From the Executive Director: Add Us to Your January Calendar

I’m just back from a road trip north from Florida, and in some areas the leaves have changed and in other areas it hasn’t. Fall always signals for me that another year is closing. But also it becomes time to look ahead and the opportunities that we have to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access and are included in the game of golf.

Some of those opportunities include education and training. The  Alliance will be at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL, in January. We are currently finalizing our plans and should have the details uploaded to www.accessgolf.org shortly with registration information. If you are attending the PGA Show, make sure you sign up for the National Alliance for Accessible Golf Education Conference on January 23, 2019.  It will be a half-day session with topics such as accessibility and inclusion at your golf facility or program, best practices for programs serving individuals with disabilities, and best practices to ensure sustainability of your program. Continuing Education hours/credits will be available for registrants who require them for their organization membership.

In addition, the Alliance will be at the Golf Industry Show and National Golf Course Owners of America (NGCOA) Conference in February in San Diego, CA.

While education and training is one of our organization’s strategic pillars, we also want to remind you that the Alliance has a grant program funded by the United States Golf Association. The grants that are awarded are for programs that are developing individuals with disabilities through the game of golf. For more information, visit www.accessgolf.org and click on the “Grants” tab for criteria, grant application process, etc.

Finally, Tuesday, November 27 is #GivingTuesday. As we approach the end of the year, many of us look at ways we can support various non-profits with a charitable gift. While the National Alliance does receive support from the major allied associations of golf, we are reliant on support from individuals as well so we can ensure our mission to increase awareness and participation in the game of golf by individuals with disabilities.  Consider the Alliance in your charitable giving this year. You can make a donation by going to our website at www.accessgolf.org and click on the “Donate” button in the top right of our homepage.  Your support will make a difference.

Until next month, “Choose to Include.”

Steve Jubb, PGA – Executive Director

 

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From the Executive Director: Thinking Ahead to 2019

October is here already.  Time flies.  Before you know it, we will be using 2019 as the year.

Speaking of 2019, we wanted to let you know that the National Alliance is putting together education opportunities at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in January, finalizing plans for the Golf Industry Show, and National Golf Course Owners Association Business of Golf Conference in San Diego in February. We are always available for opportunities to educate and expand the awareness that golf is for everyone. If your organization is looking for a speaker or education session on accessibility and inclusion of individuals with disabilities, reach out to us at info@accessgolf.org. Across the country we have contact with many individuals that are engaged with using golf to improve the lives of those they serve. It may be a PGA or LPGA Professional, a program coordinator, or even yours truly. We can connect you.

Did you know that we have a search engine on our website at www.accessgolf.org?  If you are an individual looking for a program or facility that is welcoming to individuals with disabilities, check it out. While the coverage of the search engine doesn’t cover every location, it can be a great starting point. If you have a facility or program that engages and is welcoming to individuals with disabilities, use the link on the homepage of www.accessgolf.org to enter your facility or program into the search engine.

Finally, as we approach the end of the year and especially as we each look towards filing our tax returns for 2018, we ask that you consider supporting the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. While we do receive support from the various golf associations, we are reliant on individual donations as well to provide the grants, promotions/advocacy for golf to be inclusive, and education/training programs around the country. Please consider making a year-end donation to the National Alliance by going to our website (www.accessgolf.org) and clicking on the “DONATE” button on the upper right corner of the homepage.

Thank you in advance for considering to support the National Alliance.

See you next month!

black calendar close up composition

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Steve Jubb, PGA

From the Executive Director: Good Advice

It is hard to believe it is September already.  Where did the summer go?  Hopefully for those of you that conduct programs to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to play our game of golf, you have had a great summer.  For those of you who operate golf facilities, I hope that you have looked at ways to ensure that your facility is accessible and your programs are inclusive.  And finally, for those of you who may have a disability, I hope you have looked beyond what you may see or feel as limitations and looked at the possibilities and opportunities to engage in not only golf but in life!  Get out there and participate and learn at whatever level your “abilities” allow.  That is actually good advice for all of us.

