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Casey Martin, Pro Golfer This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   There are some people who make everything look easy - like Michael Jordan with a finger roll or Sammy Sosa with a homer into the wind at Wrigley Field. For golf, just about everybody makes it look easy. You see the PGA players rolling in a 25-foot putt or hitting a 325-yard drive. No problem, right? What could be hard about that? Just get the ball in the hole.

I say, "Try it!" There is nothing as frustrating as realizing that you just hit a ten-yard grounder off the tee. I am thankful that I'm past that stage. (I'm up to fifteen, which saves my clubs some air-time.)

What I often don't realize, though, is that I really have it easy. Casey Martin, on the other hand, won a case against the PGA tour and is now permitted to ride a cart while able-bodied players walk the course. His story is one of bravery and courage even when the whole deck of athletic life was stacked against him.

Casey was raised in a well-to-do neighborhood in Eugene, Oregon. When Casey was a baby, his constant crying kept his parents awake at night and worried them deeply. They took him to doctors, who finally discovered he had an extremely rare birth defect where the venous system in his legs hadn't formed correctly. Later in childhood, Casey would need various procedures and wear special stockings to compress his leg.

He didn't give up, though. He played in every pick-up game that he could find and excelled at almost every one. Casey loved the same sport as his brother - golf. Even with his ailment, Casey always managed to tough out walking nine or 18 holes. If there is one thing that Casey never did, it was complain. He never used pain as an excuse for a poor performance.

When he played in high school, he walked and only had to use a cart twice. Casey didn't just play and go home, though. He was a grinder. He hit range balls until his hands bled. He hit in the wind, rain, sweltering heat and even in the snow. He used to shovel the range if there was snow. Casey did have talent, though, and because he was a hard worker, he became a very good player.

His successful high-school career attracted the interest of many colleges. Casey didn't just want to play golf, he wanted an education. He wisely chose Stanford because it provided him with numerous post-golf opportunities. The downside of college golf for Casey was the looming task of carrying his own bag for 36 holes, especially on hilly courses. He overcame that, however, and went on to the PGA tour dreaming of high finishes and low scores.

Tour life was hard and his leg became progressively worse. After time on the big tour, he decided he just had to have a cart. He asked the tour's board if he could have a cart and they said no. So Casey went to court. The tour claimed that allowing Casey to have a cart would give him a competitive advantage. Furthermore, the point was made that walking was part of the game's integrity and the player's honor. I agree with the integrity part wholeheartedly, but it wouldn't be a competitive advantage because of Casey's condition. If Casey had a normal leg, he would be an even better golfer. The tour also said that the walking added a fatigue factor. Casey already has the fatigue factor built in, because of his restless sleeping - the pain is just too much. The court agreed. Even with golf greats like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus testifying against him, he got a cart. Casey could finally play as an equal.

Casey is a hero and a model of perseverance. Through all of the blood, sweat and tears, Casey realized his dream - and every wish has come true. Casey will continue to chase his dream for as long as he is able. Hopefully, he will be able to continue the chase for many years to come.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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