Is golf a sport? How many calories do you burn while playing golf?
These are good questions and ones we’ll address today.
First off, yes… golf is a sport. While it might not include the physical side as much as football or basketball, it still requires a ton on your body. Not to mention the mental grind is arguably more intense than any other sport.
Professional golfers have to battle their competitors, the course, their mind, and more for 4–6 hours, four days in a row to win an event. It’s an absolute grind and why so many ex-pro athletes from other sports get into the game. Just ask Michael Jordan who became so obsessed with golf he built his own country club.
While it’s a sport for the mind, it’s also great exercise and why it became so popular since 2020. Plus, with fitness watches we can learn how many calories you can burn on the course.
Let’s get into it…
How Many Calories Do You Burn Playing Golf?
Playing golf is a great form of exercise as you burn calories all day from getting a ton of steps. Walking 10,000 steps per day (about five miles) is a great way to stay on top of your health.
Here’s why according to an informative Eating Well article, “According to a 2018 study published in the journal Obesity, walking 10,000 steps a day is associated with weight loss and weight management.
Plus, it’s a low-impact exercise, making it accessible for all fitness levels. And it elevates your heart rate and activates muscles like your quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings, helping to burn calories and strengthen your lower body.”
Other benefits include better mobility, improved mood, better brain function, and speedier recovery times. Unfortunately, most Americans are much more sedentary and only get 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day.
Luckily, pushing or carrying your golf bag can help improve your steps (with all the benefits we just mentioned), get outdoors, and meet new people.
- Playing golf is a great way to burn calories from getting in more steps than a lot of other sports.
- Walking 9 or 18 holes while carrying your golf bag will burn the most amount of calories. But it’s not always easy on your back and can lead to injuries.
- Most golfers will benefit more from walking 9 or 18 holes with the use of a push cart. This will save your back/shoulders while still getting plenty of steps during the round.
Keep reading to learn more about how many calories are burned playing golf as there are several factors to consider.
Walking vs. Riding
The biggest factor when figuring out the number of calories you burn is walking vs. riding in a golf cart. Golf courses are 6,000 plus yards in length, which can lead to a lot of steps and calories burnt during the round. But you won’t burn nearly as much when riding in a cart.
The only time you might get a lot more steps when riding in a cart is during winter rules – aka cart path only. When the course is wet and you can’t drive on the fairways or rough, you’ll likely get double the amount of steps vs. a normal round with a cart.
Additionally, a New York Times article found that carrying a bag does burn slightly more calories than a push cart. They found that walking nine holes with a golf bag burnt 721 calories while pushing was 718 calories.
While using a cart burnt 411 calories on average for nine holes. While the World Golf Foundation estimates that you will burn between 800 and 1300 calories when riding in a cart.
However, I’d argue that for some golfers it can do more harm than good as carrying your golf bag puts a lot of pressure on your back/shoulders all day. If the bag is too heavy, it can lead to some golf injuries.
This is why we suggest using push carts instead of carrying a bag on your shoulders. Modern push carts are much more ergonomic and easier than ever to make walking more enjoyable. Plus, they have tons of storage to bring food, snacks, and other golf gear.
Or, you could always buy an electronic push cart (known as an electronic buggy) too. These remote controlled operated devices make it easy to walk without hardly touching the cart all day.
Check out our favorite electronic carts here.
Length of Golf Course
The second factor is the length of the golf course as they differ greatly from course to course. According to the USGA, “Golf Courses in the United States vary in back tee length from under 1,500 yards to over 8,000 yards for 18 holes. The median length forward tee is 4,952 yards and the median length back tee is 6,518 yards.”
Shorter golf courses – known as executive golf courses – are mostly par 3s and some par 4s. These courses are generally meant to walk vs. ride in a cart as they’re so short. These are a good place to start walking if you aren’t that active yet.
Walking a longer golf course will require a lot more effort. Using an online convertor tool, I found that 6,518 yards is about 7,821 steps.
Plus, in golf you don’t walk in a straight line either which adds more steps to your total count. Not to mention there might be long distances between holes which can also increase golf burn calories.
