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December 06, 2001

Now Casey can ride on
By Dan Patrick

The Supreme Court says that Casey Martin can use a golf cart in PGA Tour events. It's easy to see this decision as a victory for Martin rather than a loss for the Tour. But it's neither.

This story is not about golf, fairness or the rights of the disabled. It's a human-interest story, pure and simple.

Forget about the physical advantages of riding in a cart. You've seen the average golfer and would not confuse him with a triathlete. Golf is mostly mental.
The mistake the PGA Tour made was in giving the issue a face. In trying to maintain uniform standards for its game – a fair pursuit, obviously – the Tour has gotten some very bad press. They are seen as standing in the way of a disabled person's right to pursue his chosen career.

Most people acknowledge that Martin was simply asking for a bit of help, an acknowledgement that his condition affects him enough to grant him a special allowance.

Ask any golfer. They all would rather walk up the fairway, concentrating on the next shot away from the distractions of the crowd. Martin has to maneuver around the crowd and go over the ropes to hit each shot. Forget about the physical advantages of riding in a cart. You've seen the average golfer and would not confuse him with a triathlete. Golf is mostly mental.

There is no clock in golf, but if Martin were forced to labor after each of his balls were hit, he would play a very slow round and he probably would not last 18.

The cart simply allows him to keep up with everyone else. It wasn't too much to ask and it's nice that he finally got his wish.

Casey Martin
Casey Martin has a circulatory disorder in his right leg, making it difficult for him to walk 18 holes.
There is simply no advantage for Martin here. The cart just brings him a bit closer to the other players in that he can actually finish the round if he uses a cart. He is not asking to hit from the ladies' tees. He is not asking that the par-4s become par-5s for him.

Eventually, Martin's events will become a sideshow. His golf game has not improved since he came on the scene in 1998. He's not considered a threat to win. Why? He can't stand on a putting green for two hours at a time. He can't stand at the range and pound away at bucket after bucket of golf balls trying to get better. Martin has missed two PGA Tour cuts this year. He has played in eight Tour events and has missed half of those cuts. He is 115th on the Tour money list.

But he will get some sponsor's exemptions on the PGA Tour and be promoted heavily. "Come see the guy in the cart!" I hope that Martin's courage and his sincere efforts to overcome a debilitating condition are not forgotten. Because that is what this is all about. That's why we care.

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Casey Martin shares his feelings following the Supreme Court's ruling with ESPN's Trey Wingo.
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Casey Martin is relieved that he can now go back to just concentrating on golf.
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ESPN's Mike Tirico and Dan Patrick weigh in on the Casey Martin ruling.
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PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem talks to the media after the Supreme Court ruled in Casey Martin's favor.
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Despite his admiration for Casey Martin, Steve Pate is one player on the PGA Tour who does not agree with the ruling.
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