Golf Digest editors picks

My Shot: Casey Martin

Age 35 / Men's golf coach / University of Oregon

Casey Martin

Casey Martin, photographed Dec. 18, 2007, in Eugene, Ore., sued the tour to use a cart when Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome kept blood vessels in his right leg from working properly.

March 2008

The leg. Well, the time is coming when it's going to reach that point where amputation isn't that far off. If they were only going to take it below the knee, I probably would've had it done already. But it's going to be above the knee, and there are a lot of potential complications with the vascular stuff. I've read an awful lot about the guys coming back from Iraq who have lost limbs, and in general they do so well that it looks tempting. The doggone thing hurts worse than ever most of the time, and if they did amputate, the pain would eventually go away. The problem is, it's still my leg. Even though it's a lousy leg no 100-year-old man would want, I'm attached to it.

• • •

The biggest stress of 2000 wasn't in the courtroom, or talking to the media, feeling the occasional bad vibe from people, worrying about my leg, or trying to keep my game together. It was dealing with the cart. Inching my way through crowds, looking for a place to get out and duck under the ropes, driving ahead and waiting for the other players to catch up -- that was stressful. I found the logistics of riding in that environment to be very difficult, especially when there were 20,000 people out there. I never did find the knack for concentrating or getting into a rhythm, and I'm not sure it was even possible. Walking is the best way to play this game.

• • •

There are two keys to success in a career. One is to really love what you're doing. I had that when I played the Hooters Tour, then the Nationwide Tour and then the PGA Tour for a year. The other thing you need is to be really good at it. I mean, if someone really loves the subject of law but absolutely sucks at being a lawyer, he isn't going to be as happy as he could be. Let's face it, I wasn't quite good enough. Not at that level. It was time to move on.

• • •

Most pro golfers dreamed of playing the tour from the time they were little. But until I got to college, I always wanted to be a brain surgeon. I was a 4.0 student and pretty nerdy. After one semester at Stanford, I knew the brain-surgeon thing wasn't going to happen. Being on the golf team, combined with even the basic courses at Stanford being darned difficult, combined with me being self-diagnosed ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder], blew that plan right out of the water. I was very glad I had golf to fall back on.

• • •

When the court case became a political issue, the politicians who lined up behind me were virtually all Democrats, with the exception of Bob Dole. Democrats obviously are more outspoken for the disabled and the little guy in society, so there was no surprise there. What caught me off guard a little was that when the Supreme Court voted 7-2 in my favor, the two dissenters were Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who are the fellows who generally uphold things that moralists and Christians care about. I'm conservative and Christian, and I misread those guys completely.

• • •

Shortly after Jack Nicklaus testified against me, I played a practice round with his son, Gary. We were friends and had played a lot together. Gary said, "Just so you know, the tour put a lot of pressure on my dad to testify, and I don't think he felt real great about doing it." I thought, Well, OK. But when I had some physical problems a year later, Jack phoned me. He wanted to know how I was doing and asked if he could do anything for me.

• • •

On the Hooters and Nationwide tours I'd meet the occasional veteran player who was pretty jaded about golf. Guys who had devoted their life to the game but who felt success had eluded them, unfairly. A couple of them were downright bitter, which was very hard for me to understand. They might not have reached all their goals, but how many of us do? They got to travel, meet extraordinary people, had their health and were not exactly living hand to mouth. They had options, and they were, after all, playing a game for a living. I knew that no matter where you go, you'll find happy, optimistic people and unhappy ones. I just thought it was peculiar to find any unhappy person in golf.

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