Carting Around Your Opinions

RSS

Last week, I dissected the controversy over whats brewing on the Champions Tour over the right to use a golf cart during competition. I stated some background on the issue and gave my opinions on the matter. I feel like carts have worn out their welcome on a tour that is becoming more competitive by the year.
 
Super Seniors can have them, go ahead and use them on early-week pro-am days to keep fresh for the opening bell of competition, but thats it. Certainly I expected to rev up some engines. And I did in fact receive countless responses with your opinions on the matter. Based on the responses Ive received over the last week, truth be told, about 70-75 percent of you feel strongly that carts should not be kept on the Champions Tour. However, some of those who oppose that viewpoint gave some compelling reasons. And that is the idea behind this weeks column.
 
Obviously, I share my opinions from week to week and in doing so, solicit and receive so many interesting responses that I feel like you should see some of what I get.
 
So here we go. Each of these comments comes from a different reader. This is just a sampling of the best thoughts that came my way on the issue of CARTS.
 
  • I got to keep score for Zarley (Kermit) one year, quite the gentleman. Unfortunately, I have to agree with you that playing for less-than-super seniors should be about hoofing, hitting, etc. Being a relatively fit 58+yr. old, I say let the super seniors ride, but only if need be. Let the others walk and make their money.
     
  • I definitely enjoy your work on the Golf Channel and am a fan of yours, but with all due respect, the golf cart issue on the seniors tour is not about anyones opinion on competition, its about the law. If I read ADA right, a person cannot be discriminated against in the workplace based upon a disability. If they can prove disability....they must be accommodated.
     
  • I suspect the real motivation around banning carts has to do with thinning out the competition for the 'young' guys on the tour. Guys like Hale Irwin and Craig Stadler are great for the Champions Tour. They bring both name recognition and skills that, on their best days, are still good enough to compete at the 'highest levels'. But theres a reason theyve given up the regular tour for the Champions Tour, and its not because they miss the competition. Let em ride!
     
  • Heres one way of looking at it: if Jack Nicklaus ever decides to start advocating golf carts for the senior pros, then the battle is probably lost. Until he does (and I sincerely hope he doesnt!), the other guys like Fiori and Purtzer will just have to work on staying fit as best they can.
     
  • Our friend John Feinstein who wrote the best sellerA Good Walk Spoiledwould have to rewrite his book and entitle itEasy Rider or Have Clubs...Will Travel or Golf is a Joy Ride. Alsoif carts were allowedsay goodbye to those spontaneous peripatetic interviews as golfer and announcer can no longer walk together down the fairway. Bummer! (or is itHummer? Can you imagine? Give me a brake!!! (Sorry, I couldnt resist.) We would have to use the word choke again if we allowed carts out on cold days. (Almost as bad as the wordshank!!!) Carts tend to isolate and insulate golfers from people, cameras and spectators. Not a good idea for television or for competition.
     
  • I go to the Champions events'Im in Minnesota, so its the 3M event for me'to see my heroes from the 60s and on up. This summer I got an autograph from Billy Casper; I was at Winged Foot in 59 when he won the Open. I couldnt care less if he or any of them need carts. I am there to see Billy Casper play golf, not to see just another medal play golf tournament, but with older men. You are too young to clearly remember the first few Legends events, but what this tour has lost, if anything significant, is that charm.
     
  • I say if a player cant walk the course but can hit the ball, that is all that should matter. Your attitude is silly elitist and small minded. Golf skills are what count and some folks need a little help getting around so be it. The game itself will take care of weeding out the competition. As for damaging the Champions Tour image, putting up spiteful barriers like no carts lets me know how small minded this tour is. Oh by the way Im not over 50.
     
  • Who ever said that life was fair? If the Champions are so insulted that they have so much talent yet only lack...physical fitness, back health, foot health, ankle health, endurance, heart heath, etc...that they need to be babied with carts and the like.... (then) imagine how the rest of us feel who have preserved our health, work hard on our endurance, our strength, our back health, our heart health, etc....and, all we lack is talent. You dont see us running off to the Department of Justice complaining about our Disabilities (that is, lack of talent).
     
