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

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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.

From the Executive Director: WOW!!!

WOW!!  What a great 2018 PGA Merchandise Show week in Orlando.  More than 40,000 attended to view the latest in equipment, travel and fashion.  This year there were education opportunities on accessibility and inclusion of individuals with disabilities, and a dedicated area on the exhibit floor.  It is definitely movement in the right direction to bring to the attention of the industry that golf is for everyone.

DSC_0371Capping off the week in Orlando on January 26th, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf staged its first annual education conference on accessibility and inclusion.  More than 50 people attended to learn more from experts and share about including individuals with disabilities into the game and into life.  The highlight was our keynote speaker, Sam Depe III.  A PGA Professional and course owner from Pennsylvania, and winner of the PGA of America Deacon Palmer Award, Sam spoke about his disability, how that hasn’t held him back from achieving success in business and life, and about the need for inclusion in the game.  It was very inspiration to all in attendance!

While in Orlando, we had the opportunity to attend the Advisory Committee meeting for Golf 20/20 (to be known henceforth as We Are Golf), and attend round-table discussions on Diversity and Inclusion for Golf 20/20.  Often times when the industry talks about diversity and inclusion, it usually is in reference to gender, ethnic minority or youth.  But we had an opportunity to raise the point to ensure that when the industry talks about this topic, they also include individuals with disability.  After all, disability crosses all segments of society.

In closing this month, we want to remind you that grant funding is available for grassroots programs that are engaging individuals with disabilities in an inclusive program.  Check out the grant process at www.accessgolf.org under the Grant tab.

PS: Keep an eye out on our website at www.accessgolf.org for photos and some of the PowerPoint presentations that we had from the Conference on January 26.  They should be available online shortly.

Steve Jubb, PGA, CEO/Executive Director

 

From the Executive Director: Looking Back But Focusing Forward

Well, Happy New Year to everyone. We started plans to host our first annual conference on Accessibility and Inclusion, January 26, 2018. Being held at the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Drive in Orlando next to the Orange County Convention Center and the PGA Merchandise Show that week, it is going to feature guest speakers and round-table discussions on best practices in areas such as engaging youth with different abilities, military and veterans, etc., along with updates on ADA, engaging with Special Olympics, serving youth in the autism spectrum to mention a few of the topics. Registration spots are limited so sign up today (before January 15th) at http://www.accessgolf.org. Also In 2017 through the USGA/National Alliance for Accessible Golf, we awarded more than $60,000 in grants to grassroots programs. Since inception of the grant program, we have awarded more than $800,000. Funding is available so check out the grant program also on our website at http://www.accessgolf.org.

As I write this blog, I would like to look back to excerpts of a blog I wrote back in January 2016. Those comments are still applicable today. “When we talk in the golf industry about growing the game and also the business of golf, we generally focus on youth, women and other minority populations, or those who have left the game or decreased their rounds. This is great as we need to strive to ensure that golf is available to everyone. After all, it is a game you can play whether you are 8 or 88. But often times, we don’t consider a segment of our population that is willing and ready to consider our sport. There are over 57 million people in the United States who have some form of disability, or as I prefer, individuals with “unique abilities”. In surveys that have been conducted over the last 20 years, it is estimated that 10 percent currently play golf. 22 percent played before incurring their disability, but 35 percent may have an interest in engaging with golf at whatever level their ability allows.” “So now you are asking, how do I connect with individuals with “unique abilities”. Well, I am sure that near your community there are hospitals or rehab facilities that are looking for options in therapeutic recreation. There may be a VA hospital in your area. Also, there are Special Olympics chapters all over the country that would love to connect with instructors for the Special Olympics Athletes. Individuals with “different abilities” are out there and would love to connect with you and the game of golf. They just need that knock on the door and encouragement that they can engage or re-engage with golf at whatever level they can.” Together, let’s make 2018 a great and inclusive year in golf!

Steve Jubb, PGA – CEO/Executive Director