For hundreds of years, whether you carried your own clubs or had a caddie carry them for you, the game was played exclusively on foot.
If you go back to the mid 1900s when the motorized golf car was just being introduced, most clubs didn't have one, and if they did, they were exclusively for Mr. and Mrs. Haverkamp who could barely walk and needed the assistance to get around the course. In fact, if you were able to walk and took a golf car, you were seen as lazy and had poor character.
Fast forward a few decades and sedentary lifestyle coupled with ever busying schedules created a dependency on speed and convenience. Courses found out they could make more money by pushing golf cars on people, with many courses making them mandatory. The additional revenue from a golf car and the ability to get more people through the course each day was too good to pass.
*Just to clarify, a golf cart is something you push or pull. A golf car is something you drive.
As much fun as it is to zip around the course, the problem with riding is it tends to lock up the body, especially the pelvis and thoracic spine, and prevents the body from moving efficiently. When you're walking however, you have the benefit of being in near constant motion during the entire round allowing your body to stay warm and loose.
If you do choose to ride, at least use your golf car as a tool to stay loose while on the course. (Click Here for Episode 2 and click Here for Episode 3)
There are many benefits to walking the golf course but unfortunately most people don't do it because it hurts. Walking 3-8 miles, carrying, pushing, or pulling a 20-50 pound bag takes its toll on the body, especially if the body is dysfunctional.
It's one thing to swing on the range when you're feeling fresh but when you're on the course, under the summer sun, slightly dehydrated and hungry, and your body is fatigued, any faults you have in your movement patterns are going to come through and because of fatigue, you're now much more likely to hurt yourself.
*Try my warm up routine to get your body moving well before swinging a club.
You may be thinking, this is great, but there's no way I can just all of a sudden start walking the golf course. Maybe you've had a hip replacement or an ACL tear. Maybe you have a herniated or bulging disc, or maybe you get plantar fasciitis when you walk.
Listen to your body. Pain is a biological response that something isn't right. If you use a golf car as a crutch because it will allow you to get through the round "pain free" you haven't actually fixed the issues causing your pain. It would be like treating a bacterial infection with ibuprofen. It'll lesson the symptoms but not actually address the root cause.
How do you break this cycle and play real pain free golf?
The triad of change is... Mobility, Motor Control, Functional Application.
Mobility: Remove restrictions and enhance range of motion
Motor Control / Stability: Train competency within new range of motion.
Functional Application: Take the new movement skills you've developed and apply them in a functional application such as playing.
STEP 1 - Understand
Step one is understanding how your body operates and functions. Having a high level overview and understanding of how the body works is enough to create an awareness and curiosity for improvement. That's why I wrote Mobility vs. Stability. Check it out then come back to step 2.
STEP 2 - Test & Develop a Plan
Step two is finding a professional who can perform a comprehensive movement screen and identify the restrictions you have and educate you on how they'll effect your swing.
Knowing what your limitations are will help you understand what swing changes you can and cannot make, and what the safest course of action is for you and your body. A good coach will help you to better understand...
Short Term: How to work within your limitations to maximize efficiency.
Long Term: How to remove those limitations and enhance performance.
The person who screens you doesn't have to be a golf professional but it helps since they'll have a thorough understanding about how the body-swing connection.
STEP 3 - Eliminate Restrictions
Step three is following a plan developed specifically for you to improve your range of motion and eliminate your inefficiencies. This will make sure your body can handle the positions and loads you're asking it to.
Depending on the professional that screens you, they may be the one prescribing you exercises and stretches (like I do at Mobilitas Golf) or, there may be a team of professionals who split duties between mobility, stability, and the swing in which case they should all be able to screen you.
Regardless though, make sure you're working with a professional/professionals that understand you, your goals, your limitations, and truly cares about seeing you get better.
STEP 4 - Develop Motor Control
As your body becomes more efficient, your brain and body won't know what to do right away which is why having a dedicated coach or team of professionals with you along this journey is so important. The last thing you want to do is gain new range of motion then ingrain bad movement patterns.
This is the time to double down on Private Coaching. There's an old saying, do it right, not twice.
Don't get discouraged by this process. Depending on how big the change is, it may take 3-5 shots to "find impact" again or it might take 3-5 weeks or in the case of Tiger Woods, 3-5 years.
Regardless of how long it takes, if you try to go through this process alone, or if you decide mobility isn't important and you just want to work on the swing, this process will take much longer than it should.
STEP 5 - Functional Application
The last thing now is to take your new body and new swing onto the course. Early in the process, it's not about score, it's about adjusting and adapting to constantly varied conditions and navigating physically and mentally through them. Grooving your swing on the range is great for motor control practice but does nothing for high level functional application.
Having a professional coach you through this process of changing your body, refining your swing, and learning how to use it to score and have more fun playing is vital. The last thing you want to do is spend all this time working on enhancing your bodies performance only to unintentionally create bad habits or even worse, spend time working on your swing without addressing your physical limitations at all!
Be sure to check out my on-course programs such as my Players Program and Sunday Fun Day, both aimed at getting more on course experience!
Dysfunctional movement patterns are a precursor to pain. Pain is a precursor to injury. Injury is a precursor to disability. Why would you want to subject yourself to pain and disability if you could recognize way ahead of time your bad movement patterns, fix them, and actually enhance your performance before anything bad happens!
If you want to begin the process of moving better and playing better, email me here and learn more about how the Mobilitas Method can get you playing your best golf EVER!