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Madden: PGA looks foolish in Martin case

Saturday, June 02, 2001

When the Supreme Court decided that disabled golfer Casey Martin could ride a cart to compete in PGA events, it made the wrong ruling. The court's ruling should have been this: Every man, woman and child in the United States is hereby prohibited from golfing ever again.

The Casey Martin debate proved conclusively that golf is populated almost exclusively by nitwits, jerks and elitist boobs who would have to staple their mouths shut to keep stupidity from constantly spilling forth. Looking dumb wasn't reserved for PGA head honcho Tim Finchem. Legends such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus joined latter-day golfers such as Steve Pate and the local hackers who call my talk show to form a raging maelstrom of idiocy not seen since the last time the Pirates drafted.

The PGA should never have let the case get to any court, let alone the Supreme Court. The PGA should have said, "OK, you've got to walk to play. But this guy can't walk, so we're going to make an exception." That way the PGA would have kept their rulebook totally within their control.

Who knows what will happen now that the Supreme Court has intruded? I don't think we'll see the bizarre cases some predict. I don't think the Supreme Court, for example, will make baseball go to one out per inning to make the game easier to play and watch for those with Attention Deficit Disorder. But I do think the Martin ruling will inspire a modicum of copycat cases that will, at best, waste a lot of tax dollars or will, at worst, allow the courts to further infringe upon the rules of sport.

The PGA hierarchy should have met behind closed doors and concluded the following: Casey Martin, with or without a cart, isn't good enough to make an impact in pro golf. So let's look like the good guys and let him use a cart. Maybe someday a one-legged guy will come along with the skill to win every single tournament if we let him use a cart. Probably not, but maybe. Anyway, we'll worry about that then. Meantime, let's do the right thing -- both morally and public relations-wise -- and let Martin ride. He's not going to go out and shoot 55 in the Masters. He probably won't even shoot 75. Let him ride.

The PGA instead went in the totally opposite direction. Golfers everywhere put their noses high in the air and talked about a crucial element of their game being compromised.

That's pathetic. Golfers aren't athletes. Make them run from shot to shot, then we'll call them athletes. The PGA certainly has its share of protruding bellies, and a lot of these "athletes" chain-smoke like Jim Leyland during a 13-12 extra-inning thriller. As for casual golfers -- who seem to be complaining louder than the pros about Martin's riding -- many of them make Bill Murray's "Caddyshack" character look like a model of personal discipline. Go to your local course some Saturday, sit at the first tee and look at who passes by. Most of them will have two legs that work, but they'll be riding carts anyway.

This isn't an indictment of golf. Golf is fun. One reason it's fun is because you don't have to be an athlete to play it. You don't even need to be an athlete to play it well.

This is, however, an indictment of golfers. Everyone who plays golf considers themselves somehow brethren to Tiger Woods, and therefore qualified to opine obnoxiously on the integrity of the game. Golf has about as much integrity as Augusta National has black members. Trip somebody in a recreational hockey league, you serve two minutes. Foul somebody in pickup basketball, the other team gets the ball. Kick the ball from the rough to the fairway during a $50 Nassau, and your opponent never knows.

Golfers are such snobs that they can't even grasp the following truth, one which any sane person holds to be self-evident: YOU LOOK BAD WHEN YOU DUMP ON A CRIPPLE. I know "cripple" isn't a politically correct term, but between that and using capital letters, maybe I got through.

You've got to love Pate pontificating on the challenge of walking six hours, six days a week. First off, Steve, most courses take four hours to walk. You either hit the ball all over the place or you get lost a lot. Second off, walking six hours in one day at a relatively easy pace isn't exactly running the Boston Marathon. I might be able to do it. Maybe. And to conjecture that my fat posterior might be able to accomplish any athletic feat indicates that it's probably not an athletic feat.

You've got to love Palmer's campaigning against Martin's right to use a cart. The legendary Arnie stumping on behalf of golf's integrity even as he endorses a driver ruled illegal by the USGA. Arnie: "Well, even though this driver isn't USGA-approved, weekend golfers might enjoy the positive effect it has on their game." Translation: "I'd endorse napalm if the money was right."

Tiger Woods is tremendous. He might be the greatest golfer ever. He's well-spoken, he's charismatic, and he almost always says and does the right thing.

A man of his caliber is wasted on golf. It's like putting the Hope Diamond in a setting of petrified manure.

Mark Madden's talk show is heard 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays on WEAE-AM (1250).

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