by Jim Wells
“Walking is the best exercise known to man. Golf courses are beautiful places to walk. Why not play golf, walk, improve your game, and get fit–all in an hour?”
When golf started, it was quite simple. Grab some hickory clubs, a feathery ball, and join your mates on a roughly formed nature walk. Walk quickly, play quickly, make a putt, put your ball next to the hole on a mound of sand, swing away and be home for lunch. As the game progressed in the USA, golf exploded in the forties as returning service men moved to the suburbs and the golf course community was invented.
This continued for decades as courses became bigger and more beautiful, stretching across the land from links-style coastal courses, to mountain, and desert courses.
Soon, after a week of hard work, golfers were led to carts—saving them from tiresome walking. Then in the seventies, golf was known as beer, cigars, and golf carts, while the rest of society was reading books about running, diet, and visiting the newly invented gyms with Nautilus equipment. Golf drifted from mainstream and became the elite “country club” sport for the affluent. As golf adapted to more “man-in-the-street” and became open to all, it was simply more carts, more cigars, and a less healthy environment for everyone. Golf rounds stretched from four hours to five, and even longer.
As the golf industry puzzles in amazement as why people don’t want to spend 5 hours riding in a cart, playing a game that is difficult to learn, and then come home to take a nap — one voice in the wilderness sees an opportunity to infuse walking and game enhancement into a brisk 9-hole walk promoting golf fitness.
John Bell, a PGA member for 25 years, has developed 5 fitness regimens under his Swing Fit banner. The first in the progressive program is Sub60golf. This is a 9-hole, sub-60 minute, early a.m. or late p.m., quick and steady paced game that is time-conscious, instruction conscious, and minimally stroke-conscious. It is a way to be on the golf course, and enjoy healthy walking while experiencing a significant game enhancement opportunity, all in less than an hour.
John has rolled out the program at Randolph Municipal Golf and is currently teeing off every weekday morning at 6:30.
Randolph has been anxious for the program to succeed as the course is a great walking venue and the professional staff there has long advocated taking advantage of the beautiful outdoors.
Try walking-either at a quick pace or normal gait and watch your game improve.
By the way, what are participants saying?
When one first hears about the 60 minute pace, it gets your attention. While you might smile and think “say it isn’t so”, you are pleasantly surprised that you become more efficient in your routine, from selecting the correct club to getting mentally ready before you hit your shot.
At first, the swinging pace was uncomfortable for me. However, through this program, it is making me more confident in trusting my swing/club/finish.
As in the way football is being playing with the “no huddle” offense and seeing how teams can quickly make decisions and execute, I think the same “thought process” can evolve in golf. It certainly is exciting because I can see the results faster than ever before.