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Most readers on this site agree that a more traditional approach is in the best interest of the game and better connects us to our sport’s rich history. This is most easily viewed from the context of equipment where 460cc wrench adjusted 46” monsters launch the modern, solid core ball to absurd course positions. But another aspect of disconnect between the classic game and that of today is the rampant use of motorized carts. For many this is the standard. There are many courses out there where a request to walk gets answered with a mocking laugh or sometimes denied flatout. While it doesn’t make sense to condemn the use of carts for elderly or physically impaired, cart use is often borne of poor course layouts, cash flow considerations, and general laziness. The effects have been pronounced on the use of caddies. The caddy institution once served as a great platform for youth to enter the game, make some money, and learn proper etiquette before becoming competitive.

The Walking Golfer is a group dedicated to embracing walking as an integral and valued part of the game. Melvyn Hunter Morrow contributed this excellent essay in 2009 capturing his thoughts on walking as a staple of traditional golf. Melvyn is a direct descendent of Old Tom Morris and pops up on the internet from time to time to offer his unique perspective. We attempted to contact Melvyn to get permission for republishing his essay over here but were unable to make the connection. Regardless, we thank him for this piece and believe this essay frames well the core beliefs of the traditional golfer. You can find the original post at Why_I_Walk

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Why I Walk
Contributed by Melvyn Morrow
February 2009

I play golf and I am regarded by many as a traditional golfer because I walk.

The reason I walk has to do with the way the game was taught to me back in the 1960’s at St Andrews. My teacher was my father and a granduncle who explained the game to me advising that our family has golfed since 1771 when my great, great, great, great grandfather John Morris started playing at St Andrews.

There has only ever been one way of playing golf for my family and that is by walking.

I have tried carts but in all honesty it changed the game for me. It broke my concentration, that ability to be at one with the course that can only come from walking down the fairways. Trekking to and from the cart parked on its path at the side of the fairway does not give the golfer, in my humble opinion, the same opportunity to observe the course, the lie of the ball or the full options available to him. The golfer only gets a limited view of the surroundings when walking to & from the cart, missing out on the panoramic picture of the hole offered by walking from the tee to the fairway. No matter how minor the advantage it does impact your game, so carts are a no for me.

Some walking golfers will no doubt talk about carbon footprints and other solid arguments for walking, but I want to focus for a moment on the game itself.

The Game of Golf is and always has been a Walking Game, it brings the individual closer to himself and Nature, no matter if he is playing alone or in a four ball. It allows the golfer to understand, or at least try to understand, the architect and appreciate the little tests and traps that have been subtly scattered throughout the course. For me, this adds a factor of fun and enjoyment.

Walking is also very good for the human body, it is gentle exercise which over time can make a marked difference to ones life. My family, Golfers throughout on the Male side, have lived to their very late 80’s to early 90’s with perhaps just a few exceptions (i.e. Young Tom and my father, although neither died from heart related problems).

I have listened to many excuses from golfers about why they use a cart and do not walk. One favourite is that at the end of the day a cart will get them around a course quickly before the light goes. My opinion is, why rush golf? I would rather play a relaxed nine holes while enjoying the walk, the exercise and the feeling of stress rolling off my body step after step, than racing around on a cart mirroring my work day – but then that is how I view golf.

I also believe that the real inner spirit is allowed to renew, or at the very least refresh, itself when walking. It is important that we see and enjoy Nature as well as experience the natural ways of the wildlife that shares the countryside with us. Yet I am also a Man of the Links, feeling the air and wind on my face and watching it while it takes my ball those extra few yards, it just adds heaps to my enjoyment (for the most part).

I am no great golfer, I play golf for fun, but I believe I am able to talk about golf and how it is played as my family has great links with the game’s history and traditions going back over 230 years. I am a direct descendent of Old Tom Morris also related to Young Tom, George & Jack Morris (Hoylake), Willie Rusacks as well as James & Charlie Hunter (Prestwick). My Family have won The Open 8 times and have designed well over 100 courses, all the result of Walking.

There is only one way to really enjoy golf and that is to Walk. Please try it and experience the benefits not just to you mentally but also physically. I certainly support the aims and objectives of this site.

Melvyn Hunter Morrow
St. Andrews, Scotland
February, 2009

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Keep Walking!

7 Responses to “Walking as a Part of Traditional Golf”

  1. Avatar of Chris B Chris B says:

    Always find this discussion interesting as carts seem to be a Stateside issue.
    Here in the UK walking is the norm with the use of pull or motorised trolleys if so desired.
    Carts are available at many clubs but rare that it is a requirement of play.
    Walk with a bag on your back…. it’s how the game was meant to be played :=)

  2. Avatar of In the Dirt In the Dirt says:

    Tough to believe that walking wouldn’t be recognized as the standard method of traversing the links. Personally I have no interest in playing fast and when I hit bad shots I want to take the walk to analyze them and try to focus in again the for the next shot. My experience with carts is that you get to your ball very quickly and then have to wait. Some good points by the author.

  3. Avatar of skinnybuddah skinnybuddah says:

    As luck would have it, I was having lunch and a beer a couple of weeks back, in the beer garden at the Jigger, just off the 17th fairway at St Andrews, and commented to my wife how surprised I was to see so many people walking the course with clubs on back…….Trolleys were a rare site……..I wondered though, if it was perhaps because people brought “lite” bags which encouraged it. (Can thoroughly recommend the steak sandwich and Jigger Ale by the way!)

    • I’m looking into buying one of those “lite” bags skinny. I kind of like the one where the strap stays upright when the bag is laid down. Also like the walking bags from Mackenzie but they are pricey.

      • Avatar of skinnybuddah skinnybuddah says:

        Funnily enough I my surname is McKenzie, so I thought it was only appropriate, that given my surname and I play regularly on a Sunday I thought I could ask the mrs for a McKenzie, Sunday bag for christmas.
        Alas she thought they were too pricey also, however I did get a Wilson Feather bag, which will be ideal for carrying about 9-10clubs. Nice for a quick out of the boot of the car round.

  4. I am pleased to see that you used my short essay as why I walk. It is important and so much part of the game.

    I have strong view and voice them freely, but then I feel golf can take them.

    While walking is at the heart of the game IMHO, the biggest threat is not the cart but distance aids and the long hitters. The Royal & Ancient Game of Golf is not about flying over the playing field, but that of navigating the course, facing the tests and traps placed there by both Designer and Nature. Where is the skill in the long drive, in fact where are the centre fairway pot bunkers to trap these long hitters. How do we play the game of golf if we keep flying over the course and its features and why will the R&A not accept that we need a roll back policy and more control over technology – no not ban technology but utilise it to give the equipment and course the consistency that was missing in the 19th Century.

    Golf needs older courses, many are far better that many produced over the last 50 years, but we cannot keep extending our old courses, some are running out of land, so let’s hope The R&A start to look after the game they are in charge of the sooner the better

    • Avatar of skinnybuddah skinnybuddah says:

      Totally agree, we’re ruining the work of legendary course designers and and their courses by redesigning their work to accommodate technological advances. I was telling a young bloke the other day that Ben Hogan once said (in Power Golf I think) that a 5 iron should go about 150 yards, this bloke, (early 30′s) said, “yeah I think I’ve heard of him….150, thats about a nine iron for me……..”

      I don’t think he quite got it!

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