GOLF was once a game of beer bellies, smoking and meat pies from the cart girl. But not anymore. Some will say Tiger Woods changed the golfing physique and attitudes towards training in the 1990s, others will tell you it was Gary “1000-sit-ups-a-day” Player in the ’60s. Regardless, modern golf is like any other activity – completely health conscious, full of calorie counting and often performed in lycra outfits. So it begs the question, how physically demanding is a round of golf? Can something so enjoyable actually be beneficial to your health? To find out, we enlisted the help of our friends at Garmin Australia, who provided us with a vivofit 2 activity-tracking wristband to extract the data from a round of 18. We crunched the numbers, and here are the results.

FIELD-testing, of course, required a round of golf (walked and clubs carried), so we chose the delightful Macquarie Links International Golf Club in southwest Sydney. This par-72 layout measures 6,208 metres and is quite hilly in places – particularly the par-3 11th hole, named ‘The Gorge’ for obvious reasons.  All the tasks typical of an average round were performed – walking to the practice range, hitting some warm-up balls, walking back to the first tee, walking to my ball, occasionally helping playing partners find theirs (and vice versa) and walking into the clubhouse for a post-round beer.

Me: 186 centimetres, 86 kilograms

Steps: 15,655

Distance: 10.3km

Calories burned: 1,548

Course length: 6.208km

How does golf stack up to the sports often seen as healthier alternatives?

IT’S an enjoyable and high-intensity anaerobic workout  – repeated, short bursts of energy. But 60 minutes of tennis burned just 688 calories, or less than half of the caloric effort I exerted during the 18 holes of golf carrying my clubs.

A VERY popular form of exercise in Australia, inspired by some of the world’s fittest athletes such as retired Cadel Evans – first Aussie to win the Tour de France. An hour of this form of cardiovascular workout burned 750 calories when cycling at 19km/h. Again, only 50 per cent of the energy required for a day walking the links.


Now you know how good it is for you, play more golf! As the legendary Harry Vardon remarked, “Don’t play too much golf. Two rounds a day are plenty.”