The 2018 NCAA golf championships wrap up this week in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
And for pretty much the only time on the televised competitive golf calendar, players don't have caddies alongside them.
Instead, many players, both men and women, have been using push carts.
Naturally, some Golf Channel viewers, including pro golfers Harris English and Brittany Lincicome, were taken aback at how the game looks with the trolleys as opposed to caddies or players carrying their own golf bags and took to Twitter.
I have questions. Do they travel with their own push carts? Do they put trendy stickers on them? Is there a pocket for all their feelings?— Brian Harman (@harmanbrian) May 30, 2018
(By the way, I was reminded on a recent trip to Scotland that the biggest difference between a "push" cart and "pull" cart is the number of wheels: Two-wheelers are pull carts while three wheels, which the St. Andrews Links Trust had on hand, have three. Most of the college players are using push carts.)
The pushback, harmless as it is, is a gentle reminder that while the pro game is aspirational and influential in many ways, their perspectives - on conditions, course setup or pre-shot routines - aren't necessarily the ones amateurs should echo.
I’m not defending pull/push carts. I have never used one. I’m defending golf against those that constantly ridicule or degrade the common amateur from just going out and enjoying the game. Didn’t know I’d have to read the entire “Elitist Rules of How to REALLY Play Golf” book.— Bryan Tweed (@BryanTweed16) May 30, 2018
On Twitter, many agree that push carts are hardly a sin in the golf world, according to Matt Ginella's poll:
Harris English has a hard time taking college golf seriously because of pull carts. Brittany Lincicome agreed. As for me, I’m a big fan. Much like short courses, they’re great for kids, seniors, and everything in between. Your thoughts?— Matt Ginella (@MattGinellaGC) May 30, 2018
I grew up carrying my bag, but it isn't for everyone, particularly as we age. In fact, some argue that it's detrimental to your game. Titleist Performance Institute published an article on the subject in 2016 that sourced research that said carrying can pose a greater risk to injury of the ankles, back and shoulder. But to be fair, the author also says a "buggy" is the safest way to play golf, which I would only endorse if the round is in scorching heat or on seriously sherpa-like terrain.
"Stand bags" were a relatively new invention when I entered my peak junior golf years in the 1990s and a push cart was never a consideration (The AJGA didn't permit non-motorized carts until 2009). The Ping carry and Hoofer bags remain icons of my youth. But as I enter my mid-30s, I've found myself pining for push carts more and more. In fact, April was the first time I exclusively took a trolley on a golf trip. I used one for all my rounds in St. Andrews (which included two 36-hole days), and loved it.
It makes a lot of sense for a few reasons:
- You can pack more in your golf bag, like rain or cold-weather gear. On golf trips where you pack more balls, snacks, etc., you don't want to unload your bag before every round like you normally would when carrying.
- It's less wear-and-tear on your back, which I've found not only aids your posture in the golf swing but benefits the freshness your feet.
- In the summertime in the South, you won't soak your back full of sweat carrying over your shoulders.
The only downside to a push cart, in my opinion, is if you spray a ball way offline into the dunes, it's best to leave your bag at the edge of the fairway rather than schlep it up uneven wispy dune grass, which can result in some backtracking.
When considering the game is most enjoyed walking, they are a wonderful alternative to motorized golf carts. While I don't yet own a push cart (basically because so much of my golf is played on the road), I do hope to one day invest in one, perhaps a motorized, remote-control model that is so prevalent in the U.K.
So, push carts on TV are hardly a style faux pas. But do you want to know what does look ridiculous? The Champions Tour's policy of pros being allowed to ride carts while caddies must run alongside like wet black Labrador retrievers. At least get the players on a Golfboard or Segway or something.