There has been a debate in golf recently about whether young, fit, college players should use push golf carts. Some are saying, no if they can’t carry their own clubs now, then what’s the world coming to. On the other side, medical experts are pointing to the damage that lugging a heavy bag can do to the shoulders and the back and advising all players to get a cart. It’s quite recent that young players have even been allowed to use golf pushcarts. In 2009 the American Junior Golf Association permitted pushcarts, and it did so after looking at the medical issues and finding that carrying heavy bags was risking back injury for the young players.
Most of the players I talk to have come around to the idea of carts, the most common reason is, ‘I want to use my strength and energy to hit the ball, not to lug around a bag of golf clubs.’. Those who play courses with hills see most benefit and may even gain a competitive advantage as they are not getting fatigued trudging up a steep slope with a bag of clubs. For those who look back into history and think we are not as tough as our predecessors, it is worth remembering that we carry a lot more golf clubs around with us than we used to. And, whisper it, we play a more demanding game. We play for longer than our predecessors, our practice schedules are often harder than for past generations of golfers. And we want to put our strength and energy where we need it, straight through to that ball. If we think golf carts are okay, which should we go for?
The benefits of a push cart
More health professionals working in the golfing world has also changed views about this. Increasing numbers of golfers are quite prepared to consult a physiotherapist is they are feeling the strain in their body, and most physios will recommend that you do not carry your clubs. As a golf-playing physio, I know told me. “What you have to remember, is that we need to exercise our bodies but not all exercise is good. And carrying around golf clubs just puts pressure on your spine and damages your posture. There is nothing useful about it at all. Think about it, you are not only carrying the bag, but you are also putting it down and picking it up probably 100 times in a full round of golf, and it is heavy. That puts massive pressure on your core and your back. This is especially damaging for people who are not at maximum strength, junior golfers should not be carrying around a full set, but nor should most women and most seniors. There I would say, absolutely not. But even if you are a six-foot man of 35 at maximum fitness, you may manage to lug your golf club bag around the eighteen holes, but it isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, it is going to hurt those parts of your body which are under pressure anyway when you play golf. The back and the spine are under pressure anyway when you swing a club.”
I have heard an argument that if you carry your bag you burn calories and that is part of getting healthy through playing golf and keeping your weight down. This is a bit of a myth. A study found the difference between pushing a cart around the course and carrying your bags was minimal. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it comes down again to all exercise not being equal. If you want to up your activity, play an extra round of golf, and if you can’t fit that in walk a bit faster between the holes.
Push or Pull?
So, we are agreed that you don’t want to carry your bags around. The next question is to push or pull. If we turn to the experts, the answer is loud and clear. Push beats pull every time. The reason is to do with your posture as you take your golf clubs around the course. If you are pulling you are putting one side of your body under pressure, and you are twisting your body in a way which puts extra stress on your shoulders elbows and knees, and that puts you at risk of injury.
It is worth remembering that golf is a game which puts extra strain on one side of our body. So, anything golfers can do to lessen that, by not putting asymmetrical pressure on when we do not have to.
But perhaps the clinching argument for using a pushcart rather than carrying your clubs or pulling them along. Your scores will be better. How do we know? Because the New York Times says so.
It reported on a study by the director of the Center for Health and Sport Science at the Rose Medical Center in Denver. Dr Neil Wolkodoff did a survey of amateur golfers, (using four golfers with handicaps from two to seventeen and ranging in age from twenty-six to sixty-two.) to find out just how they performed when either carrying or pushing their golf clubs. The results were clear. The players did best when playing with a pushcart, and poorest when carrying their own bags. Dr Wolkodoff found that when golfers had passed their anaerobic threshold, and their bodies were flooding with lactic acid, they missed more strokes.
” You will play your best golf at your peak fitness. It has been long known that exhaustion, and the build-up of lactic acid which that brings, impairs coordination and concentration. And I don’t need to tell you how important these two things are to playing a good game of golf.”
If you walk up a hill with the extra burden of carrying your clubs, then you are less likely to make a good shot. Everything which can conserve energy at that point is good.
I hope by now I have convinced you that pushcarts are okay. But I know a lot of you will be coming back with the comment; ‘That’s all very well, but they fall to bits, they delay the game . . . My buddy Brad was ranting about this the other day after he had played a round with his Pop. “It’s always the same,” says Brad, “Along he comes with this ancient old cart. Which he then has to set up, that take twenty minutes and a fair few curse words. Then we are off, two strokes in and the cart is wobbling, so he starts fiddling with it again, more cursing. I’m looking down the hill and seeing it’s a bit damp down there. I know he is going to get his damned cart stuck in the mud, and he does. I wonder if we are going to finish the round done by sunset. But he loves it. Me, I will never get one..”
Okay, so we are not recommending ancient golf carts. But do they always break? Can you get a reliable, easy to set up model which does not get stuck in the mud or the sand?
