Casey Martin was denied the use of a cart Monday while scouting a potential recruit at a U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier in Oceanside, Calif.
Martin, 41, successfully sued the PGA Tour in 2001 for the right to ride in a cart at events because of a rare circulatory disorder in his leg. The USGA allowed him to use a cart at the U.S. Open after qualifying in 1998, and since then he has been permitted to ride as a competitor at subsequent Opens and qualifiers without incident.
Martin, now the head coach at the University of Oregon, said he cleared the use of a cart beforehand with tournament officials, but on the sixth hole at El Camino Country Club was told by a Southern California Golf Association official that he couldn’t use the cart, per USGA regulations.
“I was stunned,” Martin told GolfChannel.com on Monday. “Since 1999, every time I’ve been to a golf course I’ve been accommodated 100 percent. For the first time in 14 years, I feel like I was treated unfairly and discriminated against.”
The USGA Cart Policy stipulates that the organization must provide reasonable accommodations for disabled spectators at championship events. Scooters are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and a volunteer can escort spectators to certain parts of the golf course – not a hole-by-hole shuttle service – to watch the action. According to the USGA, Martin was offered the latter accommodation but declined.
In a statement, the USGA called the incident an “unfortunate situation” and a “misunderstanding.”