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Casey Martin

A Gift For The Game

Nevertheless, the young man continued to excel on the links. "The first time [Stanford University] coach Wally Goodwin saw Casey Martin play golf in high school," noted Nick Charles in a People piece, "he noticed that the teenager kept his right leg bent just the way a good golfer should. Only later did he realize that Martin kept his right leg bent all the time." By the time Martin played on the same Stanford golf team as Tiger Woods, the disease had left the bones in his leg virtually eroded. When he played college golf, "even the opposition begged their coaches to lift the walking rule so that Martin could ride," noted Golf Digest's Marcia Chambers. "They did, with the NCAA in full agreement." But when Martin, now a professional, approached the PGA with a cart request in 1997, "not only did the tour say no, but it refused even to look at the extensive and persuasive medical records Martin offered them," Chambers added.

In 1998 Martin was a member of the Nationwide Tour, earning his first win at the season-opening Lake-land Classic. He went on to make the cut in sixteen of twenty-two events, qualifying him to play in PGA Tours based on his low shooting scores. At the same time, the young professional became a spokesman for Nike athletic products; the shoe manufacturer created a commercial celebrating Martin's unique abilities. In 1999 Martin performed even better, placing fourteenth on the money list with $122,742. But the PGA still balked at Martin's request to use a golf cart during its Tour events. According to the association's rules, players must walk the course. Martin decided to sue.

The news of the lawsuit broke in early 1998. "It's kind of tough," King Martin told Goodwin. "We've never been sued or sued anyone in our lifetime and never dreamt that we would." After winning a temporary court order, the Martins took their case to a federal judge in Eugene. The federal court ruled that the young man could take his cart on the course; the PGA appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard the case three years later.

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Famous Sports StarsGolfCasey Martin Biography - A Gift For The Game, Who Is Disadvantaged?, Chronology, A Figure Of Controversy, Awards And Accomplishments