- Golf is considered one of the most popular sports in the world. In America the rise in its popularity began in 1916 when the PGA was founded. Over the next 60 years larger and larger demographics of Americans began to follow and participate in the sport. Today it is fashionable in the public eye and even rivals major team sports in ratings. Much of this can be attributed to the enormous purse sizes for professional tournament play. The Masters Tournament alone has a purse size of $8,000,000. This doesn’t count the PGA tournament purses and the scores of other minor championships that are played every year in golf. Today total purse money that can be won by a professional is literally in the tens of millions of dollars. As the game has grown over the years another development in the game has now become a commonplace sight out on the links, carts. Carts came into being partly as a consequence of the distances one had to walk to play. If you walked the amount of distance required to play 18 holes on a course it would equate to about 7 or 8 miles. Covering this distance can be difficult for healthy individuals but practically excluded the elderly and physically handicapped.
It didn’t start out like this of course. In the early days, everybody that played used some sort of bag or carrier to keep their clubs in and just hand carried them around until all the holes were played. But as the sport became more accepted and popular and more average players came onto the greens to play this new sport rumblings and complaints began to be heard about the great distances that were required to be walked to just get through a game. These complaints did not miss the ears of several young entrepreneurs. The first of these to use a motorized cart was JK Wadley of Texarkana, Texas. Mr. Wadley was a Texas millionaire and an avid golfer. His contribution to the game, for which he will be long remembered, was the introduction of the first electric golf cart in 1932. Even though it was an incredible innovation this electric vehicle never really caught on with the general public. It wasn’t too much longer after that, though, that other enterprising entrepreneurs came up with their own versions of these machines and put them on sale. This new invention and innovation was a hit because it literally opened up the game to people who would otherwise have never been able to participate.
Even though the PGA has banned golf carts from tournament play early on inroads were being made to allow for exceptions to accommodate handicapped players. In 2001 a lawsuit was filed by Casey Martin, a PGA member in the Supreme Court of the United States, to try and lift the golf cart ban from professional play. In court documents the PGA lawyers testified to the justices that the Americans with Disabilities act did not require the tour to waive its requirement for players to walk the course during play. This argument fell on deaf ears as that same year the court upheld by a vote of seven to two that Martin had the right to use the cart in all tournament play.
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