  • I am a horrible golfer but a great chiropractor. Its not the walking that will hurt a persons back, its the swing the long-time golfers have. Especially the swing the champions learned and grew up with. The walking will keep all of us playing longer so get out of the cart. The walking will keep all of us playing longer so get out of the cart.
     
  • I am 54 and I walk when I play golf. However I want to see Nicklaus, Palmer and all the other guys from my era play as often as they can. Honestly the gentlemen you mentioned (Zarley, Fiori, Purtzer) can go play horseshoes as far as I care, but if a cart keeps Craig Stadler or Hale Irwin or Larry Nelson out there a day longer then let them ride.
     
  • You couldnt have been more correct. This is like Joe Montana or Dan Marino before they had retired asking the NFL that quarterbacks shouldnt be touched at all, so they can play a few more years. You cant just make up rules as you go along. Joe and Dan wouldnt because their part of the same league as their competitors (Champions Tour), like their teammates or the (Champions Tour). Its a sport, you will get to old to play competitive after awhile. Hang it up if you cant play on Tour by the rules put forth by your peers. Bow out and be thankful for what you have now and what you accomplished.
     
    Note: The players on the Champions Tour who are fighting to keep the carts are not asking to change the rules. They just dont want the rules changed to go against them. In other words, dont take from us what has already been given.
     
  • I agree with you 100%. Two reasons: One: golf is a competition and fitness should be a part of it. Two: As a spectator, I find it impossible to follow a group around 18 holes and see all the shots, because all Im trying to do is catch up all the time. As a result, the only Senior event I ever attend is the Senior Open, because there are no carts allowed. After all, spectators arent allowed carts. By the way, Im 56 and I have to accept that someday I wont be able to follow a group from 1 thru 18. The pros have to accept that someday they might not be able to compete at the highest levels because of their age.
     
  • Im with you 100% on the cart thing. Fiori and Purtzer and Zarley seem to feel that they are entitled to carts, just as some people think they are entitled to park (illegally) in handicapped parking spaces because they are fat and have a hard time walking 100 yards into the food store. There is no such thing as entitlement, especially in activities where skill is required to win. Maybe the tour could do a cart net division, and the fat gimpy guys with cigars who ride could get strokesIf the Champions
    Tour wants to continue to attract sponsors and viewers so the players can make a living, then they need to ditch the carts and tell the guys to get on the treadmill.
     
  • Top levels of Golf require top levels of fitness with finely tuned bodies having all parts in working order. This is true for all levels of competitive sport. There comes a point in every athletes career when the effects of ageing cause performance problems and reduce ones abilities to be competitive. Eventually disability sets in and one must cease the activity at that time or risk causing serious damage to both body and ego. Of course there are competitive levels for people with disabilities, but for whatever reason, not in professional golf. There are leagues for many disabled athletic sports, but not for athletes relying on external power devices, and certainly not at a professional level. I dont think the world is prepared to watch (pay money to watch) disabled athletes compete. The playing fields of professional athletic events must be maintained so that the survival of the fittest is the one of the prime considerations. There is no place for disabled players in this arena.
     
  • Theres a big difference between a young man with a degenerative disease than an older man with a sports injury that is worsening. In all sports injuries come with the territory. Some injuries end careers. In the case of (Casey) Martin, you have a talented young player with a very small window of time in which he can compete. He is clearly as fit as he can be with a leg that is diminishing in size and strength, thats not an issue. If any pro out there thinks that a cart is an advantage for Casey maybe he should try playing a few rounds on one leg, learning to swing without being able to load up the right side, etc. Casey is such a rare case. How many other young athletes with a degenerative physical disability are going to attain such a level of skill that they could actually compete on the PGA Tour or in any other pro sport? If a cart is all the help Casey needs to compete against the best on one leg than it is the correct decision to allow him to use one. Sorry, Champions Tour guys, but if playing your sport and lack of fitness is what contributed to your condition you shouldnt get relief. Like Gayle Sayers or Bobby Orr, two of the greatest in their sports, they only had a short time to shine. At least these guys had their shot.
     
