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20 Courses and Resorts for Golfers Who Love to Walk

by Craig Better

Oct222013

erin-hills-11There were plenty of passionate reactions to the “Ultimate Cart Chart” I published a few days ago.

Some of you appreciated me clarifying which top courses in the UK and Ireland offer “buggies” or at least have one available if you have a physical need.

But a number of you wanted to know the reverse/opposite; summarized by this comment from J. Dilks:

“How about a similar list of the top destinations in the U.S. and Canada that will allow, or even better, encourage walking?”

A very good question, JD, and we can even up the ante with courses that are “walking only.”

I think we all know a few, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a comprehensive list.

So here it is (or at least the beginnings of one): top public golf courses and resorts in North America where walking is mandatory (except with a medical note) or highly encouraged:

Walking-Only Golf Courses

Erin Hills Golf Course (Wisconsin)
While ownership has changed since landing the 2017 U.S. Open, the cart policy has remained exactly the same: motorized carts are not allowed — and get this — pull/push carts aren’t, either. Your only option is to carry your bag or hire a caddie to do it for you.

Bandon Dunes Resort (Oregon)
Bandon Dunes promises, “Golf as it Was Meant to Be,” and its walking-only policy is a big part of the experience. You can use a pull-cart or carry your bag, but I’d recommend using one of the highly capable caddies.

Ballyneal Golf Club (Colorado)
Technically private, this Tom Doak-designed beauty in Colorado’s northeastern “chop hills” allows,”limited outside play including Stay & Play specials for certain dates,” but it doesn’t allow carts.

Bethpage Black Golf Course (New York)
Unlike the other courses at Bethpage State Park, the Black Course is walking only, but I wouldn’t advise carrying your own bag through this torture test. Instead, hire a caddie or rent a pull-cart for $5.

Chambers Bay Golf Course (Washington)
Chambers Bay may not yet rival Bethpage Black, but the two have a lot in common: it’s a muni, it’s a U.S Open site (2015), and it’s walking only. One area that Chambers Bay beats Bethpage? Its pull carts are included in the price.

Whistling Straits, Straits Course (Wisconsin)
This major championship site promotes walking in a major way: prior to twilight, you’re required to walk with a caddie. After twilight, you can carry your own bag or rent a pull cart for $13.

Cabot Links (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser is involved in this top-shelf project, too (which has a second course in the works), so it’s no surprise Cabot Links is also a pure, “walking only” facility. Caddies and pull carts are available.

Walking Encouraged or Walking Friendly Golf Courses

There’s a difference between courses that “allow walking” and those that actively encourage it. The below courses fall into the latter category:

We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Saguaro Course (Arizona)
This Coore/Crenshaw course was “built for walking” and makes Sun Mountain Speed Carts available for those who want to do so.

Kiawah Island Resort, Ocean Course (South Carolina)
This major championship site is delightfully walking-only before noon.

The Dormie Club (North Carolina)
Now allows carts, but leans toward its walking-only roots.

Madden’s on Gull Lake (Minnesota)
I didn’t see anyone walking on my last visit, but this year it established the “2013 Walking Initiative” for all of its 63 holes.

The Prairie Club (Nebraska)
Similar to Dormie Club: now allows carts but established as walking only.

Harbour Town Golf Links (South Carolina)
Encourages walking by restricting carts to paths year round.

Pebble Beach Golf Links (California)
Same here; plus Pebble is known for its highly capable caddie corps.

Willingers Golf Club (Minnesota)
One of the top values in the U.S.A is also walker-friendly.

May River Golf Club (South Carolina)
Jack Nicklaus signature course accessible to guests of the Inn at Palmetto Bluff.

Treetops Resort, Tradition Course (Michigan)
Designed as a walking course. Carts now allowed, but still no cart paths.

Common Ground Golf Course (Colorado)
Tom Doak/Jim Urbina redo where caddies are included in the walking rate.

Streamsong Resort, Blue and Red Courses (Florida)
Tom Doak (Blue) and Coore/Crenshaw (Red) layouts were designed and built to be walked.

Pinehurst Resort, Courses 1-8 (North Carolina)
“Our belief is the caddie has the greatest impact on the golf experience.”

What do you think of my list? Do you know of other publicly accessible courses that are “walking only” or those that actively encourage it?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rob Chesnut October 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

Good list — folks should play Ballyneal while they can, it will not be available for public play much longer. I’d add Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz, CA as one of the country’s great walking courses that the public can play.

2 Herschel Hoffmann October 22, 2013 at 11:15 am

Pebble Beach and spyglass Hill are both no carts on the fairways!

3 J Dilks October 22, 2013 at 11:33 am

Thanks for the list. This should occupy my golf vacation time for a few years.

4 Rob Tyska October 22, 2013 at 11:36 am

Two of my favorite public courses in the east that have caddies are Bulle Rock in Maryland and Atlantic City Country Club.

5 dave johnson October 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

Include the other Pebble beach corses, Spanish Bay, Spyglass, and Del Monte.

6 Ted October 22, 2013 at 11:49 am

When you get older, a rule against carts or not allowing them on fairways is often an imposition. Most of the courses on this list charge exorbitant fees and certainly could permit it.

