Bruce Summerhays is one of the fittest players on the Champions Tour, once playing a tour-record 119 rounds in a single season.
But now, approaching 60, Summerhays has a left knee that needs replacing. And he knows that someday he might have to get a medical exemption to ride in a cart while competing.
Summerhays also knows that he might not be able to get one.
Though changes are still being discussed regarding the use of carts during competition, there is a growing feeling that PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem would like to have the same rules apply to the Champions Tour as to the PGA and Nationwide tours.
This year, the use of carts by caddies - long a practice on the Senior PGA Tour - was eliminated, in part because PGA Tour officials didn't like the way it looked on television. No carts are allowed at two of the Champions Tour four majors, the U.S. Senior Open and the Senior PGA Championship.
"Carts have always been controversial - Arnold Palmer argued about it [the use of carts] in 1980," Finchem said during a trip this week to Hayfields Country Club in Hunt Valley, where play begins today in the $1.5 million Constellation Energy Classic.
Finchem said that more than half the carts used last year have been eliminated with the new rule prohibiting caddies from driving them. Any player can use a cart this year, but proposals are being discussed to modify that rule.
From an image standpoint, Finchem says the fewer carts used, the better it is for the tour.
"Generally speaking, as we try to get the fans more up close and personal, it's nice to have a reduced number of carts," Finchem said. "We're trying to put the best face on the product and make it as convenient for the fans. The less carts makes that job a little easier."
Said Summerhays: "I'm sure the tour would like to see us walk a little more. Half the fans feel that we shouldn't ride, and half don't care."
Summerhays says that if one of the Champions Tour's biggest stars needed to use a cart, then tour officials might feel differently. When Tom Watson first came out a couple of years ago, he needed to use one because he had recently sprained an ankle falling off a horse.
"The key is our tour is driven by stars," said Summerhays, a two-time winner on the Champions Tour whose victories include the 1998 State Farm Senior Classic at Hobbit's Glen in Columbia. "What if one of them needed a cart some day? I'm sure we'd still want them out here."
Hayfields Country Club holds a special place in the heart of John Harris, the former U.S. Amateur champion now in his second year on the Champions Tour. It was there that Harris played as a professional for the first time.
"It's been fun. It's been what I thought it might be. But I haven't played very well yet," Harris, 51, said yesterday on the practice tee. "But I feel like I'm getting better and that there are better things ahead."
The former Minneapolis insurance executive has played in 19 events this year, with his best finish coming in the Music City Classic, where he tied for 16th.
Harris holds the distinction of winning the Amateur in 1993, the year before Tiger Woods won the first of three straight. Harris made good on his invitation to the 1994 Masters, where he made the cut.