Game Under Repair is closely following the first stage of Q-School, which began at six sites on Tuesday. Not only am I drawn to the usual first-stage mix of somewhat notable names and unknowns, I also have a good friend in the mix this week. Stay posted, as I’ll be following Q School throughout the rigorous three stages.

UGA Magazine)

Erik Compton attempting to qualify for the PGA Tour just five months after a second heart transplant. (Image: UGA Magazine)

One story making the rounds this week involves the Casey Martin rule. Martin, you’ll remember, won a Supreme Court case several years ago that allowed him to use a golf cart in PGA Tour sanctioned events. A chronic leg condition kept Casey from walking the course.

Just five months ago, former University of Georgia All American Erik Compton received his second heart transplant. I repeat, his SECOND heart transplant. Based on the Martin rule, Compton will be riding a cart during his four rounds at Crandon Park Golf Course in Key Biscayne, Florida. After two days, Compton is +7 (76-75), currently five shots out of the top 23–the number to advance to second stage.

After two heart transplants–the second of which was just five months ago–it’s truly amazing that Compton is even playing golf right now. The guy really has to be an inspiration to transplant patients across the world. That’s why I’m stunned by some golfing experts out there that believe Compton shouldn’t be allowed to use the cart.

For instance, John Antonini, Senior Editor of Golf World magazine, who says:

I can’t help but think that others who just had hip replacements or knee surgeries will also request, and be allowed, carts because they can’t walk the course during their rehabilitation periods. According to Moriarty’s article, Compton requested the use of a cart upon the suggestion of his doctors. Here’s hoping he eventually is healthy enough to continue his pro golf career while playing the game the way it’s meant to be played. By walking.

Seriously? Are we really comparing a heart transplant to an ACL surgery? I’m not a doctor, and I don’t presume to know the technical details of a heart transplant. But ACL surgeries require rehab periods, maybe a year or two, max. Wouldn’t you say a heart transplant require a little more adjustment than a year or two of rehab?  A lifestyle change, perhaps?

I mean, the guy had a heart attack in March, which brought about the second transplant. A heart attack at age 26…and you’re comparing this to a knee surgery?

I don’t know. I just always find these curmudgeon writers and old fart golf pros repulsive–these guys who piss on the Casey Martins and Erik Comptons of the world because they can’t play the game “the way it’s meant to be played.” 

The golf cart doesn’t give these guys an advantage. Are you kidding me? Martin couldn’t physically walk the length of the golf course. And Compton now faces the same issue. I would call that a decided disadvantage, and a golf cart is not going to fix that.

I’m all about the PGA Tour pros walking. It’s the way golf started, and it’s the way golf should continue. But there are exceptions, and Erik Compton is one of them.  I’m sure if he could physically walk the course this week, he’d be out there doing it. Here’s hoping he makes up those five shots in the next two days and advances on to second stage. 

To read all of John Antonini’s comments, and to read some other more balanced opinions on Compton, check out this ESPN article.