- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2006

Considering golf’s reputation as a largely sedentary sport, you might be surprised to learn just how many calories a player can burn during a loop around the links.

One dubiously fit player reported to the first tee at Reston National earlier this week with a pedometer strapped to his waist, clubs slung over his shoulder and the calorie question on his mind.

Three hours and 59 minutes later, he trudged home in 82 strokes, covering 4.388 miles according to the pedometer. In air-conditioned comfort, he then made three different calculations:

First, simply walking 4.388 miles at an average leisurely pace estimated at 3.3 mph (according to his basement treadmill) burned 601.6 calories.

Second, a handful of different Web sites estimate a 200-pound individual burns 150 calories an hour carrying a 25-pound weight. Our subject’s golf bag weighs 23.8 pounds. Thus, he burned 568.3 extra calories carrying his bag.

Finally, fitness sites NutriStrategy and Health AtoZ suggest the average player burns 2.2 calories a swing. Less his 34 putts (ugh), our subject took 48 swings with a practice swipe before each one. That’s 211.2 more calories (96 x 2.2), bringing his grand total of burned calories for one hackfest in the heat to 1,381.1 calories.

Though it boggles the mind, that’s more calories than the same guy would burn by running for an hour at a blazing 6.5-minute mile pace (1,294 calories according to NutriStrategy).

Obviously, golf doesn’t provide the same muscular and cardiovascular benefits as said sprint, but the calorie-torching showed up immediately on the scales. Our subject checked in at 208.8 pounds before the round and 204.4 immediately afterward. And that’s not all water weight, because the subject consumed three 20-ounce Gatorades (130 calories each) and roughly 40 ounces of water on the course before the final weigh-in.

Interestingly, the accepted caloric value of a round of golf while carrying or pulling one’s clubs is even higher. According to a half-dozen Web sites, walking players weighing between 190 and 200 pounds can expect to burn approximately 475 calories an hour. Our fairly unscientific study placed the figure at closer to 350 calories an hour.

Perhaps the higher number factored in post-shank fits of apoplectic rage or the calorie-roasting value of an extended double-bogey rant.

In any case, the message behind this mathematical madness is obvious: strap your sticks on your back, not on a cart, if you want to exercise anything other than your wallet at the course.

As for the other supposed benefits of walking (purity of the game, enhanced flexibility and feel), our subject claims complete rejection. Nothing’s purer than a 90-minute buzz around the course in a ClubCar at dawn. And when the heat index is pushing 110 degrees, walking doesn’t keep you warm and loose, it leaves you panting and distractingly exhausted; accordingly, our subject’s score was his third worst of the season.

Perhaps taking a caddie is the ultimate option. Rumor has it Greg Johnston’s available.

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