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PGA Tour v Martin - Case Summary

577 words (2 pages) Case Summary

9th Jan 2024 Case Summary Reference this In-house law team

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): US Law

Legal Case Summary

PGA TOUR, INC. V. MARTIN (00-24) 532 U.S. 661 (2001)

Table of Contents


"PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin" was a significant case in the realm of sports law and disability rights. Casey Martin, a professional golfer, suffered from a degenerative circulatory disorder that impeded his ability to walk golf courses. Despite this, Martin had the skill to compete at the highest levels. The PGA Tour, however, denied his request to use a golf cart during competitions, citing their walking rule as an essential part of the game. Martin sued the PGA Tour under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), asserting that denying him a cart constituted discrimination based on his disability.


The primary legal issue was whether the ADA applied to professional golf tournaments and, if so, whether allowing Martin to use a cart would "fundamentally alter the nature" of golf tournaments. The case raised questions about the balance between maintaining the integrity of sports and accommodating disabilities.

Decision / Outcome

The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled in favor of Martin. The Court held that the ADA applied to the PGA Tour and that allowing Martin to use a cart would not fundamentally alter the nature of the tournaments. The Court reasoned that the ADA was designed to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities and that the PGA Tour's walking rule was not an essential attribute of the game itself.


The decision was significant for its interpretation of the ADA in the context of professional sports. It underscored the principle that access for individuals with disabilities should be provided as long as it does not fundamentally alter the nature of the activity. The ruling was seen as a victory for disability rights, emphasizing the need for reasonable accommodations in various spheres of public life.


Q: Did the ruling apply to all professional golfers?
A: No, the ruling specifically applied to Casey Martin due to his unique circumstances and disability.

Q: Was the PGA Tour required to allow all golfers to use carts after this decision?
A: No, the decision allowed a specific accommodation for Martin under the ADA and did not universally change the walking rule for all golfers.

Q: Has this case been influential in other sports or areas?
A: Yes, the case has been cited in other contexts as a precedent for the application of the ADA and the need for reasonable accommodations.


  1. PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin, 532 U.S. 661 (2001).
  2. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. ยง 12101 et seq.
  3. "Casey Martin and the Supreme Court: A Retrospective," Journal of Sports Law.
  4. "The ADA's Application in Professional Sports: An Analysis of PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin," Columbia Law Review.

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