Just the other day, I saw on Facebook a post about a golfer with a disability in the UK who was denied access to a golf course because he needed to use a “buggy,” as they call a golf car in the UK.  Based on the facts stated in the article I read, the club had a policy that required walking unless a golfer had a letter from a doctor justifying use of a “buggy.”  It was a public access golf course owned by the town.  The person in question is an experienced golfer, has competed in European Disabled Golf Association events, and has played several courses in the UK and never had an issue with this type of request previously.

In the US, requirements for accessibility and accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are different. Reading through the Department of Justice documentation in ADA requirements can be challenging.  To help you out with this topic, you can access our resource, the Toolkit for Course Owners/Operators, that should assist you.

If you are interested in how to make your facility more welcoming, visit this helpful resource on People First Language by Kathy Snow.  It is a great training tool for your front-line employees. It is imperative when serving individuals with disabilities that you use the correct language.  Over one in five individuals in our country have a disability. It is one of the most inclusive and diverse groups in our country.  It crosses all segments of our population.  So, it is important to use the correct language.

Make sure if you have a program or if your facility is accessible and welcoming to golfers with disabilities, visit our website to include your information in our search engine.  Individuals across the country are looking for programs and facilities that are welcoming.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf would love to hear about your programs, accessible facilities, and your involvement in the game.  Send your best practices, photos, videos, and stories to info@accessgolf.org.

Until next month, have a great September.

Steve Jubb, PGA

CEO/Executive Director

From the Executive Director: More Than an Elevator Pitch

Another hot and rainy summer in Florida, but hopefully everyone has been able to hit the links, wherever you are.  Whether it is a round with family or friends, or playing in one of the many competitions being conducted around the country, it is still a better day on the golf course than not.

AllianceJuly was the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Signed into law in 1990 by President George H. Bush, the ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities.  As we celebrated the 26th Anniversary, we would hope that each of us takes a look at our facilities, golf courses, and programs to ensure that we are providing access to the game of golf for everyone, especially individuals with disabilities.

I just returned from a trip to New Jersey which included a meeting with the United States Golf Association.  During my travels, several people asked me what organization I am affiliated with.  As usual, I give them the 30-second elevator description.  The mission of the National Alliance is to not only increase participation of people with disabilities in the game, but also create and promote awareness of the benefits of accessible golf.  Through golf, individuals with disabilities become actively engaged in the social fabric of a community, and derive health benefits that improve the quality of life.

But the National Alliance goes beyond that and accomplishes its mission through several means:  Education and training resources for golfers and golf facilities; grant funding to grassroots programs that are developing individuals with disabilities into an inclusive environment of golf; promotion to the golf industry and the general public that golf is for everyone; and finally, serving as an advocate for accessible golf.  For more information, check out our website at www.accessgolf.org.

More to come next month so stay tuned for the September blog.  Thank you all for reading this blog monthly, and for making sure that golf is accessible and inclusive for everyone!

Steve Jubb, PGA

 

From the Executive Director: More Than a Competition

Special Olympics - July 2018As I write this month’s blog, I am in Seattle for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games and the golf competition.  We wrapped up the final round yesterday on the Fourth of July with some outstanding play by the Special Olympics Athletes in Level 1 (Skills), the individual stroke play Levels 4 and 5, and the Athletes with their Unified Partners in the Unified Levels 2 and 3 of the competition. As Golf Competition Director and Field of Play Manager, it was, as always, a great time reuniting with the Athletes, Partners, Coaches, and family members that I have met over the last 20-plus years of involvement with Special Olympics, along with meeting new participants from the various state delegations represented here at the Games.

