Walking the course: BagBoy promotion delayed, but some forgo carts anyway

Walking the course: BagBoy promotion delayed, but some forgo carts anyway

May 14th, 2014 by David Uchiyama in Sports - Golf

Bill Wayland puts his clubs back into his bag after playing a hole at Moccasin Bend Golf Course recently. Wayland is among a growing group of golfers who prefer to walk.

Bill Wayland puts his clubs back into his...

Photo by David Uchiyama /Times Free Press.

Bill Wayland adopted an old weight-loss program that has worked wonders for him.

He lost 15 pounds by walking while playing golf instead of riding in a cart.

"I also cut out the two six-packs per night," the Chattanooga lawyer joked while walking 18 holes this week at Moccasin Bend Golf Course. "No, really, just walking has done wonders for me."

Wayland had a shirt soaked with sweat after playing five holes on an overcast day before a pop-up shower soaked him even more.

"I come out here for exercise, and I don't care that much what I shoot," Wayland said. "I try to improve. But I'm the same golfer I was when I was 10 years old. I'm no better and no worse. But I think it's more fun.

"I understand younger guys wanting to zip around and socialize. For me, this walking is the best there is."

BagBoy Golf, one of the leaders in the sales of push- or pull-carts to help players walk the course, established a National Walk the Course Day about five years ago. It had a dual purpose -- to get players to walk more for the obvious benefits and also to sell its products.

The 2014 walking day was set for this weekend but had to be postponed because BagBoy's event leader needed an early maternity leave. But the company will hold it sometime this season, perhaps in the fall, said spokesman Perry Hilbert.

"We clearly embrace walking the course, and there are lots of folks focusing on the benefits," Hilbert said. "It's a benefit not only for us but for the game and for the health of those who play the game."

Walking 18 holes can be as long as walking five miles in a straight line. It is even more challenging on a course such as Canyon Ridge, which sits atop Lookout Mountain and only rarely allows golfers to walk because of its extreme terrain. One hole there has about a 400-foot-drop from the approach shot to the green. Only mountain goats and triathletes would feel comfortable walking each shot on that course.

"I was a little upset at first when they told me I couldn't walk," Wayland said. "I'm glad they did."

He would have suffered, even during the spring months, walking Canyon Ridge.

Wayland prefers a push-cart as opposed to the middle school, high school and college golfers who strap their bags on their backs. But that's the growing trend.

Golf bag companies are falling in line with the trend to walk by making bags of lighter materials, with a strap for each shoulder and a spot for a water-bottle.

"They're not like the leather bags I used to carry," First Tee of Chattanooga executive director Kathleen McCarthy said. "Somehow, the new bags make your feet feel better."

A BagBoy representative could be talking with McCarthy in the near future. The company works with golf courses across the nation to promote walking one round on one specific weekend each year, when it provides donations to local chapters of the First Tee.

"Wellness is one of our focal points," McCarthy said. "A course could be 6,000 or 7,000 yards on the scorecard, but we're walking more because we so often walk left or right, then walk from one green to the next tee.

"That in itself promotes wellness."

Burning calories is one reason Chattanooga resident Zack England prefers pushing a BagBoy cart instead of riding in an electric E-Z-Go.

"I'm fighting the weight, and it's cheaper to walk," said England, 31. "Sometimes I can entice my buddies to walk, but sometimes they're a little lazy.

"If the situation, like a charity tournament, I'll ride, but anything leisurely, I'm going to walk. I'll tell my buddies, 'See you on the green.'"

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.