As you can tell, it’s easy to see how walking a full size championship golf course can lead to 10,000 plus steps easily.
Caddie vs. No-Caddie
If you’re using a caddie, you probably won’t burn as many calories as if you were pushing or carrying your own bag. At some iconic bucket list courses – you must walk vs. ride in a cart – and caddies can definitely help you out. Not to mention provide tons of course knowledge too.
The same NY times article found that you still burn 621 calories on average when you play golf with a caddy.
Holes of Golf
Another factor when considering how many calories you burn golfing is the number of holes played. You’ll burn roughly twice as many calories from 18 holes vs. 9 holes or you might feel ambitious and play 27 or even 36 holes.
The final thing to consider for how many calories you burn is yourself. Every person is different – from size, weight, amount of muscle/fat, etc. So it’s not always easy to determine the exact calorie burn for golf (or any activity for that matter).
The best thing to do is wear a fitness monitor – like Fitbit or Apple Watch – to gauge your activity levels. These trackers can help provide custom calories burnt based on your body and health levels.
Or, buy a Garmin golf watch (check out the S60) to not only help with your fitness but your golf game too. Golf GPS watches provide tons of information to act like your caddy on the golf course. Check out our favorites here.
Golf Calorie Burn
As you can tell, there are a lot of factors when figuring out how many calories you burn. Golf burns calories all day which is great as most people don’t get enough steps vs. the number of calories they’re consuming either.
To burn the most amount of calories, walk 18 holes on a championship course. Even if you walk nine holes of golf from time to time, it’ll help your overall fitness levels. Plus, when the weather is nice you can enjoy the course more and oftentimes play better too.
Overall, the calories burned playing golf vary from about 420-720 for nine holes and roughly double for 18 holes.
FAQs About Calories Burned Playing Golf
Do you have more questions about how much exercise you get from golf? If so, keep reading through the most frequently asked questions and answers now.
How many calories do you burn playing golf riding in a cart?
About 400 calories burned playing golf in a cart for nine holes.
How many calories do you burn walking in one round of golf?
Walking the golf course can help you lose weight and get more steps in your daily routine. Experts have found that walking can burn around 700 calories (or more) per nine holes.
Plus, is there a better way to be burning calories all day? It’s a lot better than the treadmill!
Does golf reduce belly fat?
Fat is nothing more than consuming more calories than you’re burning. Walking more than riding in a golf cart can help you burn more calories and get you into a caloric deficit.
Ultimately, losing weight comes down to burning more calories than you’re consuming. Golf, working out, and a solid eating plan can help you reduce belly fat in the long term.
Does golf tone your arms?
Golf requires a lot of rotation in both your upper and lower body. While it won’t give you a workout like swimming, it can help improve your upper body strength and core.
Can you get fit playing golf?
You burn a lot of calories playing golf (especially when walking). Paired with a solid nutrition plan and regular workouts, there is no doubt golf can contribute a lot to your physical and mental health.
I’ve worn a Fitbit tracker or Apple Watch religiously for a few years and always surprised how many steps I get from a round of golf. Even on days when I ride in a cart, I usually get 8,000 to 10,000 steps which burns a good amount of calories.
However, the few days I actually walk (usually for USGA qualifiers or carts on path only days) I get 15,000 to 20,000 steps! For context, I’ve run several half-marathons which were only a few thousand steps more. This is why it’s a good idea to bring plenty of water, sports drinks, and food to stay energized throughout the day.
Needless to say, golf can definitely burn a lot of calories, especially when playing in heat or humidity. Paired with golf workouts and a solid eating plan, the sport we all love can help us get in better shape.
Final Thoughts on Calories Burned in Golf
Golf is a great way to get more active and help you hit the 10,000-step goal. Staying active will help improve mobility, mood, and recovery times – which all golfers can benefit from.
To make golf much more active, choose to walk instead of ride in a golf cart. If you can’t walk all 18 holes yet, make sure to walk the front nine and jump on a cart the back nine. Check out our favorite push carts that will make the walk a lot easier.