Looking at the course yardage, you’d probably guess about 3 or 4 miles. But a recent R&A ‘experiment’ suggests it can be much, much more than that…

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How far do you walk in a round of golf? Well, to a degree, it’s a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ scenario as there are so many factors at play, starting with, of course, the total length of the course.

Clearly a 7,000-yard course is automatically going to entail walking at least a mile further than a 5,300-yarder, but beyond that…

* How long are the walks from greens to tees?

* How direct is your route up the hole or is there a bit of military golf involved? Left, right, left, right…

* How well are you playing and how much ‘off-piste’ wandering about is there looking for your ball or the balls of others?

* How much wandering about do you do on and around the greens eyeing up putts, checking out the lie of your land, and then walking back to your bag/trolley?

All these factors will have a big bearing, but is it possible to come up with some sort of ball-park figure? Well, as luck would have it, I recently attended the European Institute of Golf Course Architects annual conference, which included a round on the highly regarded Royal County Down Championship links, ranked No.2 in our current UK & Ireland Top 100 course rankings.

Greeting us on the 1st tee was The R&A’s director of research and testing, Dr Steve Otto, who was conducting an ‘experiment’ to see how far golfers walked during their round over the fabled Championship links using tracking devices which he handed out to each player.

Royal County Down

Royal County Down – just under 4 miles on the card, but how long in reality?

The playing length alone of the course was about 6,800 yards or around 3.9 miles, and there is a reasonable degree of walking between certain holes at Royal County Down, but the results made for interesting reading…

  • The average distance walked was 6.6 miles, or a distance 69% greater than the scorecard yardage alone.
  • The shortest distance walked was 5.7 miles, or a distance 47% greater than the scorecard yardage alone.
  • The longest distance walked was 7.8 miles, or precisely double the scorecard’s yardage!

Okay, this was just a one-off test, and as already discussed, there are many variables at play, but next time you head off for a round pondering the health benefits of your walk around the links, don’t underestimate how far you will be walking.

No wonder Tiger's tired - he's clocked up double the mileage looking for Padraig's ball!

No wonder Tiger’s tired – he’s clocked up double the mileage looking for Padraig’s ball!

If the Royal County Down experiment is typical, you need to add somewhere between 47% and 100% to the scorecard’s yardage to guestimate how far you might be walking that day!