It’s happening, people. That happens. Well, we think it happens, anyway.
Tiger Woods could actually star in The Masters this week. Literally “from now on,” Woods says he’s ready to play in the tournament and also feels like he could actually win it.
Now, clearly, that could change. And the big caveat here is his leg. As we all know, Woods injured his leg in the horrific car accident he suffered last year. It’s always a problem. He can physically play golf well, but as he said on Tuesday, walking the course is more problematic.
This point from Woods raised what I thought was a very valid question in my mind which was, “why wouldn’t Tiger just use a golf cart?” Yeah. I asked my colleagues at For the Win. I had to.
Let me start by saying I don’t know anything about golf, y’all. The closest I got to a legit course was Top Golf. And I’m not very good at it. (I can hit the ball a little far but not very far, you know?)
Luckily my co-workers didn’t grill me there. Instead they told me golf carts are basically not allowed. Which was new to me! I mean, golf carts exist for golf. Why wouldn’t they be allowed, right? To the right.
It sent me on a (slightly) deep dive into why carts are taboo in professional golf. Here is what I found.
Well no. But yes, too? They are allowed in special situations, but you must request a special exemption from the PGA Tour to obtain one and use it at a major tournament.
Golf carts have always been cleared for use in recreational golf, but on the PGA Tour, walking on the course has generally been a strict requirement. Until 2001, anyway.
Casey Martin, who is a former PGA Tour golfer, won a case that went to the Supreme Court this eventually allowed him to use a golf cart at touring events.
Martin, who is currently Oregon’s men’s golf head coach, suffers from Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome, a circulatory condition that has atrophied his right leg, preventing him from walking.
He requested an exemption from the PGA’s walk rule in 1997 while on tour. He wanted to use a golf cart, but was refused. He sued the PGA and, after four years, won the case. It is the reason why the PGA may grant exceptions to golfers for special situations.
It makes sense when you think about it on the surface. It introduces endurance into the game. If everyone walks the course, everyone is on an even playing field. It’s all part of the competition.
For Martin, especially in 1997, the tour claimed it could give him an edge over other golfers on the course, by CNN.
PGA officials argue that requiring golfers to walk, which introduces endurance as part of the game, is a fundamental part of competition, and letting Martin ride would give him an advantage.
This is only the surface truth, however. In reality, if you are applying for a cart exemption due to an underlying injury or illness, you are at a greater disadvantage than other competitors in the field due to your condition.
Without the cart exemption, your only choices are to resist or retire if the situation is chronic and serious. It stinks.
We could think. We have all seen the news of Woods’ accident and we also know how serious the injury is at this point.
That kept Woods out of the game for what has essentially been more than a calendar year at this point. Of course, he competed in non-competitive events like the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie. BUT… he also used golf carts for these events.
The thing is, it doesn’t even matter if he could get an exemption or not.
Because Woods said he wouldn’t use a golf cart anyway. It’s “just not who I am,” he said. The use of a cart is legitimately stigmatized.
“No. I wouldn’t, no. No. Absolutely not. Not for a PGA Tour event, no. It’s just not who I am…It’s not how I’ve always been , and if I can’t play at that level, I can’t play at that level.
So here it is, friends. Regardless of whether it can get the exception or not, it just won’t.
It sounds a little silly, but it’s a contender that’s competitive. That’s what it is. Let’s just hope his leg won’t impact his game if he actually plays.