My involvement with Special Olympics started back in the late 1980s when a friend and fellow PGA Professional Wayne Warms and I introduced golf as a demonstration sports and clinic at the State Summer Games in New Jersey.  At that time, golf was not part of Special Olympics and it wasn’t until the 1990s that it was part of the national and world games.  Since then, my love and passion for engaging with Special Olympics Athletes has not waned.  Yes, these Special Olympics Athletes love competing for the medals but it goes beyond that.  They just love playing the game of golf.  In fact, some of them actually compete in State Golf Association amateur events around the country. Bottom line, it is all about inclusion in the game and life.  If you would like more information about Special Olympics, visit www.specialolympics.org.

Finally, July is National Alliance for Accessible Golf Awareness month.  Check out our website at www.accessgolf.org for program grants, resources, search engine, toolkits for courses and individuals with disabilities, articles, best practices, etc. To learn more about the impact of the grants on local programs, follow the hashtags #GrantsinAction and #ImpactofInclusion to hear the voices of program participants and coordinators during the month of July.

Together we can all make the game of golf inclusive and accessible.

Steve Jubb, PGA

From the Executive Director: Together We Can

I can’t believe it!  Almost half the year is already gone by and most of you out there are in the middle of summer programming to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to the game of golf and life.  Hope it is going well for you all.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf has had a busy year thus far.   We had golf industry meetings at the PGA Merchandise Show.  We conducted our first annual education conference on accessibility and inclusion.  We participated in National Golf Day on Capitol Hill in DC in April followed by our annual National Alliance Board of Directors meeting in Alexandria, VA.   All this along with the various grants we have distributed to grassroots programs for accessible and inclusive programming.  To date since inception in 2010, we have awarded more $860,000 in grants.  We would like to give a big shout out to the USGA for their support of the grant program, along with the other allied associations and partners that assist the National Alliance.

DYK - Toolkit for GolfersComing up in July is National Alliance for Accessible Golf Awareness month.  Check out our website for resources, search engine, tool kits for courses and individuals with disabilities, articles, best practices, etc.

Together we can all make this game inclusive and accessible.

In July, we are going to be at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, from July 1-4, assisting in the golf competition for Special Olympics.  The Unified competition with Special Olympics is a great example of inclusion with athletes partnered with an individual without an intellectual disability.  Stacey Johnston from Montana is a Special Olympics Athlete who will be on the rules officiating team in Seattle.  Stacey is a tremendous young lady, knowledgeable of the rules as well as being a great spokesperson for inclusion in the game of golf.  I look forward to joining her in July.

Until July, have a great June improving lives through the game of Golf.

Steve Jubb, PGA – CEO/Executive Director

From the Executive Director: “When in Doubt, Choose to Include”

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Hard to believe it is May 2018 already.  Grassroots programs around the country are gearing up for the summer.  As we move towards the summer, (and all year round), let’s remember that golf is for everyone.  If you manage a golf course or facility and have any questions about how to do that, check out www.accessgolf.org under Resources or contact us at info@accessgolf.org.

Last month, we were in Washington, DC, to participate in National Golf Day on Capitol Hill.  Each year, the golf industry gathers to meet with members of Congress to discuss issues that are facing the industry but also to share the impact that golf has on the economy and the positive impact it has on lives.  One of the focal points being discussed was the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act.  If passed, this legislation would allow individuals with disabilities (in our case) to pay for personal physical fitness activities with their health savings account, including golf.  The golf industry is lobbying to ensure that golf is included in the approved use of the funds, as it has been shown that golf contributes to the health and wellness of individuals.

This year at National Golf Day, we were able to have a display in the Rayburn Foyer of the House of Representatives’ Rayburn Office Building.  One thing we noticed was a growing interest by members of Congress and their staff members who visited the Foyer looking for more information or guidance on how an individual with disability could engage with the game of golf.   We referred a couple of individuals who had family or friends with disabilities to programs in their local area.   In addition, we were interviewed for a future podcast about golf for individuals with disabilities.

In addition, we conducted our Spring Board Meeting and focused on the strategic direction for the organization for the next three years.  As we fine tune that plan, we will share it in the next couple of months. All in all, it was a very productive time in DC.

