HARRIS - Kristin Ingram is taking advantage of a new rule when she competes on the Symetra Tour.
Ingram is one of several golfers who does not use a caddy. Instead, she pushes her own cart, a trend that is starting to grow on the Road to the LPGA series that visits Sweetgrass Golf Club this weekend.
"It is less stressful. I don't have to put it on my back," she said Monday after completing a solo practice round. This is the first year she is using the four-wheel push cart.
Dennis Grall | Daily Press
Kristin Ingram of Pasadena pushes her hand cart up the ninth fairway at Sweetgrass Golf Club during a practice round Monday. She is one of several Symetra Tour players taking advantage of a new rule that allows the carts. The Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass begins Friday.
Ingram, who lives in Pasadena, Cal. but was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, said even some Symetra Tour caddies are using the push/pull carts. Many caddies are related to the player and she noted these carts are easier for them to use on the course.
Some players use hefty staff bags while others use lighter bags designed for carrying the clubs, using a double shoulder strap for better balance.
She pushes her cart, noting her arms get tired pulling the cart. Ingram, who stays in local homes while on tour, has even had host family members carry her bag.
Ingram is in her first full season on the tour, but has played the previous two years when "swing issues" limited her participation. She played golf at University of Arkansas.
"It's great. I can put a lot of stuff in the bag," she said. "That helps out when it rains. I can plop an umbrella in the holder and still roll the cart."
While most tour courses have been relatively flat, like Sweetgrass, Ingram said when she comes to a downhill section with no hazard near, she will just push it down the hill. It has never spilled.
Early reaction to the new rule allowing push/pull carts was mixed, with some players shocked to see them allowed. Under the LPGA Futures Tour of previous years, players who did not have caddies were allowed to place their bags on power carts that would accompany each group. That is not allowed with the Symetra Tour.
Ingram said "they want you to have a caddy."
When the new rule was instituted, Ingram said "the first thing I did was go shopping for a cart.
"I know I had a good workout to carry my bag. Now there is no extra work. Now it lets me think of what is up ahead of me and not think about the weight on my back."
Noting the tradition of carrying a golf bag, she said "we all had the attitude we can carry our bag for 18 holes. It was pride. Now the thinking is you want to save your body and have more energy."
Ingram enjoyed her first round at Sweetgrass, a course ranked highest on the tour by many Symetra Tour players.
"The greens are really fast," she said, indicating it is vital to hit approach shots to the right spots to take advantage of pin placements. "If the pin is on the back, don't go for it because you'll have a tricky putt (back if the approach is long)."
The humps and swales prevalent on the Sweetgrass greens is a new look for Ingram.
She said there are several short par 4 holes. "If you have a wedge in your hands and if you can stick it close, you can make birdie and you should be good to go," she said.
The length of some par 3 holes is a challenge, particularly the 190-yard seventh that has an elevated green guarded by two large bunkers.
Ingram, who has earned just $967 while playing in all six events this season, has a simple goal this week.
"I want to make the cut as much as making some money. That is a good goal," she said. "I feel good about my game and my practicing. I have a good feeling about my game and that keeps me going."