From the Executive Director: A Fond Farewell

Hello again from the National Alliance. With 2021 over, it has been a challenging but still a wonderful year in our efforts to advance inclusion of individuals with disabilities through the game of golf. While the National Alliance does not conduct grassroots programs, we do support those efforts through the resources we provide such as education opportunities to ensure the game of golf is truly inclusive and at the same time accessible for individuals with disabilities.

Throughout the year, we have worked with more than one hundred golf facilities helping them become more accessible through an understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how to make their facilities welcoming to individuals with disabilities. The resources we have provided included our industry-based toolkit for facilities, education presentations at various industry events including the Golf Industry Show, and providing technical knowledge about ADA and what is required to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Since 2001 when the National Alliance was formed, we have continued to strive to be a leader in providing resources and being a clearinghouse for not only the golf industry but for individuals as well.

In addition, our Research Taskforce is continuing to work on collecting data and statistics about those with disabilities who are actively engaged in golf with a comparative against the total population of individuals with disabilities in the United States which stands at 61 million. For those who may not be aware, that population has a discretionary income (over and above the necessities of life) exceeding $21 billion. As we have said before, these are individuals who not only are potential golfers, but they are also potential customers.

As we move into 2022, we are looking forward to restarting our annual Inclusion Conference during the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando on January 26. We will be offering a series of four, one-hour sessions on various topics and a networking opportunity. Registration details will be forthcoming on www.accessgolf.org.

As I close out this blog and 2021, I want to thank the National Alliance for Accessible Golf for allowing me to serve as their Executive Director for the last seven years. Not only has it been rewarding personally and professionally, more importantly, I hope that I have made a difference in ensuring that individuals with disabilities can not only enjoy the game of golf but also life. So, with that, I bid you all farewell, but I am sure our paths will cross at some point. As we all go forth, remember the words of Tim Shriver of Special Olympics International – “Choose to Include.”

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM – Executive Director

National Alliance Seeks New Executive Director

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is seeking its next Executive Director to lead the organization and advance its mission to ensure the opportunity for all individuals with disabilities to play the game of golf.

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM, has been a valuable asset serving in this role and his passion and professionalism has carried this important group through challenging times. We are thankful for the countless hours he has given to the work of the National Alliance and recognize and appreciate the effort he has given over the past six years. We wish him all the best in retirement!

Access the complete position description and listing below or via Indeed:

Executive Director Position Description

This is a full-time, salaried, and remote work position. Applications for this position are due by January 15, 2022.

All applications should be directed through Indeed.

From the Executive Director: What Does Disability Look Like?

2021 is almost over – just another month to go. The last couple of years have been challenging for us all especially those with disabilities. But we are looking forward to 2022 as we strive to ensure that the game of golf and life is truly inclusive. But to do so, we need to be welcoming as a sport and industry. Not all disabilities are visible.

Language is also extremely important. How many times have you heard people refer to an individual with a disability as “a handicapped person”? Or used the “R” word to describe an individual with intellectual disability? Or refer to someone as a “dwarf or midget”? These are some of the descriptions we need to change. A disability description is just a medical diagnosis. In communications with people, we need to focus on the individual first. Use phrases such as a “Person with a disability,” a “Person with intellectual disability,” or a “Person short in stature.”  Always put the Person first in your communication. A Person with a disability is a Person just like those without disability. They just happen to have a medical diagnosis. Better yet just refer to them as a Person!! 

A great resource from the CDC concerning People First Language is:

Communicating With and About People with Disabilities | CDC

There are more than 61 million individuals with disabilities in the United States, and they are a potential market for the golf industry. Disability crosses all segments of society. Yes, not all will gravitate to golf, but keep in mind that this population has over $21 billion in discretionary income (that is over and above the essentials of life such as mortgages, rent, food and health care). They are consumers, many of whom are looking for recreational activities. Make your golf courses, community golf programs and instruction programs accessible, inclusive, and most importantly, welcoming them to the game of golf and life.

Since 2001, we have promoted, advocated, and provided education/training programs and resources to individuals with disabilities and the golf industry to ensure inclusion. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, and as we look forward to the next 20 years and beyond, we need your support.

With 2021 ending soon, we ask that you consider a donation to the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. It is easy to make a year-end donation to the National Alliance. Go to www.accessgolf.org/donate. Thank you in advance for considering the National Alliance for Accessible Golf in your year-end giving.

Finally, may you all have a safe and happy holiday season.

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM – Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Teaching Golf and Life

2021 is almost over – only a couple of months left. Many of you are wrapping up your fall programs and for some of you the golf season is ending. We hope it has been a wonderful year for you, whether you run a facility, a program, or are involved in a program that ensures accessibility and inclusion.

