Golf Without Your Clubs

A Walk Worth Taking

Few golfers ever walk a course without their clubs.  Keeping your clubs in your trunk, ready for action, is almost a given among “serious” players.  But after taking a few such walks myself, I’ve learned that it’s a journey every golfer can benefit from.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You’re struggling with strategy and course management

You’re in a rut with your play or your enjoyment of the game

Driver vs. Passenger

Playing golf is similar to driving a car.  You’re looking around to some extent, but your focus is on your specific path from Point A to Point B.

Walking the course without clubs is like being a passenger.  Freed from responsibility, you can look around and notice things you’ve never seen before, even if you’ve driven that road a thousand times.  Taking the passenger’s view can yield many benefits.

The Warm, Fuzzy Stuff

One of the first club-free walks I took was early in the morning on Pinehurst No. 4.  Without the “burden” of getting my ball into the hole, my perspective widened immeasurably.  I took in so much more of the beauty of the course than I ever could while playing.  The walk filled me with gratitude for being able to golf, and to simply be, in such a beautiful environment.

In addition to removing my blinders, walking without clubs removed the emotional baggage that can sometimes come with playing.  As much as we all love golf, no one can deny that it has the potential to fill us with tension, disappointment, and frustration.  Being on a course and feeling only positive emotions can be a refreshing experience.

Finally, a word to those who ride.  I understand that riding is a requirement for some golfers, but I encourage you to find or create the opportunity to walk.  You cannot appreciate the course the same way at 15 MPH that you can at 3 MPH.  Even if it’s for only a couple holes, enjoy the walk.

The Stuff That Will Improve Your Score

As much as walking without clubs has improved my feelings about the game, it has improved my play more.  Most importantly, it helps me realize how many options each hole presents.  When we play, we tend to fall into routines, like hitting driver on most holes.  This narrows our focus to only the part of the course that’s in our landing area.  When we walk, we see the entire hole.  That may open our eyes to hitting a shorter club off the tee to a wider part of the fairway or a better angle.

Around the green, most players will only see the area short of the green when they play.  By walking without clubs, you may realize that many holes are kind to those who hit it too far.

By seeing more options, we enhance our ability to be creative on the golf course.  Having seen the slopes of a green, we may try to use them to our advantage on a pitch shot.  Putting ideas like that into your head on one course will have positive effects when you play others, even ones you haven’t scouted.

Finally, by seeing the course more broadly, you’ll gain more insight into golf course design.  This puts you “inside the head” of the architect and allows you to play smarter golf.  You’ll start to see the typical traps that designers use, and you’ll be able to avoid them.


Whether you’re walking a resort course at dusk or your home course at dawn, I think you’ll find it to be an experience that refreshes your perspective on the game.

If you’ve found other benefits from walking without clubs, please share them with the Plugged In Golf community in the comments section below.

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Matt Saternus

Founder, Editor In Chief at
Matt is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Plugged In Golf. He's worked in nearly every job in the golf industry from club fitting to instruction to writing and speaking. Matt lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two daughters.

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  1. How do you do this? Do you ask or pay??

    • Matt Saternus


      It depends on the course. My experience doing this is in the morning at a resort where I’m staying or at my local muni where it’s easy to just walk on. When in doubt, I would ask first.



  2. I think even better experience is to caddy for a friend. That gets you even deeper to strategy and thinking, without responsibility of hitting shots. And still time to admire the course and nature (if any) around. And I fully agree that walking is the true golf, not cart. But I must also agree that a nice walk without clubs, aimed at trying to evaluate best landing areas, best targets for various pin positions and just look around could be nice. One of my best, if not the best golf related experience, was walking around 17th green at St Andrews and stepping into and judging the Road Bunker on my way from pub at the midnight before I played it… ;-)

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