We are a hardy bunch, those of us who still insist on carrying our clubs around a golf course.
We also are increasingly rare.
Take a look around just about any course and count the number of bag-toters. Now look again and see how many electric carts are out there. I’ll bet that, in most cases, it’s 20-1 or even 30-1 – and that’s assuming you can see a single person carrying.
For years, I have proudly entrenched myself in the bag-on-the-shoulder clan. In this space, I have urged people who are physically able to feel what it’s like to actually walk around a golf course rather than drive around it.
If you want to take a pull cart, fine, but walk. Get some exercise. Have long conversations with your playing partners as you head to your drives. It’s just a better experience when you walk.
But after what happened to me yesterday, I’m starting to wonder if Father Time finally has caught up with me. I’m wondering if my bag-carrying days are nearing an end.
Understand that even having this discussion is, to me, the ultimate sign of wimptitude. I’ve always walked where feasible, and that’s it. No discussion needed.
Yesterday, we were on a very walkable course. I have walked it before with no difficulty. There is not a long distance between the green and the next tee. It is very flat.
And it was not a hot day. The temperature was around 80, with a nice little breeze. A perfect morning.
But as the round wore on, you would have thought it was 95 degrees and I was walking a layout better suited for billy goats. I could feel my legs withering on the back nine, and I had to physically will myself through the last few holes. My gait was slow and unsteady. The bag has never felt so heavy.
Afterward, I was in an I-need-a-nap-on-the-couch stupor. Even today, my legs still are sore and my knee still is swollen. Walking to the kitchen is a chore.
So what happened?
Well, for starters, I hadn’t walked a course for several months. The combination of the summer heat and courses that require carts had kept the bag off my shoulder for quite a while. I haven’t been working out as much lately – maybe that has something to do with it.
Maybe this is the same as what happened when I stopped hitting the ball as far. It obviously occurred over time, but then all of a sudden I noticed that my Sunday punch was more like Monday or Tuesday. My best drives weren’t even beyond the others in the group, and I didn’t consider them big hitters.
Two of my playing partners yesterday also are devoted bag-carriers, and we talked a lot about how you’re more into our great game when you walk.
We talked about Bandon Dunes requiring everyone to walk. We agreed that we’d like to see more courses do that – and stop building layouts where the next tee is 200 yards away.
We know that the courses crave that cart revenue, but Americans need to be in better physical condition. Golf can help in that regard.
The flip side, however, is that I can’t recall ever feeling this sore and tired after a round of golf. I simply walked yesterday — I didn’t run a half-marathon. I shouldn’t feel like this. I shouldn’t feel as if every step I take is questionable. This is unacceptable to me.
I’m not giving up on walking. I’ll be out there again soon, and I again will be carrying my clubs. I won’t go down without a fight.
If you carry your clubs, I hope you have a similar attitude. Our ranks are thinning, but someone has to uphold the beauty of walking around a golf course.
Even if it just about kills us.