The buggy conundrum

May 19, 2019 - 07:11
Teed Off with Robert Bicknell


By Robert Bicknell


John Daly, who has osteoarthritis in his right knee, has been approved to use a golf buggy during next week’s USPGA Championship at Bethpage Black. The 53-year old Daly also uses one on the PGA “Senior Tour”. He will be the first player to use a buggy in a Major since Casey Martin in the US Open at Olympic Club in 1998 and 2012.

But that did stop Tiger Woods from taking a playful dig at Daly, reminding everyone he won a US Open with a broken leg (his words).

Predictably, Daly wasn’t amused and having read that, I don’t feel bad now about requesting a buggy to play in any events here anymore.

I played a tournament a few years back on a very hilly course where they made all the pros walk, and was in pain by the second fairway. Even more stupidly, I still tried to play the second day when, in fact, I would have been much better off sitting by the pool instead.

 Since then, I have sworn off tournaments, and even casual games, where buggies are not allowed.

People that seem to forget I’m older than they are, sometimes by a considerable margin. They also forget that I too have osteoarthritis in my feet and literally have no cartilage left in the joints of my feet. It’s bone rubbing on bone.

So, you can understand why I have sympathy for John Daly.

If you go back and read some of my columns from the late 90’s – early 2000’s, I had a very different attitude about buggies and “game improvement” equipment back then. I was very much opposed to improvements that allowed players to “buy a better golf game” and believed that players should improve through lessons and practice instead.

Then I got old and my attitude changed 180-degrees. It’s funny how the passage of time and pain will do that to you.

Nowadays, I make sure I have the best fitted equipment and I am always checking out new toys and playing around with different shaft flexes to make sure I am getting the most bang for the buck.

But the biggest problem, of course, remains finding a course where buggies are allowed on fairways. Right now, only The Bluffs and Harmonie allow it, and that will probably change during rainy season, so I don’t expect to be playing a lot.

However, if there is a VPGA Tour event that catches my eye, expect me to whip out the Golf Digest item with John Daly’s exemption and let the quacking begin.

Now, speaking of the PGA Championship, this year it’s at the notorious Bethpage Black, which is a legitimately murderous course, even on a good day, but the good thing, of which there are two, is that (a) The USGA isn’t setting up the course; and (b) its being held in May, so the rough hasn’t had time to grow deep, but that doesn’t make it easy, it just makes it slightly less lethal.

Anh will make this year’s PGA Championship more “interesting” is that Bethpage Black is in New York, a city known for “opinionated” fans who not shy about heckling players they don’t like rather unmercifully.

Therefore, we can expect a lot of ridiculousness from the galleries. One time, they told Patrick Reed (aka Captain America – before he opened his mouth at the last Ruder Cup) to “mix in a salad”. This implies, that Reed, who is a bit chunky, to lose weight. Colin Montgomerie should be thankful he skipped the event.

Funny how they could say that when considering the average weight of most Americans nowadays is closer to that of their favourite transportation… a Ford F150 pick-up truck.

Normally, I only watch the Masters, Open Championship and US Open, but this year looks like it might be more entertaining than usual, especially with Tiger Woods looking to notch another Major into his gunbelt. I have no idea if he will win or not, this is a deeper field than the Masters, but if he gets near the lead, expect the NY crowd to lose their minds.

Tiger has more than just a theoretical chance because he’s got momentum on his side, plus a lot of experience in pressure situations. But, if any course or event will test him, Bethpage Black will for sure. VNS