What to look for in a golf push cart
Large wheels, to make it easier on a sticky terrain. Collapsible, for ease of transport to and from the course (remember to test out if it fits into the trunk of your car). Weight, this can be a trade-off between some features and weight. A good cable brake, you need to be able to secure the cart when you take a shot and to be able to control it when you are walking down a hill. Here are our five best choices on the market today.
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This is the updated version of the 3.0 model and has better stability and storage for your golf accessories and a scorecard holder. Coming in eight different colors it looks great, and its three-wheel proportionate build makes it easy to maneuver. The wheels are solid foam based, so they are low maintenance and will not need inflating. It is made of aluminum, so it is light at just eighteen pounds, and it collapses so the cart will fit in the trunk of your car. It is only thirteen by fifteen by twenty-four inches. A push button on the front wheel adds extra braking security.
Pros: Lightweight and strong. Adjustable handle to suit your height. Easy to use handbrake.Portable and easy to fit in a car trunk
Cons: Not the easiest to maneuver as the front wheel is fixed. Not the easiest cart to fold
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This is a perfect choice of golf cart if you are short or tall as it has four options to adjust the height of the handle with a simple to use, quick release mechanism. One useful innovation on this cart is a smartphone holder which is easily accessible, this is just the thing for you if you carry a GPS rangefinder or a golf analyzer app with you on the course. The angled smartphone holder will allow you will see the display on your smartphone when you are using a GPS rangefinder or phone app. So, golfers can check the length of their next shot, for example without removing the phone. This cart is easily foldable and allows you to keep your golf bag attached to the cart when you put it in the trunk of your car, and many people will appreciate that convenience. It has robust wheels and an easily reached footbrake.
Pros: Easy and quick folding, you can do it in two steps. Smartphone holder which allows you to see the phone display without removing the phone. Easily accessible brake. A big storage pouch for carrying extra water
Cons: Umbrella holder does not come as standard, you have to purchase it as an extra. Not as compact as some other carts. This golf cart can take up a lot of space even in the trunk of an SUV
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A very good-looking cart with a simple and clean design which is easy to set up. Most users find it very easy to push across even tricky and hilly terrains out on the course. The four wheels give excellent stability, and this is the best feature of this cart. The wheels are ten and a half inches on the rear and nine and a half inches on the front, these plus a wide body design, at over twenty-five inches, make this smooth and almost effortless to push, and it will deal well with even muddy terrain and sand. Its foam-covered handles add to this feeling of comfort as you are pushing it along. The footbrake is easily reachable and a breeze to activate and holds well even on a hill. It is very light at less than fourteen pounds. The adjustable distance between the front wheels means the cart can accommodate any golf bag. It comes with an umbrella holder included and a scorecard and beverage holder. It folds easily, and when folded it is compact enough to fit in the trunk of a small car.
Pros: Easy to fold, Lightweight and comfortable to push. Compact enough when packed to fit into a small car.
Cons: Braking mechanism not too reliable. Securing the bag to the cart is tricky
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This is an excellent cart for left-handers, as the handles are ergonomically designed for both right or left-handers. It is a three-wheel cart that is heavier than some, weighing in at about nineteen pounds. The wheels use ball bearing technology which makes this cart feel stable on the ground and makes it very easy to steer. You can change direction and cope with angles with minimal effort. The camber of the front wheel can be adjusted to ensure that the cart does not veer off to the left or to the right. Its steel frame is not just stylish, it also makes it a durable and robust choice. The foot operated brakes are easy to use and reliable. The three wheels are removable so it can be stored in a small space. It has a scorecard holder and an umbrella holder. Last but not least it comes with an adjustable sitting stool. Just the thing if you want to take a rest during a round.
Pros: Very stable and easy to steer, and especially to change direction. Comfortable and ergonomically designed handles. An adjustable sitting stool
Cons: Not as robust as some other carts. Tips back with some umbrellas in the umbrella holder
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A four-wheel cart with and extra-large accessory bag and an integrated scorecard holder. A significant feature of this gold push cart is the position of your golf bag. The bag is held securely and in an upright position which makes it easy to get at your clubs.
It also has a holder for your smartphone device, while not the most robust we have seen, will take even the biggest smartphones. It is easy to store, measuring twenty-four inches by seventeen inches by sixteen inches when folded. Stopping with a handle mounted brake is easy. This cart is very easily adjustable for all heights, with a one-step adjustment handle. It handles well and stays straight when pushed. A big cup holder will ensure that you do not get thirsty and it’s easy to fold, and the tube underneath doubles as a handle, making it easy to carry.
Pros: The position of the bag on this cart means the clubs are very easy to access. Not only this, the angle of the bag means they do not bump together, risking damage. Very easy to fold. Steering is smooth and good with robust gel-filled wheels. Excellent and easy to access smartphone holders. Can be locked or parked right from the handle.
Cons: The braking system fails after the cart has been in use for some time.
Best golf push cart- Our choice
All these carts will serve your well, but if we have to choose one we are going for the No products found. This is because it is so easy to reach the golf clubs as you play each hole. Its smartphone holder gets our vote too, and we like its stability and how easy it is to steer.