The U.S. Supreme Court ruled seven to two Tuesday that the Professional Golf Association must allow disabled golfer Casey Martin to ride a cart between holes during PGA tournaments. This decision has caused a bit of a stir in the pro-golf world, with some arguing that walking is an integral part of the sport professional golfer Jack Nicklaus even suggested that the justices in the majority would “change their minds” if they would just go out and play a few holes. But the Supreme Court acted prudently in their assessment of Martin”s case given the circumstances, the right of this man to play golf took precedence over the interests of the establishment.

Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome a rare circulatory condition has caused Martin”s right leg to become small and weak. Whenever he walks on it, he runs the risks of bone fractures, internal hemorrhage and blood clots.

Despite this debilitating disease, Martin has proven that he is a very skilled golfer. He was a member of Stanford University”s 1994 championship team and continued to play NCAA golf in subsequent years. As his condition grew more severe, the NCAA waived the walking rule for him, as did the organizers of the Pacific-10 conference. He made it to the PGA Tour last year, taking home more than $140 thousand. Thus, this ruling is not a case of Martin exploiting a minor ailment for his own gain rather, it is a reasonable accommodation for a disadvantaged pro.

However, the nay-sayers do raise a valid question: The physical nature of sports will inevitably exclude people with certain disabilities. If the PGA has to change its rules for Martin, where will the line be drawn?

For instance, could a runner with shin splints demand a 10-second head start? Could Martin himself demand to be allowed to play professional baseball if he was really good at hitting the ball out of the park and had somebody else run for him? Not only are these kinds of demands unlikely, but they do not fall under the precedent set by the Court.

The Supreme Court”s decision was largely based on the Americans With Disabilities Act, which says that operators of public places (golf courses included) must make “reasonable” changes to their facilities, provided that they do not “fundamentally alter the nature” of the activity. The seven justices in the majority reached the conclusion that walking is not “fundamental” to the sport of golf. Indeed, walking (or not walking) does not affect the way the game is scored or the way that shots are taken. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens stressed that “the essence of the game has been shot making” since golf”s early days.

Giving a runner a head start in a race directly affects the way that race is scored. Running and stealing bases is arguably more important to baseball than batting it is also inseparable from scoring. But riding in a golf cart does not give a player a distinct advantage regardless of whether or not a player walks, shots are taken and points are scored identically. Therefore, the Supreme Court”s decision does not place the integrity of golf or any other sport in jeopardy.

The Supreme Court should be applauded for their support of individual rights. There is no reason why Martin, or any other player for whom walking is “beyond their capacity,” should not be able to ride a cart in tournaments.

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