My Shot Penalizing older Champions pros by taking away their carts fails to address the real problem

March 01, 2004

We've been using carts on the Champions tour for 25 years, and
there has never been a problem. Last year, though, the tour
introduced a new rule saying that starting in 2005, a Champions
player can ride only if he qualifies under the Americans with
Disabilities Act, the legislation that allowed Casey Martin to
ride on the PGA Tour.

The no-cart policy is going to be a problem for a lot of guys out
here who want carts and who don't understand why this is suddenly
an issue. To me, the motivation behind the policy is pretty
clear: They are trying to get rid of the old guys. That's all
there is to it.

There are only four or five players who've been vocal in
criticizing the use of carts. They simply don't want tour players
to ride. Among other reasons, they claim that carts are a
distraction to the fans. I have done a little survey over the
last two years. During every pro-am I've asked my partners, "Are
the carts a distraction?" Of the hundreds of players I've
questioned, only two have answered, "Yes." Most people say, "We
never notice." During a tournament late last year, Dale Douglass
and I surveyed all of the players in the field, and roughly 85%
of the guys wanted carts. Among the 30 to 40 players I talked to,
only one liked the new cart rule, although six guys said they
preferred to walk. The rest of them liked the old rule, which
said a player could ride if he wanted to.

In truth, the cart issue is a part of a larger problem: For the
last five or six years, we've been trying to change the image of
the Champions tour but have failed. For the tour to succeed, we
need to go back to basics, to the things that made the tour a
success when it was launched 25 years ago. This tour is not about
the competition. A 63-year-old like me can't compete with a
50-year-old. We are an exhibition tour, and we need to get back
to that.

I'm not interested in suing the tour over carts--the way I'm
playing, a chariot wouldn't do me much good anyway--but I would
like to see us focus on the real cause of the tour's problems
without making carts the scapegoat.

Gibby Gilbert has six wins on the Champions tour, the last in
1997.

COLOR PHOTO: CLIFF MCBRIDE (GILBERT) ROAD RAGE Gilbert claims that banning carts is a ploy to get ridof older players.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)