QA Carts vs Walking GPS Systems

By Frank ThomasJuly 31, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email
Riding or walking, the amount of time it takes to actually hit the same number of shots is the same. A foursome of walkers can play a round in about the same time as a foursome of riders. But the golf cart travels much faster than a person walks. The extra time taken by the riders comes mostly from driving back and forth between each players ball positions, as well as some unnecessary chatter. I guess my point is, since most players ride, wouldn't it be a better idea to give each golfer his own cart and shorten the amount of time a round takes?

Allen Doyle
Allen Doyle quizzes Frank on whether or not tees can increase driving distance on 'Ask Frank,' Monday, Aug. 6 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (WireImages)
I suppose this is in a sense an equipment question, if not it doesn't matter, because I feel reasonably passionate about it, so it gives me an opportunity to vent a little.
First, I do think that carts have some place in golf. Without them, how could we have the cart girls who enable us to have an endless supply of goodies during the round? More seriously though, there are those who genuinely need a cart, and would not be able to play the game without one. For these golfers, the cart is wonderful.
Unfortunately, the sad thing about carts is that they have changed the way courses are being designed (100+ yards between the green and the next tee, passing five homes on the way),making it difficult to walk to the next tee and get there on time. As a result, such courses have made it mandatory to use a cart; if per chance you thought of walking, you would be told it is not permitted. The truth of the matter is that the carts are here to stay, and the income derived from the rental fees will assure their existence forever.
Walking a course using a trolley or carrying your bag is not only the way golf is meant to be played, but it also enhances the experience and as a side benefit is equivalent to an average 45-minute workout in the gym. If we walked periodically it would improve our quality of life in general as well as allow us to develop enough stamina to finish our rounds with some gas to spare.
Fred, I am sure that we can speed up play if everybody takes his own cart, but we can also speed up play if we carry our own bags or take a caddie. Golf has changed and carts haven't made it any better. Yes, in many cases carts make the game more accessible to people who really need these aids, but they have also contributed to a 'physique' that today requires us to use the very thing that helped make it that way. Besides, when you use a cart you forfeit the excuse that youre just out for the exercise.
Carts and cart paths are only one example of how we have allowed the game to be exploited and how course design has changed for the worse. I hope the cart has not irrevocably debilitated our game.
Sorry, but I do have an opinion about this piece of equipment.
Let me preface this question by saying that, being the golf fanatic, techie and equipment freak that I am, I look forward to your emails. The one question I have is, Why has the tour not allowed handheld GPS's in tournament play? I notice that the yardage books they use seem like novels, probably having hand written notes such as slope of greens, best place to put the ball depending on pin position, elevation difference for club selection and where to miss the green. They probably wouldn't go to a GPS system instead, but if it was allowed on tour then for the most part any USGA/RCGA sanctioned event we play as amateurs would have a tough time not allowing them, and it would help, be it for lay-ups, distance to the front and back of the green, etc. Until they have one that can pull the trigger' for us, I don't see what the objection could be. What's your opinion on this?
Regards, and thanks again for the column,

In my June 07 Frankly newsletter (click to view), I discussed this very issue and asked our readers for their opinion. Of those who voted, 83% agreed with you, i.e., that EMDs (Electronic Measuring Devices) should be permitted on the PGA TOUR and in major championships.
As you know, use of these devices is not a violation of the rules for most of us. A recent change allows for them under a local rule, which as far as I am concerned means everyday playing conditions. Officially the local rule has to be adopted by the club or course, but this is implied when the cart you ride in has a GPS, or the flags have laser reflectors, etc. The exact wording from the USGA is as follows:
New Decision 14-3/0.5 allows a Committee to permit the use of distance-measuring devices by Local Rule. This applies to devices that measure distance only, not any other conditions that might affect a players play (e.g., wind or gradient). In the absence of such a Local Rule, the use of a distance-measuring device remains contrary to the Rules.
This means that unless the PGA TOUR and other committees in charge of Championships or Tournaments adopt the local rule, these devices are not permitted. I cant imagine why they havent adopted it, and I have to believe that will change in the future.
As you say, it doesnt make sense, but it sometimes takes time for us to get over some traditions. I suggested 14 years ago that this rule 14-3 be amended, because I saw no logic to it. The USGA and others provide hole location sheets for each day of a championship, they allow yardage booklets and the printing of sprinkler heads with exact distances to the green (center, or front, or both plus the back), so theres no reason why an electronic device couldnt be used to provide the same information, only quicker. Nonetheless, the rule didnt change because of logic, but because millions of golfers were ignoring a rule that made no intuitive or common sense. When millions of golfers ignore a rule, it is time to consider how meaningful it is.
I must admit that I am a traditionalist and would like to hold on to as many traditions in the game as possible, but not to the games detriment. We used to wear ties and knickers, even on hot summer days. Some things do change; of this I am as sure as God made little green apples.
Thanks for your very good and logical question.
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.