While many golf players will be well accustomed to using a golf cart to make navigating the greens more manageable, especially when you’re playing over much further distances, it’s quite rare to ever spot professional golf players riding one, especially during the PGA Tour.
They can be seen on the odd occasion, however they are usually reserved for special circumstances rather than being readily available for players to use.
Many people have stated that John Daly is one famous golfer who uses golf carts to travel the greens that most golfers would walk over, but is this true?
And if so, why is John Daly able to use a cart when other golfers cannot? Keep reading to find out more.
Has John Daly Used A Golf Cart?
The well known and experienced golfer John Daly has been using a golf cart during his games since 2012 and is actually the second competitor in a major who has ever done so.
Using golf carts (see also: How Wide Is A Golf Cart?) has been fairly controversial over the last few decades when it comes to professional golf players and it wasn’t until 2001 that they were introduced to assist players with physical disabilities to traverse the greens easier.
This was a decision that actually reached the Supreme Court after Casey Martin, a professional golfer who suffers from the walking disability Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome, was denied the use of a golf cart while advancing through his Qualifying School.
This controversial decision eventually reached the Supreme Court where in 2001, it was agreed that walking was not seen as an integral part of golf and therefore disabled players should always be granted access to carts in order to assist them throughout the game.
Daly was granted a medical exemption for the PGA Championship back in 2012, which is why he is often seen using it, especially when playing on longer and tougher terrain such as New York’s Bethpage Black course.
Why Is John Daly Able To Use A Cart During Games?
John Daly suffers from osteoarthritis in his right knee which makes it extremely hard for him to walk on certain terrain and over long distances, as he himself states “I can walk up a hill, I just can’t walk down one”.
Osteoarthritis can effect the hips and small joints of the hands, however it is most common in the knees and is a degenerative disease that often leads to chronic pain and joint stiffness.
Putting pressure on the knee when walking up and over awkward surfaces can therefore result in a sharp pain that can be especially bad on a golf course filled with hills or banks of sand.
Recent American studies have actually begun suggesting that golfers who suffer from osteoarthritis might be better off walking the golf course rather than using a cart since according to a study that measured the pain score of 15 golfers who played 18 holes, the pain in the knee did not rise high enough to make a significant difference.
Despite these studies however, only the individual will know how much they feel the pain while walking, so in terms of professional golf players suffering from the disease, it’s completely up to them if they decide to apply to use a cart or not during tournaments, however they will be eligible to.
Has John Daly Ever Been Refused The Usage Of A Golf Cart?
While the usage of a golf cart has been gradually more accepted under certain circumstances in American tournaments, it has not received the same treatment around the world.
During a British Open in 2022, John Daly was all set to compete, however he dropped out of the competition just three days before when his request to use a golf cart was denied by The Royal & Ancient Golf Club who considered walking to be an essential part of the tournament that no players, even if they were physically disabled, could be exempt from.
Is There A Stigma Associated With Using A Golf Cart?
While physically disabled players have been able to use golf carts ever since the 2001 Casey Martin case, there is unfortunately still a stigma surrounding their usage in a professional setting.
This all boils down to how much the act of walking is viewed as an integral part of the sport and a debate on whether it is ‘required’ for each and every golfer as part of the game since using a cart can save you energy and allow you to rest easier, which for some players is unacceptable.
In 2021, Tiger Woods was involved in a car accident where his leg was badly damaged, to the point where he was still able to physically play golf, but stated that the real issue was walking the course that was putting more pain on his leg.
While Woods would be more than eligible to be granted permission to use a golf cart in professional tournaments, he has opted to instead miss a few matches since he claims he would never even think of using one.
When he was asked in late 2021 whether he would ever decide to use a cart for professional games, Woods replied “No, absolutely not.
Not for a PGA Tour event, no. That’s just not who I am…If I can’t play at that level, I can’t play at that level”.
Woods is one of the many golfers who would rather miss out on matches and let the years pass them by than simply use a golf cart as a part of their matches, which gives you an idea of just how controversial their usage actually is within professional games and tournaments.
While many modern-day professional golfers will turn down using a golf cart to help with their injuries or disability, John Daly is one of the only golfers to still use one which is why you will rarely see him away from his trusty cart while traversing the greens during a PGA Tour.