It may seem like a really casual sport, but does golf burn calories? I mean…we golfers wear nice clothes, there’s not a lot of running involved, and there is a lot of time for breaks. But golf actually is a rather intense activity, even if it doesn’t look like it. And it may surprise you how many calories are burned while playing golf. Now, the real test of a workout is how many calories are burned.
So… does golf burn calories? Yes, golfing burns calories. Golfing can burn up to 600 calories per hour. Assuming it takes 2.5 hours to golf 9 holes, you can burn 1,500 calories. Using that same calculation, you can burn 3,000 calories while golfing 18 holes in 5 hours.
There are a variety of factors that determine how many calories are burned, but nevertheless, you do burn calories while playing golf.
Note: Please talk to your doctor or nutritionist before beginning any strenuous golf activity or making drastic changes to your regular golfing routine. It is recommended to replenish the lost calories with protein-rich foods. And stay hydrated throughout the round by drinking water or electrolytes through sports drinks.
In this article, we’re looking at all the ways golf burns calories.
If you are looking to change the caloric burn of your golf game, keep reading to figure out how and where you can either burn more calories or cut back from burning too many. It is structured by talking about the least influential factors to the most influential factors.
The factors include the length of the round, the weight of your golf bag, and how you make your way through the course. To tee off, we’ll look at the round size.
Golf Calories Burned Playing 9 Holes vs 18 Holes
One of the factors that influence how many calories a golfer can burn while playing is how many holes are played.
Golfers can burn up to 600 calories an hour, depending on the other factors we discuss later.
For context, that is just under the caloric content of a small M&M blizzard from Dairy Queen.
On average, a nine-hole golf round can take about two and a half hours. So, at the high end of the calorie count, that would mean a golfer burns around 1,500 calories a nine-hole round.
That is just a little more than a McDonald’s Big Mac meal with a large side of fries and a large Coca-Cola.
Obviously, for an eighteen-hole golf round, that would be double the calories.
Using the same calorie and time range, that would mean a golfer burns roughly 3,000 calories (on the high end) in the five hours it takes to golf eighteen holes. That’s more than the standard recommendation of a 2,000 calorie day.
But there are a lot of factors that influence how many calories are actually burned. The number of holes played is actually one of the least significant factors when considering calorie burn while playing golf.
Weight of the Golf Bag
When you carry your golf bag, that can add to the number of calories you can burn through playing.
The average golf bag weighs anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds, depending on the golfer and the type of clubs they use for a specific round or course.
Fun Fact: the best golf bags (without clubs) weigh about 7-8 pounds.
When you add the weight of the bag onto your shoulders for an 18-hole round, you are doing roughly the same amount of work it takes to backpack a 5-mile hike.
By far the most influential factor in caloric burn in golf is how the golfer gets around. Obviously, the more work you do and the more you move, the greater the caloric burn.
And how you move around matters…
If you ride in a golf cart from hole to hole and don’t carry your bags, you can expect to burn only 300 calories per hour.
That would mean that you would need to play a whole eighteen-hole round to burn off that large Big Mac meal from McDonald’s we mentioned earlier.
Golf Push Carts
If you use a pushcart to move around the course and aren’t carrying the weight of your bag, then you will probably still burn around 600 calories per hour.
This is because, even though you aren’t carrying your clubs, the energy needed to move the cart will make up for it. So there is a little silver lining–you don’t have to carry your bag from hole to hole to burn more calories.
If you are striving to burn that 600 calories per hour, then you would have to walk and carry your bag.
Walking from hole to hole, from shot to shot, is the most rigorous way to burn calories golfing.
While you do burn calories from swinging the club, it is the more consistent walking that really sheds the calories.
Topography of the Course
We should note that just because you walked the whole round while carrying your bag doesn’t mean you will always burn 600 calories an hour.
Sometimes you may burn more or less, depending on how many ups and down the course has–literally.
The more inclines you have to climb will burn more calories than a course that is rather flat.
Conclusion: How Many Calories Does Golf Burn Per Hour?
Yes, golfing burns calories. There are many factors involved, but golf burns 600 calories per hour (walking or using a push cart), on average, which equates to:
- Burn 1,500 calories playing 9 holes of golf
- Burn 3,000 calories playing 18 holes of golf
Golf is actually on par (no pun intended) with other sports concerning caloric burn per hour if the golfer is walking and carrying their clubs.
As with any type of exercise, the calories burned depends on the golfer themselves. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any questions and before making any drastic changes to your fitness routine. If you enjoy golf or are looking to get started, it is one great way to burn some calories and get a good workout while having fun.
And for fun…here’s Rory McIlroy’s full workout routine.