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Casey Martin

Who Is Disadvantaged?

The PGA argued that by riding between the holes, Martin would gain an unfair advantage over the players who expended energy walking. But is walking intrinsic to the game? In May 2001, the Court handed down its 7-2 decision: Martin should be entitled to play on the Tour using a cart in accordance with the ADA's guidelines for employers and businesses to adopt "reasonable accommodation" for disabled employees or customers. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority: "From early on, the essence of the game has been shot-making" with walking a peripheral component of the sport. Speaking for the dissent was Justice Antonin Scalia, who said that PGA rules deemed walking as essential to the game. He also maintained that seven of his fellow justices "wrongly identified Martin and other pro golfers as PGA Tour 'customers' covered by ADA public accommodation rules," according to a Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service article by Michael Hisley.


1972 Born June 2 in Eugene, Oregon
1995 Graduates from Stanford University
1995 Becomes professional golfer
1997 Joins PGA Tour
1998 Sues PGA for the right to play using a cart
2001 Supreme Court rules 7-2 in Martin's favor
2001 Undergoes three operations to stop leg infection
2002 Signs agreement with Pro Tour Memorabilia

Reaction to the ruling, noted Sarasota Herald Tribune columnist Rich Brooks, "has been predictable. One professional golfer said it's just a matter of time before someone with a sprained back or ankle seeks permission to ride in a cart." According to the article, links star Jack Nicklaus suggested that the justices try walking a tournament course to experience the effort for themselves. To Brooks, such arguments "deserve to be countered." First, he said, "for professional golfers to cite the fatigue by walking eighteen holes is laughable. Such statements say more about the players' lack of physical conditioning than the kinetic requirements of the game." Paul Winston of Business Insurance held a similar view. The opinion of some, he said, is that "golf is a sport of athletic prowess and endurance, like the decathlon or pentathlon, rather than one of skill. I beg to differ. Some golfers … are in great shape, but it doesn't seem to help them win any more [tournaments]."

"What next?" asked a spokesperson for the Libertarian Party as quoted by Cybercast News Service: "Stilts for midgets who want to play professional basketball? How about rowboats for Olympic swimmers who suffer from aquaphobia? How about a 20-yard head start for slow people in the Olympic 100-yard dash?" Sporting News contributor Dave Kindred predicted, "Silly lawsuits will follow the Martin ruling just as silly lawsuits have followed other ADA precedents."

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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