  • I agree 100% with your position regarding walking on the Champions Tour! Golf struggled for years with its perception as to whether it truly is an athletic sport, and walking over 5 miles in a round confirms that fitness is definitely required to succeed at pro golf. For the most part, the guys and gals at the top of the golf rankings nowadays are extremely fit and if you want to join the club you better hit the gym hard! Its like saying that a baseball, basketball, or football player can no longer run, if thats the case, their career is over! There are definite advantages to the golfer who rides over the walkers when you look at tournament conditions, weather, etc. Those guys who cant walk between ages 50 and 60 (Super Seniors), can make another comeback at the Super Senior level where everyone can ride.
     
  • Shame on Rick George (Champions Tour President). Carts make the Champions Tour ugly? Showing players who continue to press on in spite of physical handicaps telegraph a spirit of dedication...says a lot to the public, especially youngsters taking up the game, about overcoming obstacles and disappointments. This...is about competition and the perception of the tour with tremendous star appeal. Competition is not about walking a golf course. Star appeal? They already have it. Many of my friends really enjoy watching their golf heroes of yesterday as well as the stars of today and tomorrow. Golf is about putting the ball in the hole...about the score...but its also a reflection of that determination to succeed in the face of long odds. A Champions Tour should be just that. If you need a doctors note to play then wait till sound men are done playing and then like me go out and enjoy yourself when.
     
  • Golf professionals are like any other pro. If they cant cut the mustard, then its time to go to recreational golf like the rest of the world. Time to retire or get a real job. The PROS are allowed a caddy, and walking the course is a major part of being a pro golfer. Endurance is a huge part of being a true champion. Giving a touring pro a golf cart is like giving a running back a 4 -wheeler because he has a sore knee. Sorry, I have very little compassion for professional athletes as they are extremely well paid for doing something the rest of us do simply because we love the game.
     
  • Most of the time I agree with you on the issues you write about, but this time you are way off base. The Senior PGA Tour was conceived as a place for the old retired big bellied golfers to get together have a good time and show the aging public golfer there is golf after age 50. Who would have thought 25 years ago they would be playing for millions of dollars in prize money today on a tour that nobody at the time excepted to even exist for this long. Now certain people want to bring the PGA Tour and the Senior PGA Tour on the same level. Let them ride like wind.
     
  • No sport owes an athlete special exemptions no matter who they are or what theyve done in the past. If some think they need to show the old faces, they can have a parade.
     
  • I cant help but wonder if one of the legends of the game like Arnie, Jack, or Lee still wanted to play, but needed a cart, and the fans would flock to see them, would this still be on the table?
     
  • Golf is a game. It has rules. People need to conform to rules of the game to compete legitimately. People with disabilities prohibiting them from competing at their highest level without infringing on the rules governing the game are not being discriminated against. They are simply no longer able to compete in a game that has provided them with a source of income. Get your body in shape to conform to the rules of the game or succumb to the inevitable and move on. This does not belong in the courts. If golf is recognized as an honorable game where the competitors have the time honored tradition of respect for the rules to protect the integrity of the game, then people must realize when they are putting themselves ahead of the game.
     
    And I leave this one for last:
     
  • On November 7th I will be turning 56 with all the aches and pains and squeaks that accompany the advance of senior-dom. Over the past year, I started working out 3 times a week with a buddy from work. Nothing too strenuous. Twenty minutes on the bike and another forty-five doing light weights and stretches. The results have been remarkable for me. For the first time in 10 years or so, Ive been carrying my bag and loving it. My game hasnt suffered; in fact, in some aspects its even improved. I agree with you. I think athletes should be well tuned in order to compete at the highest level and that there comes a time when those who arent prepared to put forth the effort to stay in shape should consider stepping aside.
     
    Some great arguments on both sides. This issue is sure to be decided in the coming months, most likely before the first tournament of 2005s Champions Tour season. Im not unsympathetic, or unwilling to see the other side. The beauty of all of this is the forum. I get my column each week on this site, and I hope Ive shown you that you get a voice too!
     
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann