A Good Walk Spoiled?

Few sports are more tradition-conscious than golf. But traditionalists are getting a jostling from budding pro Casey Martin.

Mr. Martin is asking the PGA Tour to set aside a rule that all competitors in its tournaments must walk. His reason: a physical problem that restricts walking and is recognized as a disability. Citing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), he has sued the Tour to accommodate him by allowing the use of a golf cart.

For countless amateurs, and for some of the veteran pros on the Senior PGA Tour (50 and up), the electric cart is standard equipment.

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The Tour, however, has dug in. Walking, it says, is a test of stamina, an element of fair competition, and a point of pride for players on its regular Tour and its Nike Tour (a minor league for pro golf).

Using a cart (allowed under a preliminary court injunction), Martin has already won one Nike Tour event. His promise as a golfer is not at issue. But if one player is allowed a cart, what about others? Lots of superb players have been dogged by afflictions that would have been eased by a cart.

A federal judge in Oregon is weighing the matter this week. For all the Tour's arguments, Martin has a compelling plea. He could be kept from a career for which he is clearly qualified if a readily available accommodation based on the ADA is refused. And if Martin does prevail, we doubt the edifice of golf will crumble.

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