On May 8 and 9, we will be attending the US Disabled Open at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, FL.  Hosted by the US Disabled Golf Association, this tournament has individuals attending from around the world.  Go to www.usdga.net for more information.

As I conclude this blog, everyone out there please follow the words of Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International, “When in doubt, choose to include.”  Golf can be and is a sport that accessibility and inclusion can prevail.

 

Stephen Jubb, PGA

CEO/Executive Director

From the Executive Director: 8 or 88

green_grass-605.jpgAs we move into Spring around most of the country (although Mother Nature still could surprise some of us), hopefully you have or are getting ready to get out there and enjoy our great sport, Golf.  Golf is a great sport – one you can play whether you are 8 or 88.

When I first got into the golf business, I was a golf professional at a little 9-hole course in central Florida.  It was a great experience that showed me that golf was going to be my lifelong career.  But what I most remember about those days at that course were those members that had a disability or were advancing in age.

Joe was 70 years old and was a left leg AK (above the knee) amputee.  He had lost his leg many years prior and preceded the advancements we see today in prosthetics.  Joe, as a right handed golfer, had a wooden left leg that he would swing against in his golf swing.  Not only was he an avid golfer, he was very skilled.  In fact you didn’t want to play him for any money for you most likely would go home a few dollars shy (which I did often).  Joe could shoot 1 to 2 over par on that 9-hole course.  He was amazing.

Mike and Rose were also members.  Both in their 90s, with a bit of dementia setting in, they still loved and remembered how to play golf very well.  Each morning they would leave their condo near the course, come over and play nine holes, both would shoot 3 to 4 over par and go back to the condo for lunch and a nap.  Later each afternoon they would return to play another 9 holes and shoot 4 to 5 over par.  They did this each day, except Sunday when they went to church.

So what those experiences taught me then and continues today is that despite age or disability, individuals can enjoy the game of golf for a lifetime.  Today through accessible golf course designs, along with the advancements in adaptive equipment, adaptive teaching techniques, and USGA Modified Rules of Golf for Individuals with Disabilities, the game can be and should be accessible and inclusive.  We in the golf industry just need to open our doors to everyone.

So, together, let’s make the game of golf and life truly “inclusive.”

Steve Jubb, PGA

CEO/Executive Director

p.s. Next month we will share with you our experiences at National Golf Day (April 24-25) plus our annual Spring Board Meeting (April 26).

From the Executive Director: 12 Percent

It is March and hopefully Spring is just around the corner for most of you.  It has been a tough winter.  And with Spring, comes the rush to get out on the course and enjoy this great game that we all love to play and work around.

At various meetings over the last few years, I have heard presenters talk about inclusivity in the game and life.  But there is a population who is often not included in those conversations.  People with disabilities represent over 12% of our population in the United States, according to a survey conducted by the Census Bureau in 2015.  Yet in the media and even our sport, the full reality of their lives is not reflected.

More than one in eight Americans has a disability.  To give a better perspective on how those numbers reflect in the game of golf, currently the golf industry works off dated statistics which showed 10 percent of people with some disability now play golf. Twenty-two percent of those with disabilities played golf before incurring their disability but are not playing now. And 35 percent of individuals with disabilities are currently not playing golf but are interested in learning.  The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is currently working with the United States Golf Association and the National Golf Foundation to update those statistics.

But whatever stats you use, there is a very sizable population that would love to get involved with our sport.  So whether you are a golf organization, golf facility, golf professional, club manager, course superintendent or just someone in the community interested in expanding the game of golf, take a look at expanding who you involved in your programs.  Check out www.accessgolf.org for resources.

But in the end, let’s drop the labels in golf.  These are people that should not be defined by their disability but rather as people.  They just want to play the game with everyone else.  Yes, they may use adaptive equipment or even play using the USGA Modified Rules of Golf, but in the end, they just want to play Golf.

