I am a big proponent of walking the golf course while playing.
Outside of the obvious physical activity increase, walking allows me to connect with the course and nature on such a deeper level.
It allows me to look around, to take in the sights and smells.
To feel the sunshine on my arms.
Maybe that sounds hippie-ish, but I believe there is a golf performance advantage as well.
As I walk up to the green I can see and feel how the ground below me is sloping.
I can take in more information that the golf course is providing me.
One topic I explored in great depth while working with football athletes years ago is the presence of perceptual-action coupling within our athletic ability.
To put it simply, we absorb information from the environment and create motor patterns that solve the problems it presents.
While this idea may feel more prominent in a sport like football that is reactive and extremely dynamic, I believe the same principles can apply to the golf world.
We need to take in the information that the hole is providing us.
We will then act on our perception of that information.
And the "perceptual" part, may be the most important.
WHAT ARE YOU PERCEIVING?
Research has shown that it is possible to dissociate our perception from actionable ability, and I think this can be represented within golf.
For example, let's say you have some trees in front of you with some branches over head.
Hitting one at the green, even a low punch, could easily hit a branch and turn into a double bogey or worse.
But, you can't help but look at the green.
You perceive the information of the branches as not being a dangerous hazard, even though they are.
The action you choose (still going at the green) doesn't reflect the true hazard the branches present.
What do you think happens next?
You hit the branches, it ricochets who knows where, you make a double.
Are you perceiving the course in a manner that matches your skill set?
Are you providing your motor system enough information to act properly?
Are you giving the course a wide breadth of attention, or are you solely locked into your impact position?
The overall point is this... The information that we take in, and more importantly how we perceive that information, is directly related to the actions we take to solve the problems presented by the golf course. If we are too narrow focused on the swings we are trying to execute, we are missing key information from the course, trying to guide our motor outputs and the shots we are trying to hit.
THE PHYSICAL SIDE OF WALKING
I do understand it can be demanding walking the golf course.
You are probably putting ~5 miles when you decide to walk 18.
Mix in 30-40 high impact swings... a round of golf is demanding.
I don't know if there is a better exercise for the human body than walking.
If you asked me, "Carter, your athletes can only do one physically active thing everyday... what would you have them do?"
I think walking would be the answer!
The health benefits are nearly endless...
Improve immune function
Connect with the earth
Stress bones (good stress)
"BUT WALKING IS HARD"
I am right there with you. I admit it, it can be a grind.
By the 15th hole, it gets tough.
But, ask yourself, how many times have I exposed myself to this stress in the recent past?
If you are a constant cart taker on the golf course, and decide to walk for the first time, yeah it's going to be difficult.
Over time, as your body adapts to that stress of walking the course, it will get easier.
It takes consistent and progressive exposure to a stress, in order to adapt to it.
Also, I recommend grabbing a push cart... those things are clutch.
Walk more in 2022!
Let's go low.