I’ve played golf when it was 110 degrees. I’ve played when the temperature was barely above freezing. I’ve played in steady rain. I’ve played with leftover melting snow on the ground adding an extra place where you could lose your ball.
And through it all, I consistently have carried my clubs whenever possible. It’s just my thing. But, finally, after all these years, I’m wondering if it’s time to give in to the pull cart.
When I was a caddie as a teenager, carrying someone else’s clubs every day for four years just became part of the routine. They certainly weren’t going to give us a cart when they let us play the course on Mondays, so we carried then, too.
It became a badge of honor, a sign of strength. Over time, it just became something I did.
When playing partners would opt to ride in a cart for 18 holes, never walking more than a few yards at a time, I actually would take great joy watching them drive ahead of me as I examined every part of the terrain I was happily traversing.
When they’d offer me a ride, I would turn it down, telling them that I wanted to get a workout. And I did. I sincerely did … and still do.
But lately I’ve noticed that walking 18 holes with a bag on my shoulders is feeling a little more like a chore and less like a badge of honor. Sometimes, it feels like a badge of stupidity as I lurch toward the finish line.
Part of this might be the shoe issue. Try as I might, I have never found a pair of golf shoes that is truly comfortable. The ones I have now are the best I’ve had, but there still are times I have blisters when I get off the course.
Remember the days of the wingtips with metal spikes on the bottom? How did we do that? My feet would ache after every round. The only saving grace was that they looked cool – or so we thought – and it was neat to hear the clackety-clack as you walked on cement (although you were supposed to stay off cement as much as possible to avoid wearing down the spikes).
Now the market is filled with golf shoes that are supposed to be more comfortable. Some of them look like running shoes or even slippers. As much as I don’t want to spend money on yet another pair, I think I have to keep experimenting until I find something that feels better.
But even if I solve the shoe problem, I’m starting to wonder if maybe I need to rethink the bag-carrying issue.
It’s not something I’ll give into easily. I admit that, especially when I was younger, I took a dim view of using a pull cart instead of carrying your clubs. What a wimp, I thought. You can’t even carry your bag? Do you always need for it to be easy?
And then we get older. Then our back starts to feel a little stiff. Then our legs, and especially our knees, aren’t what they used to be.
I already have started giving in when the weather is hot. I don’t enjoy riding a cart around a golf course – the conversation and camaraderie just isn’t as good – but it’s the smart play when the temperature gets oppressive.
I am considering the idea of getting one of those pull carts that you bring to the course, the ones with all the bells and whistles, including a place for your scorecard. Considering it. Not sure I’m going to do it yet. For me, this would be the ultimate concession to age.
But, let’s face it, one of the beauties of our great game is that you play it so long, you evolve with it. You realize that you can’t swing out of your uncomfortable shoes anymore. You start hitting 7-iron from where you used to pull out a 9 or a wedge.
You even start pulling a cart, no matter what the weather is like. You take solace in the fact that you’re still getting to play golf, and that will forever be a privilege. That part will never change.