Save the back, push your clubs.

In the golfing world, you can carry your clubs, use a push cart or put them on the back of a golf cart and motor it around the course.  Personally, my tendencies were to either carry or use a push cart, but recently I’ve had some second thoughts about the merit of shouldering clubs during my near-daily rounds.

When I first started using a push cart there were a few jokes/cracks made about it and people seemed to think that in order to be a golfer you needed to carry your clubs.  Every sport has it’s purists and it’s great to remember the origins of your activity, but in my mind the preservation of health trumps trying to live up to a few people’s ideas of what an activity should be.  Of course, if you had to carry in the PGA,, European Tour, etc, then it would make sense to instill that habit, but seeing as you never see a golfer carrying their own clubs on TV I was curious as to whether there was any beneficial reason to not using a push cart.  Does carrying build strength?  Does it help your game in any way?  I wanted to know an expert’s thoughts on this, so turned to Physical Therapist Shawn Dailey.  He has an extensive knowledge of the human body and would know the positive and negative aspects of pushing or carrying.

I asked him and this was the response he sent:

Should I Carry or Push My Golf Bag?

I often get asked by  golfers if I feel they should carry their bag or use a push cart?  I always tell them it is better to push then to carry.  No matter what age or skill level I feel it is best for the golfer’s body to use a push cart.  The more a person plays or practices the more they should use a push cart if possible.  Carrying a golf bag adds compressive forces through your spine which will increase the load to the tissue including disks, joints, ligaments, fascia, and muscles.  Golf bags are also awkward and only have shoulder straps (no waist harness like a backpack) so the forces are not distributed equally so this creates torsional forces with walking which can be very hard on your spine.  The average tour bag can weigh anywhere between 30-50 pounds and the average bag can weigh between  20 and 33 pounds so this is a lot of force that is put through your back during the course of a round.  If you add the strain that is involved with picking up and taking off the golf bag you get even more stress.  Golf harness design has improved tremendously over the past 20 years but it doesn’t change the fact that you are still putting a lot of unneeded compressive forces though your back which can stiffen the spine and surrounding muscles which can negatively affect the swing and how well you play.  Two of the most common injuries in golf are low back pain and foot pain (plantar fascia pain)  which are directly affected by carrying your clubs.  It is hard for me to see young golfers carrying a set of clubs that weigh about as much as them and causes horrible posture which will contribute to bad posture in life and their swing.  They carry their clubs because it is “cool” and pushing is what old people do.  We need to change this mentality to save our bodies and our kids!

The only time I would advise a golfer to carry instead of push a cart is if they absolutely “think” they play better while carrying.  Yes… I feel this is purely psychological, but that is a huge part of the game.

Dan… I strongly encourage you to use a push cart as much as possible and to make it “cool” to push instead of carry.  With the number of hours you put into practicing, I feel it is important for the success of the Dan Plan for you to use a push cart.

Shawn Dailey, PT, DPT, TPI CGFI 1

Director of Therapeutic Associates Lake Oswego

Northwest Golf Performance

Seems pretty straight forward to me.  I played well over 100 rounds in 2012.  The point of The Dan Plan is to excel in golf through 10,000 hours of deliberate practice and the only thing that can possible stop or delay me is injury.  If there is no charted benefit to carrying golf clubs then it makes sense to utilize a push cart.

First order of business:  Get one of the new ClicGear carts that are coming out in a couple of weeks.  Going to be rolling in style.

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