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What Is Golf?
"A good walk spoiled."
Mark Twain
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PGA TOUR, INC.

V.

CASEY MARTIN
What Is Golf?

Justice Scalia Dissent
June 29, 1972
Seal Of The Supreme Court
Excerpt:

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," 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.

...(Many, indeed, consider walking to be the central feature of the game of golf -- hence Mark Twain's classic criticism of the sport: "a good walk spoiled.")
I suppose there is some point at which the rules of a well-known game are changed to such a degree that no reasonable person would call it the same game. If the PGA Tour competitors were required to dribble a large, inflated ball and put it through a round hoop, the game could no longer reasonably be called golf. But this criterion -- destroying recognizability as the same generic game -- is surely not the test of "essentialness" or "fundamentalness" that the Court applies, since it apparently thinks that merely changing the diameter of the cup might "fundamentally alter" the game of golf.


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