Golf is be a tremendous form of exercise. While plenty of people who don't play golf think of it solely as a leisure activity without a whole lot of physical exertion, a golfer can burn a lot of calories playing golf.
How many calories are burned player golf during a round, though, depends on a number of factors that the golfer controls. The biggest factor determining how many calories a golfer burns in a round of golf is the choice to walk the course or ride in a cart.
If a golfer choose to walk while playing golf -- either nine holes or 18 holes -- they're going to burn a substantial number of calories.
The golf industry likes to say that a golfer will burn as many as 2,000 calories playing golf if they walk all 18 holes while carrying a golf bag -- which is usually 20-30 lbs. -- on their back. Effectively, walking a round of golf is like taking a 4-5 mile hike while backpacking. It's a lot of work!
Depending on how much an adult golfer weighs, they can typically burn anywhere from 300-600 calories per hour while playing golf as a walker. That can mean a lot of weight loss for a golfer who learns to walk instead of ride in a cart.
During the course of a nine-hole round, which is typically 2-2.5 hours of time, a golfer could burn anywhere from 600-1,500 calories, depending on their weight, the weight of their bag, the topography of the golf course (how many hills and ups-and-downs there are). For an 18-hole round of golf, which can run from 4-5.5 hours, a walking golfer can burn anywhere from 1,200-3,000 calories.
A golfer won't burn quite as many calories if they're walking the course but using a push cart, but the energy expended to push or pull a walking cart will come close to making up the difference.
A golfer who rides in a golf cart throughout the entire round will burn approximately two-thirds of the calories of a golfer who walks. Since golfers who ride in a cart are sedentary as they ride from one shot to the next, they don't get as much physical exercise between shots. However, even golfers who ride will still burn calories when they walk around the green area to hit chip shots, bunker shots and putts. They'll also burn calories walking to and from the tee box, as well walking the fairways here and there.
Of course, a golfer may burn plenty of calories playing the game, but they can also put many of them back depending on what they eat and drink during a round or just after the round is finished. It's important for a golfer to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, but some golfers choose to drink sports drinks for electrolytes or have snacks during the round for energy. Getting protein in the body during the round is a great way to maintain energy levels from the first tee shot to the last putt.