The R&A Says No Cart for Daly at The Open and They Got It Right

Dennis Walters, a 2019 World Golf Hall of Fame inductee knows a lot about John Daly’s golf cart situation. He captained his college squad to four consecutive conference titles and then turned pro. An accident after college rendered Walters paralyzed from the waist down. He customized a golf cart which enabled him to continue to play golf. Then Walters debuted his trick shot show in 1977 and was off to the races. More than 42 years later he’s still making people smile. Walters is on the road in Maine for a show when we connect to talk Daly and carts.

Dennis Walters joins Peggy Kirk Bell, Retief Goosen, Billy Payne and Jan Stephenson for the 2019 World Golf Hall of Fame Class

“Golf is supposed to be for everyone and I try to prove that with every swing I make in my shows,” Walters tells WBGD. “But I’ll say this about professional events and carts — the bar should be set very high, it should be an extremely high standard. Casey Martin should be able to use a cart, he’s a no-brainer, and I’ll leave it at that.”

Miami-based James “Woody” Beckham became a quadriplegic and paralysis advocate in a matter of months. He suffered his injury in January 2011. Then spent two months in the hospital, launched The Woody Foundation a few months later and presented a check for $20,000 to Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital in September. His injury-to-donation spanned less 10 months. Unlike Walters, Beckham has limited hand functioning and doesn’t play golf. He is however, an advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act and works daily to improve the lives of the paralyzed.

Woody Beckham (left) and Marc Buoniconti (right) address the crowd at the 8th Annual Woody Golf Classic in April at Melreese Country Club in Miami

“I believe the golf course is a workplace and professionals should have access to work,” Woody Beckham says. “It’s hard to draw a line here, but it has to be limited. I agree that Casey Martin should be able to use a cart, but I’d have to say no on Daly.”

John Daly cruised around Bethpage Black at the PGA Championship back in May smoking cigs and pounding Diet Coke. He shot 75 on Thursday, 76 on Friday and missed the cut. In an independent poll conducted on the World’s Best Golf Destinations Facebook page, we received 87 votes in about four hours — 38 approved a cart for Daly at The Open and 49 said no.

Daly’s 1995 flowing mullet (pictured top) is glorious. His grip it n’ rip it, Killer Whale and beer drinking bravado is the stuff of legend. But when The R&A announced they would not allow Daly to ride — they got it right.

Here’s The R&A’s official statement:

The R&A have carefully considered the request from 1995 Champion Golfer of the Year John Daly to use a buggy at The 148th Open at Royal Portrush later this month. The R&A appreciate the difficulty John is facing and have full sympathy for him as this is clearly a serious, long-term condition.

Having considered all of the relevant factors, the Championship Committee has decided to decline his request. The R&A believe that walking the course is an integral part of the Championship and is central to the tradition of links golf which is synonymous with The Open. We must also ensure that, as far as possible, the challenge is the same for all players in the field.

The terrain at Royal Portrush is not suited to buggies and indeed the club itself does not permit their use. We have a serious concern that some parts of the course, where there are severe slopes and swales, would be inaccessible.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly but we believe it is the right one for The Open. John has a special place in our hearts as a Champion Golfer and he will always be welcome at the Championship both at Royal Portrush and in future.

Casey Martin is often included in the cart conversation. Martin sued the PGA Tour under the American Disability Act and won. The victory allowed him to ride which is ultimately why Daly rode at Bethpage — legal precedent. But Martin has Klippel–Trénaunay syndrome, a rare birth condition in his right leg where blood vessels form improperly. Daly’s knee problem is osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. The American Disabilities Act doesn’t list specific medical conditions — it does however have a general definition of disability that each person must meet. Daly at the PGA Championship feels like a bend of the rules.

“I think Martin should be allowed to use a cart and I also understand it’s an advantage,” Beckham adds. “But he’s the rare exception, a golf cart should only be granted in limited circumstances.”

Martin finished T23 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco at the 1998 U.S. Open. He would then go on to earn his PGA Tour card in 2000. While he finished 179th on the money list and failed to keep his card, he inspired. And to present day — like Dennis Walters and Woody Beckham — Martin inspires those living with paralysis.

Who is John Daly inspiring?