Americans use a buggy six times more often than their British cousins.
“We Americans are lazy bastards. This carries over to the course, seen in our infatuation with golf carts. It’s a habit that’s looked down upon overseas. Many courses disallow carts, except to those with physical limitations or handicaps,” writes Golf Digest.
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Estimates suggest that nearly 70% of all rounds played in the states are in a buggy – a statistic that dwarfs other nations considerably. Today there are nearly one million golf carts in use on America’s courses, and it’s not the people who are to blame.
“Deliberate golf course design has yielded thousands of courses where walking is nearly prohibited due to ridiculous terrain and/or long green to tee transfers,” says golf pro, Jeff Brinegar.
The average golf course can expect to make up to $100,000 profit per year from golf buggy leasing, an appealing revenue stream for clubs that struggle with falling participation rates.
So there you have it, golf course design necessitates buggy use partly due to the large fiscal incentive.
“Golf carts are generally considered to be the second-leading source of revenue, behind green fees, and probably the most profitable revenue generator considering the minimal costs to maintain golf cars versus maintaining a golf course,” said Bill Bryant, a spokesman for Club Car.
In Britain and Sweden – two comparative nations in golfer participation – buggy use hovers between 5-10% for all rounds played. I’m not saying that buggies are responsible for the 60 million Americans who are statistically obese, but it’s sad that even golf reflects this huge social issue.
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It’s important to dispel the myth that buggies make golf quicker. Research by the USGA found that with cart paths rounds take 8% longer!
The World Golf Foundation estimates that players who walk an 18-hole course can clock an average of 5 miles, that’s a 2,000 calorie burn. You could go for a well-earned post-round five guys and still not find yourself in a caloric surplus.
There is nothing wrong with the occasional round at the wheel, sometimes you want to kick back and just hit balls. The problem occurs when we allow extreme claustrophobes to design our courses, which makes the use of buggy use unavoidable.
Golf has a problem shaking off it’s expensive reputation and when you force players to shell out more money than the average cost of a round ($28), you contribute to this common misconception.