EUGENE, Ore. — Casey Martin broke down in tears Wednesday as he testified about the intense pain he feels when he walks the golf course.
"If I could trade my leg and a cart for their good leg, I would do it any time, anywhere," said Martin, who has sued the PGA Tour for the right to ride a cart.
Under gentle questioning from his lawyer, Martin gave a detailed description of the rare circulatory condition he has lived with since birth.
"It feels like my leg is going to blow up," he said. "Every time I step, there's a sharp pain in my shin."
His face tightened as he described a match he played while at Stanford, and the intense pain that came after carrying his clubs over 36 holes. He said the opposing coach from Arizona saw the pain he was experiencing and told him: "Man, you've got to take a cart." Martin said he replied: "I wouldn't do it."
With that, Martin bowed his head and cried. U.S. Magistrate Thomas Coffin called a five-minute recess.
Martin has invoked the Americans with Disabilities Act in his lawsuit that seeks to ride instead of walk at professional events.
Under cross-examination, PGA Tour lawyer William Maledon compared having a cart to the advantage of carrying extra clubs.
Martin said that was an unfair comparison. "That's shotmaking, that's where the game is played, with your clubs."
Before it became too painful for him, Martin said he always preferred walking rather than riding a cart. "The main reason is just the rhythm you get into when you walk."
Even when in a cart, he said he must park it on the path and still walk up to 100 yards a hole.
Earlier Wednesday, a PGA Tour executive testified carts are allowed at senior events because it's a money-driven "nostalgia" tour, far less competitive than the top circuit where Martin seeks to ride.
"It's an economic factor," said Richard Ferris, chairman of the PGA Tour policy board. "If Arnold Palmer has an arthritic hip and can't walk 18 holes . . . He's an economic draw. That's why we allow them to use carts."
"The Nike Tour and the PGA Tour are golf at its highest level," he said. "The senior tour is not competition at its highest level. The Senior Tour is a nostalgia tour."
Ferris said Palmer led a movement in 1986 that succeeded in requiring players to walk on the Senior Tour. That rule was dropped after a couple of tournaments when players complained some couldn't walk all 18 holes.
"They said we're going to lose the Julius Boroses--let's reverse ourselves," Ferris said, adding the major attraction was the chance for people to pay $3,000 or $4,000 to play pro-am rounds with their heroes.