A club pro from Indiana
who sued the U.S. Golf Association for the right to ride a cart in U.S. Open
qualifying lost his appeal today. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court in Chicago decided
that a cart would change the nature of competition.
The decision against Ford
Olinger came one day after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court in San Francisco upheld
a lower court ruling that allows Casey Martin to ride a cart on the PGA Tour.
Spokesmen for the USGA
and PGA Tour declined comment today until they could review the opinion from
the Chicago court.
Olinger and Martin both
sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Martin, who suffers from
a rare circulatory disease in his right leg that makes it difficult for him to
walk 18 holes, won his lawsuit against the tour in early 1998. The USGA went
along with the Oregon federal court's decision by allowing Martin a cart during
U.S. Open qualifying. Martin advanced, and tied for 23rd at The Olympic Club.
Olinger, who has a degenerative
hip disorder, received a temporary restraining order and used a cart during '98
Open qualifying. He shot an 83 and was eliminated.
In May 1999, a federal
judge in South Bend, Ind., ruled against his request for a cart, saying it would
fundamentally alter the nature of the tournament. Olinger limped badly and shot
an 88 to again fail to advance past the first stage.
Today, the 7th Circuit
court upheld the ruling.
"Must the USGA allow Ford
Olinger to compete while riding in a golf cart instead of walking? The answer
is no," the opinion said.
"The decision on whether
the rules of the game should be adjusted to accommodate him is best left to those
who hold the future of golf in trust," the court said, adding that the law does
not force the USGA to make the accommodation Olinger sought.
Olinger could not be immediately
reached for comment.