I was thrilled by the Supreme Court's decision to give Casey
Martin a cart but disheartened by the reaction of Tour officials
and players who fear that the Tour could be overrun by carts.
The innate bigotry fueling their fears is the same bigotry that
lay behind the Caucasian-only clause barring blacks from Tour
events until 1961, when a fight that I had initiated forced the
PGA of America to drop that offensive and illegal provision.
There's no reason to fear carts. Few, if any, golfers besides
Casey have the ability to play on the Tour and also have a
physical handicap that would necessitate a cart.
I was elected California attorney general in 1958 and became
aware of the PGA's Caucasian-only clause in '59, when I received
a handwritten letter from Charlie Sifford saying that he was
qualified to be a PGA member and play in Tour events but that the
PGA wouldn't allow him to join or regularly play because of the
color of his skin. The 1962 PGA Championship had been scheduled
for Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, but I told PGA
officials that it was illegal to bar a competitor because of his
race and that I'd take them to court if they didn't let Charlie
play. I also wrote to the attorneys general of the other states
asking them to stand behind me. Rather than confront me, the PGA
moved the '62 PGA to Philadelphia. But under pressure from me and
organizations like the NAACP, the PGA dropped the Caucasian-only
clause in November 1961.
Casey and Charlie's cases are similar in that both men faced
rules attempting to bar them from golf because of irrelevant
qualifications. African-Americans and physically disabled
athletes have the same desire to compete as other humans, and if
their abilities are up to par, there's no reason they shouldn't
have the opportunity to play at their sport's highest levels. Had
it not been for Charlie Sifford, we might never have heard of
Tiger Woods. Who knows? Maybe Casey Martin has opened the door
for golf's next superstar.
Stanley Mosk, 88, is a California State Supreme Court justice.
COLOR PHOTO: GERRY GROPP