2022 has been a busy year for golf with reports showing strong numbers of people playing the sport, well up on participation pre pandemic. Visitors have returned to our shores and the big golfing venues had extremely busy, and lucrative, seasons.
More people playing golf is fantastic news, but it does mean more traffic across our golf courses. Over a busy summer and then a wet autumn in 2022, the golf courses of the UK have taken something of a pounding. Many could do with a bit of TLC over the winter months so they’re in better shape for the start of next season.
They’re not going to get a complete break of course. Many of us rightly want to keep playing and we should be able to. We saw the mental and physical health benefits golf delivered through the pandemic and it’s important people continue to get the exercise and the social interaction the sport provides as we go into another winter.
What can we do then to help our embattled greenkeepers and overstrained golf courses? We could start by not being selfish and trudging out over muddied, frozen fairways behind overloaded trolleys that churn up soft ground, cause compaction on cold ground and generally leave all-too-obvious trails of destruction across our beloved golf courses.
If you want to be a responsible golfer this winter, and you’re physically capable of it, you shouldn’t use a trolley. If you carry your clubs, your impact of playing in winter conditions will be significantly reduced and the golf course will benefit because of that. Even bone-dry links courses could do with a little rest this winter but our inland tracks in particular, need a breather. For those golfers not able to carry, they should still play using a trolley (when permissible according to a club’s policies on frost damage.) But those who can carry, should do so.
There’s been a massive increase in trolley usage in recent years. Once the preserve of the older golfer, electric trolleys are now used by a huge % of players, from the junior ranks upwards.
The major trolley manufacturers have reported record sales over the last couple of years as increasing numbers recognise the benefits of trolley usage.
In spring/summer weathers, they’re brilliant – taking the strain, allowing you to better focus on your game. They allow you to take a larger bag and more equipment. Many modern electric trolleys come with built in GPS systems and are impressively compact when folded down.
The electric trolley is a great piece of equipment for use in the right conditions. But when the conditions aren’t right, our opinion is – get yourself a lightweight stand bag or even a pencil bag and carry. There are some excellent options out there, many at a very reasonable price.
You might choose to take a half set of clubs to lighten the load. In the winter, often on shortened courses, it’s all you really need. And taking fewer clubs will help you improve your shot-making as you have to be more creative and learn to manipulate the ball. The requirement for versatility will serve you well when the playing season begins again properly next spring.
Another benefit of carrying is that you’ll burn more calories – rather useful at a time of year when we all tend to hunker down and over-indulge a little.
Carrying is quicker. There’s less faffing and you can walk more directly. On a chilly January morning, you want to keep moving and keep warm as you make your way round. Carrying will help you do that.
If you’re able to do so then, for the sake of your golf course and the greater golfing good, it’s your duty to carry your clubs this winter. Put the trolley and tour bag away until spring and turn to a lightweight bag, perhaps a reduced set, to facilitate zipping round the winter course, getting some good exercise and leaving minimal imprint on the fairways.
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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