and demand here. If you want a cart, you better get one.”
Will the surge of walkers endure even after the pandemic has abated? It’s too early to tell, but possibly.
“Our course is not overly long,” said teaching pro Ward of Jacksonville Beach, “and it’s not a hike from the greens to the tees. You’re not walking through a subdivision. I think a lot of people will keep walking.”