Ain't no shame in your push-cart game

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.

(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.

On Twitter, many agree that push carts are hardly a sin in the golf world, according to Matt Ginella's poll:

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.

Scott Verplank drives his golf cart down the 18th fairway along side his caddie during the first round of the PGA TOUR Champions Dominion Energy Charity Classic at The Country Club of Virginia on October 20, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia.

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Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
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Commented on

What's important is that people who use these types of carts play 'ready' golf!
It's a fact.
It takes longer for players to walk to their ball than ride in a golf cart.
When they get there, hit the ball!
Sometimes it's better to play your shot while others are searching for another player's ball. You don't need four people to look for a lost ball.
Can't find it in a couple minutes?
Take the penalty and put another ball into play.
It simply doesn't matter how the bag gets carried as long as players are playing 'ready' golf!

Commented on

It isn't as shameful as having someone else carry your clubs like English and Lincicome

Commented on

I switch from carrying to a pushcart at 64 years young. Not because I could not carry the bag but to give my feet a break. Trust me, the pushcart uses as much energy if not more to get around the course. Great exercise and happier feet.

Commented on

Herbert Strong, outstanding golden age architect designed the superb Canterbury Golf Club in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and has also been credited with inventing the "trolley". So it can't be all bad

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Commented on

Anyone missing walking experience is invited to play with the senior league we joined and a great number who push/pull or carry 6200 yards of challenging terrain at MiddletownCC in Langhorne PA in under 4 hours three times a week. Several 80+ players are very fit and have GREAT games (so do the walkers under 80)! We love pushing, pulling, carrying. Did I say under 4 hours? Yep.

Commented on

Golf is a game meant to be walked. I don’t care if you carry or use a cart. Walking is still walking, period. However, due to very bad knees I have to
sometimes ride. It is not an option - ride play/or don’t play. Ugh! This carry/walk or push cart issue is a waste of time and effort. An exercise by the yentas showing their ignorance. Walking is a part of
the game, plain and simple.

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Commented on

I wonder how many pros would opt for a cart if they didn't have a caddy to carry their bags. Why doesn't college allow caddies?

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My thoughts have been echoed many times by previous posts, Harris' and Brittany's comments were elitist, condescending, and insulting to people who don't have the luxury of using a caddy. Let them carry an average sized bag, or especially their monster tour bag for a round and see how their back feels afterwards. Do they honestly believe the college players were any less serious or less competitive because they used a push cart??? Is the essence of golf really how you 'look' while playing? Last time I checked, what was REALLY important was enjoying the challenge of using some sticks to get a ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible.

I was disappointed on another level because I have always been a fan, for Harris because he has Bulldog ties, as do I, and I've always liked Brittany's go for broke style and the way she shows her emotions. It's a million to one shot they will read this, but just know the next time you are in contention I won't be rooting for you, you've shown a really bad side that requires a serious and sincere apology, and a change in attitude.

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Commented on

My daughter is a golfer. She has a permanent post fracture disability affecting her right foot. Bearing wieght over prolonged periods of time, especially on uneven terrain, or having to walk up steep inclines/hills, makes it impossible for her due to severe pain to the point that she starts to limp and at times, can't walk anymore. Add to that, having to carry a very heavy bag filled with men's clubs [that's what she uses], not only results in further exacerbation to her foot, but also causes her severe back pain. She absolutely loves golf, and loves playing in tournaments... but without the use of a push cart, she'd only be able to play par 3 courses, and only if they were on flat terrain. As it is, she can't play in tournaments if there are significant hills/valleys and inclines, unless she is riding - which is rarely allowed. Should she stop playing golf / competing in tournaments because it isn't "cool" to use a push cart or ride [when needed]??? I think not!!! Candidly, players and caddies alike [in competitive and pro golf] should be allowed to ride if they should choose to. Carrying a heavy bag is unhealthy for one's back, no matter what his/her age... Ask any orthopedist! Perhaps all pro golfers should be forced to carry their own bags for the entirety of a 3 - 4 day tournament so they feel the pain their caddies endure before making stupid comments against those who use push carts by [smart] choice and/or medical necessity! Odds are, they wouldn't even last a full round, especially on courses with steep "mountains" and deep "valleys"!

Commented on

I'm eighty three years of age and if I couldn't use a push cart I wouldn't be playing golf

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Ain't no shame in your push-cart game