Healthy Numbers

CGA-sponsored study sheds new light on golf’s various impacts on physical and mental health

The Colorado Golf Association partnered in a study conducted by world-renowned exercise physiologist Neil Wolkodoff, PhD, at the Colorado Center for Sports and Health Science that sheds new light on the impact the game of golf has on a person’s health and wellness. Using the CGA-owned CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora, Colorado, as its laboratory, the CGA and Wolkodoff conducted a study from July to October of 2022 to examine the physical and mental effects of the various golf “modalities.”

Ten subjects tested the biological impact of playing golf from a motorized cart, walking with a push cart/trolley, and walking with the assistance of a power caddie. All forms of golf burned more calories than just walking, and the two walking forms were significant enough concerning intensity they qualify as health-building activities. More importantly, for the first time ever, the Wolkodoff study went a step further to measure the mental effects of these modalities and the tie of physical exertion and play to scoring. The results were clear—walking provides a mental edge and lowers scores.

Neil Wolkodoff, Ph.D., Medical Program Director of the CCHSS, study lead, noted, “golf is much better than walking because the caloric output per unit of time is much higher than just walking. 80% of golfers play 18 holes for four or more hours, so the health result is enhanced from total energy expenditure.” Wolkodoff noted “golf while walking, pushcart and electric trolley, was statistically better at mental focus and score for the group.” There appears to be a rhythm of walking, thinking and shot making that is positive for golf Wolkodoff added. “This will help define the relationship between walking modes and focus/score, something always postulated but never researched.”

“The study found that golf is better played when you walk in some form,” Wolkodoff noted. He went on to state that there are two components to golf performance in this arena “the ability to mentally focus on the shot and the resultant shot and score. Both were significantly better with the two walking modes compared to the motor cart.”

Ben Pennymon, Director of Golf at CommonGround and co-author of the study, added this. “Whether you are Tiger Woods or Joe Smith, I have always told my students that walking is better. It is not just better because of the health benefits; you play better golf. Walking creates rhythm, it gives you time to mentally prepare for the next shot. If you are fortunate enough to have the ability to walk, do it! You will play better!”

Journal/Publication Link:

CGA Contact:  Ed Mate, Ryan Smith

Neil Wolkodoff, PhD, Medical Program Director, CCHSS,