Why doesn’t the PGA allow golf carts?

Golf is often perceived as a leisurely sport, with players leisurely strolling across lush green fairways under the warm sun. However, when it comes to professional golf, particularly the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) Tour, things are quite different. In the world of professional golf, walking is not just a tradition; it’s an essential part of the game.

In this in-depth exploration, we’ll delve into the reasons why PGA pros don’t use golf carts, whether they are allowed to, the case of Tiger Woods, and instances where golf carts have made an appearance on the PGA Tour.

Why Don’t PGA Pros Use Carts?

The Tradition of Walking

Golf, steeped in tradition, has long held the act of walking as a fundamental aspect of the game. The origins of golf in Scotland, where it was played across sprawling, undulating links courses, demanded players to traverse considerable distances on foot. This walking tradition has carried over into modern golf.

Enhancing the Game

Walking, in the context of professional golf, is not just about tradition; it plays a pivotal role in enhancing the game. When players walk the course, they have a unique opportunity to intimately assess the terrain, contours, and conditions. They can feel the undulations underfoot and the subtle nuances of the greens. This sensory experience provides valuable insights that can make or break a shot.

Physical and Mental Endurance

Walking 18 holes, which can span over five miles, is no small feat. It requires physical endurance, strength, and stamina. Beyond the physical aspect, walking the course is also a mental challenge. The quiet, meditative moments between shots allow players to focus, strategize, and maintain their mental composure, a vital element of elite-level golf.

PGA’s Commitment to Tradition

The PGA, as the governing body of professional golf in the United States, is deeply committed to maintaining the traditions of the sport. This commitment extends to the expectation that players will walk the course during tournament play. The PGA believes that adhering to these traditions preserves the integrity of the game and pays homage to its historical roots.

Can PGA Pros Use a Golf Cart?

The PGA’s Official Stance

The PGA has clear rules and regulations regarding the use of golf carts by professional players. In general, the PGA expects players to walk the course. However, it does recognize that certain medical conditions may necessitate the use of a golf cart.

Medical Exemptions

Players seeking to use a golf cart due to medical reasons must go through a rigorous application process. The PGA carefully evaluates medical records and consults with medical professionals to determine whether a cart exemption is warranted. While these exemptions are not handed out lightly, they do exist for those with legitimate medical needs.

Instances of Medical Exemptions

In rare cases, players have been granted medical exemptions to use golf carts. One notable example is Casey Martin, who suffered from a debilitating leg condition called Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome. His case drew widespread attention and sparked a debate about the use of carts in professional golf. Martin’s exemption was ultimately granted, allowing him to compete on the PGA Tour while using a cart.

Extreme Weather Considerations

In some instances, extreme weather conditions such as excessive heat or torrential rain may prompt the PGA to allow the temporary use of golf carts for the safety and well-being of the players. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and are closely monitored.

Why Doesn’t Tiger Woods Use a Golf Cart?

Tiger Woods Health Issues

Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers of all time, has faced his share of health challenges. He has undergone multiple surgeries, particularly on his back and knees, which have significantly impacted his mobility.

A Personal Choice

Despite his health struggles, Tiger Woods has chosen not to use a golf cart during tournament play. This decision is a testament to his determination and commitment to the traditions of the sport. Woods believes in walking the course, even when it might be physically demanding for him.

Has Any PGA Player Ever Used a Cart?

Historical Instances

While the use of golf carts in PGA Tour events is exceptionally rare, there have been a few historical instances where players were allowed to use them. These exceptions are typically made on a case-by-case basis, with the player’s health being the primary consideration.

Notable Examples

One of the most prominent cases of a PGA player using a cart is Casey Martin, as mentioned earlier. His battle to use a cart due to his debilitating leg condition set a precedent. Additionally, Jack Nicklaus used a cart in the 1997 Masters Tournament due to back problems. These instances drew attention and sparked discussions about the role of golf carts in professional golf.

Impact on the Golfing Community

Whenever a player is allowed to use a cart in a PGA Tour event, it generates significant discussion within the golfing community. Some argue that it’s essential to prioritize the health of the players, while others maintain that walking is an integral part of the sport’s challenge and tradition.


In the world of professional golf, the absence of golf carts for PGA pros is a deliberate choice rooted in tradition, a commitment to the game’s integrity, and the physical and mental demands that golfers willingly embrace.

While exceptions are made for those with legitimate medical needs, the expectation remains that players will walk the course, drawing from centuries of golfing history. The case of Tiger Woods, one of the most iconic figures in the sport, exemplifies the deep-seated dedication to this tradition.

As golf continues to evolve, the debate over golf carts in professional play will undoubtedly persist, reflecting the delicate balance between tradition and adaptation in this beloved sport.

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