So if you are interested in engaging these individuals into your programs, reach out to the community organizations that serve them and invite them to be a part of our great sport.

Together, let’s make the game of golf and life truly “inclusive.”

Steve Jubb, PGA

Executive Director, National Alliance for Accessible Golf

 

Grants in Action: Veteran Empowerment Through the Game Of Golf

Special to the Alliance Blog: Kim Seevers, Adaptive Sports Foundation, Program Development & Grants Director

Golf 1 GroupTwelve U.S. combat veterans gather around a table at the Adaptive Sports Center in Windham, NY. A few greet old friends, injured veterans they’ve participated with in previous Adaptive Sports Foundation events. Others sit quietly, faces pinched with nervous energy, unable to engage with the others. One finds it hard to even enter the building as this is one of the few times he’s left his home since returning from combat and/or rehabilitation. Everyone is quickly drawn into the circle by ASF staff, volunteers, and the program alums, many of whom felt the same trepidation the first time they came to a Warriors in Motion program. All have some type of disability; amputation, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, orthopedic problems of all types, or combat or post- traumatic stress. On the agenda is a three-day golf camp for injured troops; they will spend the next three days learning the game of golf, talking about wellness and nutrition, pursuing restorative yoga, practicing relaxation techniques to improve their sleep habits, and connecting with other veterans who have been through similar military experiences. They share meals, and after dinner, they relax together in the cozy comfort of the Adaptive Sports Center.

Yes this is just a golf camp, but make no mistake, the healing effects of the program will last well beyond the three or four rounds played over these next three days.
The physical, emotional and economic toll of a serious service-related injury does not end when the service member leaves the military. Years after they are discharged, veterans who were badly hurt while serving are more than twice as likely as their more fortunate comrades to say they had trouble readjusting to civilian life. A warrior who attended all three WiM golf camps last summer relayed this up-date to us after his program ended.

“Last May I was a lost soul. Though I never attempted suicide, every day I wished to die, mostly because all the pain I felt, and the misery I caused people because of my pain, would go away. I was 248 pounds and was on medication. Today I weigh 203 pounds. I have taken part in initiating a Suicide Awareness Ruck on Veterans Day. I’ve spoken on the topic to my daughter’s school. I’ve run a Ragnar Relay and ran a sprint triathlon and a half marathon (with my golf instructor). In summary I would tell you that your programs change lives. One life I can assure you is mine.”

ASF staff and volunteers believe in the power of the outdoors and the benefits of the tranquility of a day spent on the Windham Country Club golf course with the beautiful Catskill Mountains in the background. We believe in the emotional healing and subsequent empowerment of our injured heroes. We know that regular exercise reduces stress, obesity, depression and secondary medical conditions for individuals with disabilities.

“ASF is an important part of warriors succeeding in obtaining a viable activity level. They encouraged me even when I felt failure, they stood by my side to assure that I obtained the skills that were long terms goals to improve my life. ASF has taught me the beginner skills that I have taken back to my community to use on my own (golf, kayak, and cycling). Learning these new skills has also increased my motivation to continue being active, which in turn assists with my depression and sleep.”

Warriors in Motion programming strives to impact the ‘whole warrior’ in three aspects of their recovery; physical, cognitive, and social. According to the Penn State Hershey Center for Nutrition and Activity, because of their low impact nature, activities like paddling, cycling, golf, and hiking are all useful tools for people in rehabilitation to gently increase strength and aerobic fitness without doing any harm to existing injuries. These activities have also been proven to improve joint health and flexibility and to increase range of motion which keeps joints fluid and lubricated.

With support from the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, ASF was able to offer three multi-day golf camps between May and September 2017. The Alliance provided funding for greens fees, coaching fees, and to help the veterans pay for their travel expenses to get to the camp. This support will continue through the 2018 program, allowing Adaptive Sports Foundation and the National Alliance for Accessible Golf to impact even more injured veterans the prospect of recovery through the game of golf.