LA QUINTA, Calif. - One of the goals of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, is to encourage people to walk.
"Just walk! It's so simple," World Golf Hall of Famer Gary player said at a Humana Challenge event in La Quinta. "Look at the pros. I never see any pros dying of a heart attack."
While pro golfers walk every tournament they play, most recreational golfers hardly ever do. They ride in carts.
Three popular, public golf courses here in the valley, say less than 3 % of their players walk the course.
No one questions the health benefits of walking, but there is also a financial benefit to golf courses when everyone rides.
"The carts are included in their fee, so (golfers) just go ahead and take a cart rather than walk and pull their clubs or carry," said long-time golfer Dave Danford.
Go to any full-length golf course in the Coachella Valley and you'll see far more golfers riding than walking to their balls.
"I'd like to walk," golfer Brian Weston said. "Basically, the opportunity is not offered to you."
Golf carts are part of the package when you play at Palm Desert owned Desert Willow. Walking the course is allowed when the course is not crowded, which is rare.
"We do encourage them to take some of the last few tee times of the day so they don't impede pace of play at all," Desert Willow General Manager Derek White said.
An argument can be made that walking golfers play faster by going straight to their own ball versus driving to their partners ball, then their own. Many golfers do need a cart, but not everyone does.
The heat of the desert in the summer months can also make walking untenable for some, but the professionals in the Humana Challenge show it can be done on a regular basis when temperatures remain in the double digits.
Including the cart fee in a round of golf is standard practice across the Coachella Valley. In most other parts of the country, cart rentals are offered for an additional fee, leading many golfers to choose walking.
"I've noticed there are some people that are avid hikers here," golfer Fran Farnworth said. "But most people when they get on the golf course, they ride. So, I'm not really sure how that happens."
At Palm Springs owned Tahquitz Creek golf course, those who want to walk are encouraged to play the Legend course rather than the Resort Course because the Resort Course does not return to the clubhouse after nine holes. With a cart fee built in to the rate, few people choose to walk either course.
"It's a small percentage," Tahquitz Creek Director of Golf, Ryan McMillan said. "If 100 people play, it would probably be one, or less than one, that would walk the course."
La Quinta owned SilverRock worked with Humana to start a Walk the Rock program that offers lower fees for late afternoon golfers to walk and play the course.
"We actually get quite a bit of play," SilverRock General Manager and Director of Golf, Randy Duncan said. "We're averaging from six to 20 people that are doing it in the afternoon right now."
Golfers are allowed to walk SilverRock anytime, but with carts included in the fee, very few do.
"We're still 97, 98 percent of the people are taking a golf cart," Duncan said.
At PGA West, the home of the Humana Challenge, more than 50 members signed up for a program, pledging to walk and track their steps made while golfing.
Their director of golf says the walkers have not seemed to slow down the pace of play.
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