Yes indeed, golf is a sport

A new survey has revealed that golf is indeed a sport and burns up a lot more energy than most people think.

A new survey has revealed that golf is indeed a sport and burns up a lot more energy than most people think.
It doesn’t get close to the exhaustive sport of, say, boxing, but the energy expended in playing a round far exceeds playing a game of bowls and croquet and a fair number of other sports.
Yet before you change your New Year’s resolution to spend more time building up your fitness at a gym or on some form of home trainer, stop right now.
Listen instead to what Neil Wolkodoff, director of the Rose Center for Health and Sports Sciences in Denver told Associated Press this week.
Wolkodoff attributes this unexpectedly high expenditure of energy largely to swinging a club rather than the walk between shots
“One of the more interesting things I found,” he says, ” was that the actual act of swinging a golf club takes significant energy.”
Yes, and this despite the fact that the average swing takes only three seconds or thereabouts to execute.
The Denver scientist found eight male volunteers aged between 26 and 61 with handicaps between 2 and 17, fitted them with some up-to-the-minute measuring gadgets and asked them to go out and play some rounds of golf on the up-hill and down-dale front nine of the Inverness Golf Club in suburban Denver. Wolkodoff discovered the subjects burned more calories when they walked and carried their clubs (721) than when they rode in a cart (411).
Strangely, though, when they walked, they traversed about 2.5 miles over the nine holes, compared to 0.5 miles when they rode a caddy car, but the 500 percent increase in mileage corresponded to only a 75 percent increase in calories burned.
And Wolodoff came to the conclusion that that the act of swinging the golf club could actually be considered good exercise — a theory many claimants that golf is not a sport have questioned for some time.
“As far as physical exertion, it’s not the same as boxing, but it’s definitely more than people thought,” Wolkodoff says
Why you should hang on to your resolution to get fitter next year, is the fact that while the 2,884 calories the average player might burn by walking 36 holes a week is considered very good for your health (it can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer), it will do little to improve your fitness or help you lose weight.
And the survey also helped make one thing clear. Your level of fitness directly affects the quality of your golf
“You need to ask yourself, is the goal better health, or is it better fitness and better health and better golf?” Wolkodoff said.
He is set to submit his findings soon after New Year to the Journal of Applied Physiology, the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
The heart rate, oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production and how far they were walking were some of the measurements taken from Wolkodoff’s golfing guinea pigs during a stint that included four nine-hole rounds: one carrying the bag on their shoulder, one pushing the bag in a push-cart, one with a caddie and one in a golf cart.
But all this only after each of the test subjects had been given tests to help establish their baseline anaerobic thresholds (the point at which crossing this threshold will create a lactic acid build up which makes muscles start to burn and when fine-motor skills begin to deteriorate
Wolkodoff points out that it is important for golfers, especially for those who walk, to increase their anaerobic threshold to the highest level that is possible and convenient, for the greater their ability to get up steep hills or walk long distances quickly without losing their motor skills the better their golf will be.
“When the motor skill start to go, you can get the yips or lose coordination and with it rhythm and focus,” Wolkodoff said.
Some of Wolkodoff’s unexpected findings included the fact that:
— There was virtually no difference in calories burned when comparing carrying a golf bag (721) and using a push or pull cart (718)
“Normally, calories are measured on how much weight you had to move up a hill,” he said. “But in this case, it shows that even with another 15, 16 pounds to push with the cart, you’re more efficient at moving it that way than if the bag is over your shoulder.”
Not surprisingly, walking the course with a caddie carrying the clubs burned
— Players in Wolkodoff’s tests scored best when using push carts and playing with a caddie. Their nine-hole average scores (40 with push cart, 42 with caddie) were better than when riding in the motor cart (43).
This offered some proof, Wolkodoff said, that there could be a benefit in walking the course — the way many golf purists insist the game should be played — that outweighs the benefit of resting while driving to your ball in the cart.
“It gets back to the idea that walking gives you a certain amount of time to think about a shot, to rehearse, go through the stuff,” he said.
“Whereas in a golf cart, you’re holding on, then, boom, you’ve got to get up, go to the ball and make a decision pretty quickly.”
Walking wasn’t beneficial, however, when carrying your golf bag and having to haul it off your back between 40 and 50 times to play shots.
The average scores for the subjects when they carried their bags was a high 45 per nine holes. “Some people say, ‘I play better golf when I’m carrying,”‘ Wolkodoff said. “But this study says otherwise. A carry bag is not necessarily better.”
— Players reached their peak heart rates at the top of two taxing, uphill holes. When they were carrying or pushing the cart, the peak heart rates went beyond their anaerobic thresholds, and Wolkodoff noticed a marked deteriation in the scoring under these circumstances, almost certainly due to the build-up of lactic acid.
– Finally Wolkodoff also measured the respiratory exchange ratios (RER) of his guinea pigs to determine which fuels — carbs or fats — are being used during exercise.
The RERs for all four tests were between 0.85 and 0.88, meaning players had shifted from burning all fat to using equal amounts of fats and carbohydrates, but hadn’t yet reached the point where they were burning all carbs.
To a golfer this It means an energy bar with the approximately the same combination of what the players are burning — like a Zone or Balance Bar — is optimal for replenishment, and probably better than pure carbohydrates, such as an apple, a chocolate bar or a coke.
So, is golf a sport?
Next time the question comes up you will certainly be able top answer it with a firm, “yes it is.”
. “There are a lot of sports, says Wolkodoff that don’t have this level of energy expenditure.”
There is that reservation though that while it will keep you healthy, it won’t increase your fitness or help you lose weight, regardless of weather you tough it out and walk with your golf bag on your shoulders
So stick to your New Year’s to stop smoking and get yourself down to the gym at least