Now that the PGA Tour has lost its appeal, which means Casey Martin can continue to ride a cart when he plays professional golf, the tour must decide which path to follow next.
So far, that hasn't been easy.
The PGA Tour is 0-2 in court decisions involving Martin, a losing streak that began in 1998 when a federal magistrate in Oregon ruled that a handicapped Martin could use a cart to play pro golf. And Monday's ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld that ruling, turning down the PGA Tour's appeal in a 3-0 decision.
So, what's next? There appear to be only two options left for the Tour: carry the legal question to the U.S. Supreme Court, or simply drop the matter.
In a two-paragraph statement released Monday afternoon, the tour indicated that it is in no hurry to decide.
''(The PGA Tour) is currently reviewing the (appeals) court's opinion,'' the statement said. ''Additionally, we will also review the opinion with the PGA Tour Policy Board.''
The nine-member board, which includes players Davis Love III, John Cook, Hal Sutton and Mike Hulbert, is responsible for establishing goals and policies. Love has remained steadfast in his opposition to Martin's case, although spokesmen for the PGA Tour have been cautious in recent months about making any statements about Martin.
Martin, 27, joined the tour this year after spending two seasons on a development tour. He won a celebrated court case in his hometown of Eugene, Ore., more than two years ago, after suing the PGA Tour for the right to use a golf cart, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Martin was born with a painful circulatory disorder called Klippel-Trenaunay-Webber Syndrome that causes blood to pool in his right leg.
The bones in Martin's right leg are extremely brittle and he has worn support stockings since childhood in order to play golf.
''Pain is my constant companion,'' Martin said recently.
The appeals court rejected the PGA Tour's argument that allowing Martin to use a cart would alter the fundamental nature of a golf tournament.
In its ruling, the court emphatically said that the ADA does indeed cover such circumstances as Martin's.
The ADA requires accommodations for the disabled, but does not require measures that would change the fundamental nature of goods and services.
''The central competition is shot-making, which would be unaffected by Martin's accommodation,'' said Judge William Canby. ''All that the cart does is permit Martin access to a type of competition in which he otherwise could not engage because of his disability. This is precisely the purpose of the ADA.''
In U.S. Magistrate Thomas Coffin's 1998 ruling, he found that the purpose of the PGA Tour's requirement for players to walk was to make fatigue a factor. But Coffin also found that fatigue wasn't significant in golf, at least not as important as stress and motivation.
Roy L. Reardon, one of Martin's attorneys, was pleased with the appeals court verdict, calling it ''a great result for the millions of other disabled people in the United States who are simply looking, through the Americans with Disabilities Act, for an opportunity to just participate.''
Martin's mother, Melinda, said: ''We're extremely grateful. It's a validation that we have done the right thing from the beginning.''
The appeals court ruling will affect neither Martin's playing schedule nor his endorsements, which include Nike and Hartford Life, according to his representatives.
''Casey is all set,'' said Mark Freeland of Amani Sports. ''All his relationships are in place. ''
However, there is something it may eventually change--how he is known to the golf world. Martin has maintained that he would prefer to be recognized for his golf ability instead of ''the guy in the cart.''
He says it depends on how well he plays.
''It's all up to me,'' Martin said. ''Depending on how I play, the cart thing will eventually fade away.''
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