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A Brief Guide to the Art of Persuasion and Argument

14.3 Sample Essay

PGA Tour, Inc. v Casey Martin

Casey Martin was born with a degenerative circulatory disorder that makes his right leg very weak. Casey Martin has shown that he possesses the ability to compete on the PGA tour. He has confessed, “All I ever wanted was the chance to play and to see how good I could be” (Faces 1). Yet it’s been written that “Walking not only causes him pain, fatigue, and anxiety, but also created a significant risk of hemorrhaging, developing blood clots, fracturing his tibia so badly an amputation might be required” (PGA Tour 9). This disorder prevents Martin from walking the golf course. If he is unable to walk due to health reasons, his only option to find out just how good he actually is requires the use of a golf cart. Yet the PGA has rules against the usage of golf carts.

The PGA Tour has a rule saying players must walk the third and final stage of the golf tournament. While in Q School, a qualifying school for professional golfers, Martin submitted a request to be able to use a golf cart throughout the entire tournament. The PGA Tour denied his request. The PGA feels that walking is an integral part of the game, and being allowed to use a golf cart would give the individual an advantage over the rest of the field (Finchem 2). Subsequently, the PGA thought that if Martin used a golf cart it would fundamentally alter the nature of the tournament by giving him an unfair advantage.

Under the American’s with Disabilities Act, Martin filed a lawsuit which reads, “Prohibits discrimination on the basis of employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation and telecommunications” (United States). Martin filed his suit specifically under Title III of the Act which requires public accommodations to make reasonable modifications for the disabled. The PGA Tour, a recreational facility and activity, is considered a public accommodation. Both the lower courts and the Supreme Court agreed with Martin. He had a right to use a motorized golf cart under the ADA because the PGA Tour is a public accommodation, and that it would not fundamentally alter the nature of the tournament. The PGA Tour, Q School, and any “. . . golf courses, including play areas, are places of public accommodation during professional golf tournaments” (PGA Tour 2). Casey Martin was discriminated against because of his disability and because golf course are specifically identified as a public accommodation under Title III of the ADA.

Originally Casey Martin was told by the PGA Tour that they would not accommodate his disability. The PGA feels that the playing field must be the same for every player, and allowing Martin to use a cart would give him an advantage over other players. The PGA argues that walking, and the loss of concentration due to fatigue, is part of the challenge of playing professional golf at its highest level (Finchem 2). The PGA also argues that using a golf cart would take out much of the physical conditioning factor of the sport. The PGA Tour claimed they were not required to allow Casey Martin to use a cart, but in the end it turns out that the PGA was required because the tournament is a public place.

As it is organized, “Any member of the public may enter the Q School by submitting two letters of recommendation and paying a $3,000 entry fee” (PGA Tour 1). The golfers of the PGA pay to be a part of the PGA, therefore they are considered customers, and would make the PGA a public accommodation. The golfers pay for privileges such as Q School and to compete in the tournaments. Since Martin paid to play professional golf, and also paid his way through his qualifying school, he should not have been discriminated against while competing. The Supreme Court ruled that Martin was a customer of competition when he practices his profession. Martin was a customer to this public accommodation, therefore the PGA Tour should be required to make reasonable modifications, and allow Casey Martin to use his golf cart.

Also, Casey Martin’s use of a golf cart would not “fundamentally alter” the core nature of the tournament. The PGA Tour argues, “While carts have become commonplace for recreational golf, walking had been an integral part of the tournament competition throughout the game’s history. Walking is a fundamental part of tournaments in championship competitions . . .” (Finchem 2). Yet the core nature of golf is aiming for the hole. “The use of carts is not inconsistent with the fundamental character of golf, the essence of which has always been shot-making. The walking rule contained in petitioner’s hard cards is neither an essential attribute of the game itself nor an indispensable feature of tournament golf” (PGA Tour 3). This means that the game of golf is based on where the ball ends up and not on the endurance of walking. Yes golf is a game of strategy where one attempts to put the golf ball in the hole in the fewest strokes possible. But golf is not a mellow version of cross country running. Nor is it based on how far you can walk.

The golfers participating in the PGA Tour tournament do not need the walking stage of golf, because it is not essential to the game of golf. The PGA will argue that it is essential because of the endurance factor. However, walking the distance of the course is not part of the formal rules of golf (DREDF 2). It is the golfer’s choice to walk the course. The PGA will argue that weather affects game play. “Using a cart would be somewhat of an advantage all the time and could be a great advantage in many circumstances . . .rain delays . . .the temperature and the humidity are both in the nineties . . .” (Finchem 2). In this case however, the variety of conditions the player would have to deal with would only matter if they were playing a multi-day tournament (DREDF 2). If a tournament is only one day in length, the fatigue factor of walking will generally be minimal compared to the other factors.

In the end, Casey Martin would be enduring enough pain as it is with his disorder. The pain caused by his disorder can be compared to other golfers walking the final stage of the tournament. Martin’s disability causes him enough pain going from cart to shot that he would not have an advantage (DREDF 2). The PGA tour argues that it would indeed be unfair because other golfers would be walking, and that Casey Martin would have an advantage over everyone else walking the course. No matter what the PGA believes, the Supreme Court agrees with Martin, “. . . that even with the use of a cart, the fatigue Martin suffers from coping with his disability is greater than the fatigue his able-bodied competitors endure from walking the course” (PGA Tour). Even with the cart, Casey Martin must walk over a mile during an 18-hole round of golf. The combination of Casey Martin’s pain and the distance he will still walk would be enough that the other golfers would still have an advantage over him.

All Casey Martin ever wanted to do was to be the best he could possibly be. Does the PGA Tour have the right to shatter Casey Martin’s dreams because of a degenerative disorder? In his own words Casey Martin says, “Without the ADA I never would have been able to pursue my dream of playing golf professionally” (Faces 1). With a clarity the PGA should have began with, the Supreme Court agreed that Casey Martin did indeed have the right to pursue his dream.

(This essay is from Stephanie Wolf and has been modified to fit the parameters of this book. Somehow in the editing the Works Cited was lost.)


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Expression and Inquiry by Christopher Manning; Sally Pierce; and Melissa Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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