MacKinzie Kline's congenital heart defect hasn't kept her from becoming an accomplished junior golfer but it does create obstacles, including bureaucratic ones. Last week, the USGA denied the 14-year-old's petition to use a cart in the upcoming U.S. Girls' Junior, against her doctor's wishes.
The Encinitas, Calif., native was born with a single ventricle and required two open-heart surgeries before age 2. Recently she began feeling listless and disoriented when walking a course. Doctors at Children's Hospital in San Diego discovered her blood wasn't receiving enough oxygen, and exploratory surgery has been scheduled.
In the meantime, it was recommended if she kept playing golf, she use a cart and have oxygen available. However, her petition for a cart at Carmel CC in Charlotte in two weeks was denied on a technicality. USGA rules stipulate players must request a cart when they apply to the event. When Kline submitted her entry, she wasn't aware she would need a cart.
"Obviously you feel for her," said Marty Parkes, USGA senior director of media relations and communications, "but with those entry deadlines, we feel to be fair with everybody you have to hold to those."
John Kline, MacKinzie's father, consulted an attorney but decided not to pursue a legal remedy. MacKinzie, who has her own website (mackline.com) and is trying to raise $1 million for the Children's Heart Foundation, will travel to Charlotte anyway. "I'm a little worried," she said, "but I definitely want to play."
Her caddie, Hugh Montgomery, a family friend, will keep an oxygen canister in Klein's bag and decide whether she should continue if fatigued. "We have to be very careful to make sure when Mac goes out there she doesn't kill herself," John Kline said. "We're going to be cautious."
Earlier in the week, Kline contacted Casey Martin, who was given the right to use a cart by a 2001 Supreme Court decision. Informed of the USGA's decision, Martin was livid. "I can't believe after what I've gone through … that they would do this on a technicality, shooting down this precious little girl who just wants to play golf," he said. "This is absolutely shocking."
Additional reporting by Ryan Herrington