Casey Martin is Back On Course

By Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: June 15, 2012

Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff Reporter

This Aricle first appaired on Black Athletes Network on March 1, 2011.

Back on the Trail

Back on the Trail

OAKLAND, CA (BASN)–Fellow Stanford Cardinal Disabled golfer Casey Martin returns to the golfing world at the 2012 U. S. Open in San Francisco, California. Martin won the battle for disabled athletes this weekend when he recieved an exemption to use golf cart to traverse the golf course something he had to fight for five years ago. The PGA did not want to look insensitive this time around and passed on the issue.

Will Martin be wearing the same Stanford Cardinal red shirt on Sunday with fellow teammate Tiger Woods? Now if Casey Martin were winning what would the PGA do?

 

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One morning before getting out of bed, radio station KNBR 680 inSan Franciscoaired an interview with Casey Martin. the former professional disabled golfer. He sounded much older and much wiser than the younger and feisty Martin of five years ago.

In that radio interview, Martin seemed content with his life and his new job inEugene,Oregon. He also seemed content with his disability – a degenerative disease from birth.

This disability is called Klipper Trenaunay-Webber Syndrome, and it slowly takes away the use of muscles in a leg, an arm, or a foot. Additionally he seemed mentally content after the eight-year legal battle ended in his favor in 2002.

Martin was a fighter as he pursued the Professional Golf Association, because they denied him the right to play golf with other professionals. The prestigious PGA wanted to keep their game pristine and did not want any anyone disturbing their playing field.

Martin did not comply and went to court because he wanted the right to play golf, the game he loved. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7- 2-split decision that the PGA didn’t have a right to ban Martin from using his golf cart to play golf.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were the two opposing justices.


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Both objecting Justices stated that the PGA had the right to set their own rules and regulations. This disabled American writer is ecstatic that the United States Supreme Court decided in Martin’s favor.

I was delighted that Uncle Thomas (Oh, I mean Justice Thomas) did not block this man’s pursuit of the game. Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia have never been friends of the disabled community.

Both have ruled on numerous occasions against disabled defendants in previous court decisions. This favorable ruling sent a message to the disabled community that they are indeed a part of the professional sports world.

Five years ago, this was the biggest legal decision for all sports minded disabled Americans. It opened many doors for disabled athletes around the world. The ParaOlympics proved this point when the largest contingent of disabled athletes ever assembled at The Beijing Games in China.

It was a landmark court decision disabled athletes have been looking for.

Time and time again, disabled athletes have had to conform to their non-disabled sports partners. The disabled athlete always played with a double handicap. This is not fair but disabled athletes just keep going and keep playing the sports they love

In this Supreme Court decision, Martin was allowed the use of a golf cart while playing. The Court also narrowed the decision to the Martin case. This permits The PGA to bar others from taking a cart on the golf course.

Many golf purists stated that golfers with bad backs would try to use the Martin Case to help them.

Five years ago, The Supreme Court stated that Golf tournaments are open public accommodations and consequently are covered by the 1990 and 1992 Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA) therefore permitting Martin to use a cart is a reasonable modification that gives him access required by law.

The PGA revealed its true colors and still has no class as it sticks to its ancient rules. A case in point is a most recent legal procedures which caused one of most embarrassing public relations disasters in sports history.

The PGA should be ashamed of itself with its stuffy elitist attitude. This profession group tried to enforce the English-only ruling a few months ago on the LPGA.This edict did not last long because a public firestorm of protest caused the ruling to be resented a few weeks later.

Sports should be for everyone. Any athlete able or disabled who puts in the time, endures the stress, and shows the dedication, should be allowed to play and be rewarded. This athlete should be on the court, on the field, on the bowling lanes, or in the swimming pool.

Disabled bowlers have had an experience of being afraid of the unknown in the professional sports world. The American Bowling Congress, now the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) wanted disabled bowlers to stop bowling in sanctioned leagues.

The USBC rules stated that it was illegal to move the bowling ball with a mechanical object, meaning motorized wheelchairs. Many leagues did not want disabled bowlers with motorized chairs to participate in their programs.

Disabled bowlers fromBerkeley,Californiafinally got the USBC to amend the rules. Just as the Supreme Court ruling modified the PGA laws for disabled athletic participation.

Martin has moved on from that wonderful but short professional career. He now wants to instruct younger golfers with his knowledge of this very mental game. He has won 17 junior titles inOregonand played with the famous Tiger Woods at Stanford winning the 1994 NCAA.

Martin is now the head coach of theUniversityofOregongolf team. He also started a web site called,10thgreen.com., this web site helps amateur golfers with their game.

In 2003, the Nike Corporation created the Casey Martin Award for an outstanding athlete of the year. This award honors an individual who has excelled in athletic pursuits while overcoming significant physical, mental, societal or cultural challenges and/or who proudly serves as an advocate for fellow athletes with disabilities.

It is very frustrating for many disabled athletes who just want to play the game they grew up with, only to be stonewalled, blackballed, or ostracized by the establishment. They do not want special rules they do not want to be treated differently.

The disabled just want to be a part of the sports world.

So thank you, Casey for fighting for an opportunity to play in a professional game and for fighting tough against the establishment PGA. You have become an example for other young disabled athletes who just want to follow their dreams and their hopes.

Many other disabled athletes respect you; you are the king of golf in many sports enthusiasts’ books. Tiger and Vijay Singh, move over; CaseyMartin is the man.


©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod