#1) Caddy ($75 or more)
A caddy is a luxury. You’re literally paying someone to carry your golf bag around for 4 or 5 hours and watch you play golf. They follow you around, give you some advice, hand you clubs, clean those clubs after you bury a wedge in the ground, rake the bunkers after making a mess in there, and maybe even read your putts. They’re golf’s version of a butler.
A good caddy is also a delight as they can add color to the experience, especially if you’re traveling in some far off land. Back in high school I was on a golf trip in Bermuda with my dad, Eliot, and Rob, and we had the same caddies for back-to-back rounds; one of them was named Red, and he was quite the character. An old Bermudian who had probably seen thousands of bad rounds of golf (Note: Rob had a hole-in-one on the 17th at Mid Ocean…). Red would stand near the hole while we were putting and swing the end of the flag at a wide area to indicate where we should try to putt the ball. He was rarely wrong in his assessment, but he wasn’t gonna waste his words or bend down to read the putt. You could bet your bottom dollar he wasn’t going to talk you through his process either. “Aim here and hit it” is what he said with his wave of the flagstick.
A very good caddy can save you a couple shots in a round, if you’re willing to listen to them. The song and dance of the opening holes, trying to figure out if the caddy knows their stuff or if they’re just going to be more of a nuisance can be hard, but usually when you’re paying a bit more of a premium for the experience, the caddy will be solid.
If you’re visiting a new course and they have a caddy, I think it’s always worth it, but it’s not something I would want on a regular basis. Well I would, but I’d be broke.
Considering I might have a caddy once or twice a season if I’m lucky, walking is the best (and cheapest!) way to travel around a golf course. It’s a bit of exercise, I enjoy the freedom of walking to my ball, and when you’re in a foursome you can all chat as you walk to your ball.
There’s also just the experience of walking through a golf course and experiencing it on foot. Looking around from vantage points that the architect wanted the golfer to see (hopefully from fairways and not bunkers, rough, and trees) instead of zooming around in a golf cart.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I used a pushcart. They are becoming more and more prevalent, especially this summer with rules limiting the use of golf carts. If you were to give me a choice between a pushcart and the options I listed below, I’m using a pushcart for sure. It allows me to walk the course still, and even offers more storage for food, water, beer, speakers, or whatever else people like to have with them on the course.
I know there are motorized golf carts out there, too. Maybe it’s because I live in a two bedroom apartment where my golf stuff seems to multiply like gremlins each summer, but I could never imagine owning something so big and clunky that’s made for golf. It would fit nowhere in my life. I still have memories of my dad wrestling with his pull cart back in the day, yanking on various levers to force it open after dragging it out of his trunk.
#4) Caddy ($50 or less)
Back to a caddy, but this one is the cheaper version, and I think it makes a difference. This is the caddy that might be new, probably a kid earning some spending money for college. The process of having this caddy carry your bag can actually become a hinderance to your round (especially when they are double looping). Considering the options after this are carts (which come with an additional charge), I’d rather walk and have a poor caddy than drive a golf cart.
Mind you, this is a great way to get some bang for your buck. If you end up with a good caddy at this rate, it can be a great day.
#5) Golf cart driving solo
At this point, I have to basically be forced to use a golf cart. Yes, they have space for all the things: beer, beer, water, beer, rain gear. I will only ride a golf cart if the course forces me to, or if heavy rain is in the forecast, or pace of play/sunset is an issue.
If I was a member at a golf course, this might be higher on the list, mainly because the idea of nipping out for a quick 9 holes in the evening on a cart is made quicker with a cart.
#6) Cart with someone
So I know there are some new fangled ways of getting around a golf course (segways, golf cart/bike contraptions, etc…), and I’m sure that all of them are better than riding in a golf cart with someone. During the pandemic this mode of transportation has been largely taken off the table. I always find myself stressed out when I share a cart with someone. I’m not a great passenger, and I like getting to my ball and hitting it. The song and dance around driving to each golf ball can be annoying, especially when you end up on the opposite side of a golf hole.
I also think carts create a pace of play problem. They make players think they are going faster than they are, they’ll sit in the cart between shots, and they can’t track the ball when they hit it wayward. When you walk, you can pick a spot where your ball went and track it. Not in a cart, though, because you can’t walk in a straight line.
The issue is, if people had to walk, they wouldn’t play golf. It’s also an extra form of revenue for the course.
When a course has issued the dreaded “Cart Path Only” rule, I often wonder if it’s even worth the bother to play that day. The idea of riding on the path and then walking to your ball might feel like a great middle ground, but there’s no way to make the round go quickly and there’s always one person on each hole who has to walk hundreds of yards to get to the golf ball from the cart path.
What are your favorite ways to get around a golf course?