7 MARK FITZGERALD October 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Ireland has many courses that push for walking, Lahinch, Ballybunion, Tralee, Waterville, Old Head, to mention a few and that is only on the West Coast of Ireland.

8 TL October 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Absolutely NEED a caddie at Erin Hills–to understand the course and also fairly hilly. Only the tough should carry their own! Actually didn’t see anyone without a caddy.

9 Scott October 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm

One of the things that discourages walking is the huge treks from one green to the next tee on some of these modern courses. Understandable on a housing development style course perhaps, but to really enjoy golf you should walk and carry a light bag. My favs overseas were St Andrews, N.Berthwick, Prestwick and Royal St George which I played 45 holes in one day and 36 on most of the others, all walking. I’m 56 btw, and part of the reason I can still do that is because I DO WALK! I also noticed all the UK locals walk, 4-somes play in 3 1/2 hrs, and you don’t see a lot of fat youngsters riding carts! They also use more public transport, walk to subways, and between trams. If you walk 2-4 miles a day, you won’t get fat!
In NAmerica, Pasatiempo is one of my favs, its old school, close tees and greens, and even courses with the odd hill like it can be a pleasure if you don’t have these ridiculous 1/4 mile walks between holes! I think that slows the game, and makes people opt for carts too often. If you must cart, try this, take 1 cart for a 3 or 4-some, and alternate every 6 holes. Build up to it. When I turn 80, then I can ride, and even then I’ll hold off as long as I can! Hope I live long enough to shoot my age. lol.

10 Doug October 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I fully agree with Ted. Walking Only courses discriminate against older golfers. This walking only kick may sell to health golfers, but a cart and a beverage gal still has a place in the hearts of many.

11 @CBusGolfers October 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Great list! I’ve played Dormie, Streamsong, Pinehurst, and Kiawah. This list could serve as a Who’s Who of top public access courses these days. I had now idea Ballyneal was taking public play. That course plus CommonGround and Prairie Club would make for a helluva buddies trip.

12 Tom October 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Torrey Pines is crawling with golfers pushing their carts.

13 John October 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

In response to Ted’s insinuation that walking-only courses discriminate against older golfers, you should have said that walking-only course discriminate against lazy golfers. How about the member at Muirfield who has broken his age in his 60′s, 70′s, 80′s and 90′s, AND still carries his own clubs?

14 Fred October 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Ghost Creek at Pumpkin Ridge far better golf course than Chambers Bay and very walker friendly. No caddies but golf carts available and included. Minor elevation changes throughout the course.

15 john chapple October 22, 2013 at 10:21 pm

I am 78. shoot my age at least once a month and always walk, although with a push cart at home course. Played Torrey Pines last week and carried 7 clubs while the other three, a couple in their 60s and an older single, who shot 34 on the back nine of the North course, pushed their carts.

16 Scott October 23, 2013 at 9:36 am

One thing that I would like to add concerning the Treetops course. They may allow walking, but no one does. It is a VERY lengthy ride to the first tee from the club house (maybe 10 to 15 minutes) and a VERY long ride back. I asked the proshop if I could walk and they said OK, but they would have to find someone to take me out there and I could call them to get a ride back.

17 Scott October 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I would add Pine Needles and Mid Pines to this list. Both are great to walk.

18 David Reh October 23, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Cobbs Creek in Philly (done by Merion’s designer Hugh Wilson) has carts. But one of my fondest memories is playing for $1.50 in the early 1960′s with my Dad and carrying his and my bag up Cardiac Hill (after playing 17) to get to the finishing hole. Walking is still the best!

19 Jordan J. Caron October 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Nice list and good to see so many minimialist courses on this list from the likes or Doak, Coore & Crenshaw. I’ll be playing the Bandon courses for the first time next week.

I thought Dormie Club was private?

20 Greg October 30, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I agree with a lot of this banter but I must add “to each is own”. By that I mean, golf can be enjoyed a number of ways. I have walked St. Andrews, Bandon, Pebble, Kapalua, among others but what I really enjoy is golfing with my member friends at our home course with a power cart, cooler, music and side wagers that get paid in the lounge. And this all happens on a, god willing, beautiful day. This is social golf at its finest that gets me away from work, family responsibilities, and all other stresses in a persons busy life.

21 Ben Carey November 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Dormie actually makes it rather hard to walk. They won’t allow you to carry your own bag on most days and at most times. You need to either take a cart (no up charge) or pay for a caddie. It is a wonderful course to walk, but they appear to have deviated from their roots as opposed to embracing them. Great course though – highly recommended.

22 Doug Rather November 6, 2013 at 4:47 pm

The Dormie Club–not sure. I played it yesterday and brought my pull cart. Was told they did not allow pull cartsw, but I could carry if I wanted. So choices are carry on your back, take a caddy or cart.

23 Richard Klemp December 31, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I walk and carry my bag, unless it is 100 degrees or distances from greens to tees are real long…But my suggestion is that when people make tee times they specify if they are riding or walking so that the starter can pair walkers with each other and same for riders. That way they could space them better and improve the pace of play.

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