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.

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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