Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Law and the Links

Photo of Bubba Watson reading The Law is Everywhere...even Augusta!
For golf enthusiasts everywhere, this past weekend proved to be a very exciting Masters tournament, from Bo Van Pelt and Adam Scott's holes-in-one, to Tiger's club-kicking frustration to the final sudden-death match up between Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen --after the latter had already delivered with an incredible double eagle (or albatross, if you prefer).

Of course, the law is everywhere, and golf is no exception. Just as we have the Little White Book of Baseball Law, so we also have the The Little Green Book of Golf Law. Check it out in the Good Reads section.

The Supreme Court itself has weighed in on golf, in the 2001 case of PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin (532 U.S. 661). The case concerned the Americans with Disabilities Act, and whether a professional golf player, Casey Martin, could ride a golf cart because his disability precluded him from walking. One of the more memorable quotes from Justice Scalia's dissent:

"If one assumes, however, that the PGA TOUR has some legal obligation to play classic, Platonic golf–and if one assumes the correctness of all the other wrong turns the Court has made to get to this point–then we Justices must confront what is indeed an awesome responsibility. It has been rendered the solemn duty of the Supreme Court of the United States, laid upon it by Congress in pursuance of the Federal Government’s power “[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States,” U.S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 3, to decide What Is Golf. I am sure that the Framers of the Constitution, aware of the 1457 edict of King James II of Scotland prohibiting golf because it interfered with the practice of archery, fully expected that sooner or later the paths of golf and government, the law and the links, would once again cross, and that the judges of this august Court would some day have to wrestle with that age-old jurisprudential question, for which their years of study in the law have so well prepared them: Is someone riding around a golf course from shot to shot really a golfer? The answer, we learn, is yes. The Court ultimately concludes, and it will henceforth be the Law of the Land, that walking is not a “fundamental” aspect of golf."
And finally, one issue that has been in the news recently has been Augusta's lack of female membership. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have stated that they are against the club's policy. Check out the Tarnished Twenty for a brief discussion of the legal issues.

[Image from www.augusta.com, with minor tweaking by a Gallagher Library Intern] Update (Aug. 21, 2012): Augusta National Adds First Two Female Members, N.Y. Times, Aug. 20, 2012.

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