Stepping up has its share of hurdles

IAN GILLESPIE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

The players were counting strokes, but I was counting steps.

I'm pretty sure I scored higher.

After clipping a pedometer (the digital device shown below that tallies footsteps) onto my belt, I walked the CN Canadian Women's Open course at the London Hunt and Country Club during yesterday's second round of play.

The idea was to calculate the distance an average spectator might cover if they followed a threesome around the course, which is listed as 6,611 yards in length. Of course, that's an as-the-crow-flies estimate that doesn't take into account the fact that spectators follow a more circuitous route than golf balls (which may sport dimples, but don't complain about blisters).

I started my pedometer as soon as I crossed the threshold of the main gate, so my total doesn't include the distance from the parking park. But I logged 832 steps just to reach the first tee, where I joined a gaggle of spectators trailing Brazilian golfer Candy Hannemann and Americans Sophie Gustafson and Christina Kim, who had played the back nine first.

By the time I reached the first green, I'd logged 1,307 steps. That meant it had taken about 500 steps tee to green -- a tally that later proved to be about the average number of steps per hole.

By the time I'd reached the fourth tee, I'd taken 2,450 steps, drank one bottle of water and felt a desperate need to empty my bladder.

Only after consulting a map did I later discover there are only three washroom stations on the course (there are others in the clubhouse and catering compound). Oblivious to this situation and convinced I would see a portable toilet round the next bend, I trekked onward, my attention to the golfers waning as the pressure on my bladder was increasing.

In a buoyant mood after answering the call of nature, my spirits lifted even higher when I realized spectators aren't allowed near the seventh green or eighth tee. Now almost giddy with joy, I made a 74-step detour to a Haagen-Dazs ice cream vendor, where I availed myself of a caramel almond crunch bar.

By the time I'd reached the ninth green, I'd logged 6,152 steps and decided I preferred covering sports where the spectators mainly stay seated.

Although it took fewer steps -- 6,092 in total -- to hike around the back nine holes (where I passed various threesomes), the trek was tougher. I attribute this to a) hilly terrain, b) poor conditioning and c) a distinct lack of couches and pina coladas on the golf course.

In the end, I reached the 18th green after taking a total of 12,244 steps and, according to my pedometer, covering about 8.8 kilometres.

According to the pamphlet included with my pedometer, the average person takes about 4,000 steps daily. Since I covered more than three times that amount in about four hours, I've sensibly decided to spend the weekend watching the tournament on TV and confining my movement to the 22 steps between my couch and refrigerator.


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