Over the course of the last several years as Executive Director and in my prior role with PGA of America, I have seen many organizations form to serve individuals with different abilities— including those with physical, mental/cognitive, visual, auditory, and other challenges. Many programs are out there fighting the good fight for inclusion and accessibility and some have left this arena. In the end, they all have a place in the universal effort to ensure that individuals with different abilities have access to our game and to life. They all have a niche and I applaud each of them for their efforts.

Over the recent years, one of the terms I have noticed used by some of these organizations and programs is “Adaptive Golf.” Well, stepping back and looking at it, we all are just teaching and engaging individuals in “Golf” and at the same time “Life.” We may use adaptive equipment. We may adapt our instruction plans to accommodate the abilities of the individual. We may adapt the traditional round of golf (9 or 18) and engage individuals at whatever level of the game they can. They may just putt on the putting green. They may just hit balls on the range. They may play one hole, three holes or whatever. But in the end, they are all engaged with our sport – Golf! So, if you are a golf course operator or golf professional, golf course owner, golf course management company, program coordinator, or therapist, see how you can connect with the sixty-one million individuals with different abilities in our country, and see if you can get them involved with golf. Not only will they experience a game and all it offers but think of the social and psychological benefits of getting out of the house or rehab facility, out into the fresh air and green grass.

And if you have a current program, are a facility that welcomes individuals with different abilities, have an instructional program for these individuals and have a community based program serving this population through golf, go to www.accessgolf.org/submit-information  to enter your information into our search engine.  Individuals with different abilities are looking to engage with our sport. While on our website, check out our Resource page for helpful information about making golf more accessible, inclusive, and welcoming.

Finally, 20 years ago, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf was founded. Our mission is “to increase participation of people with disabilities in the game of golf.” We work to ensure that these individuals can engage with our sport at whatever level their abilities allow. As we celebrate 20 years, join us in the efforts to make golf more welcoming, accessible, and inclusive. You can support our mission today by going to www.accessgolf.org/donate.

Until next month, keep it in the middle of the fairway and always, “Choose to Include.”

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

From the Executive Director: Furthering Our Mission for 20 Years

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 (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 goes for us all. We all need to “Make Golf Our Thing.”

Back in 2001, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf was created to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access and can experience the game of golf at whatever level their abilities allow. As a golf industry alliance, over the years we have provided resources, education/training, research, and support to grassroots programs. As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we look forward to continuing our efforts. While we are supported by the golf industry, we need your support as well to provide our programs and achieve our mission. Please take a moment to consider a donation to the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. You can go to our website at www.accessgolf.org/donate to contribute. Thank you in advance for your support.

For this month’s blog, I am going to revert a few years to one of my previous blogs, but the story and subject still resonates today. 

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.  Supposedly the club had a policy that required walking unless he 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 has competed in European Disabled Golf Association events, is a very good golfer and has played several courses in the UK and never had an issue using a “buggy”. There is an ongoing lawsuit in this case, so I can’t comment on the particular case at this time.

In the US, golf courses need to be aware and knowledgeable of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for accessibility and accommodation. Reading through the Department of Justice documentation in ADA requirements can be challenging but worth the while to ensure your course is compliant. To help you out with this topic, you can visit www.accessgolf.org and click on Resources. There you will find a Toolkit for Course Operators that should assist you.

Access our Toolkits and other resources at http://www.accessgolf.org.

Also, make sure you click on the Links tab and check out the link to www.disabilityisnatural.com  and have a look at the document “People First Language” by Kathy Snow.  It is very important when serving individuals with disabilities that you use the correct language. More than 61 million individuals in our country have a disability. It is one of the most inclusive and diverse groups in our country, crossing all segments of our population. So, it is important to use the correct language. Oh, and by the way, this population has more than $21 billion dollars in discretionary income, (that’s income over and above mortgage, rent, food, medical, and other necessities of life). They are potential customers. 

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. Also make sure if you have a program, instruct individuals with disabilities or if your facility is accessible and welcoming to golfers with disabilities, go to our website at www.accessgolf.org/submit-information to include your information in our search engine. Individuals across the country are looking for programs, instruction and facilities that are welcoming. 

Until next month, “Choose to Include” and “Make Golf Your Thing.”

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Considering Digital Accessibility

White Keyboard with back lighting

Another hot 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.

In last month’s blog, we discussed the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it relates to physical accessibility. But accessibility goes beyond just the physical structure of your facility, the golf course, and even how your facility or program welcomes people with disabilities.

Beyond reviewing your facilities and staff training, take time to review your digital presence to ensure accessibility. Accessibility includes your website, tee time process, apps, digital videos, payment system, etc. Think through the process and experience:

  • Can someone with a visual disability use screen-reader software for your website? 
  • Can someone with a visual or hearing disability make a tee time at your facility or register for your programs? 

It may help you win and retain customers and help you avoid potential lawsuits, as noted in this recent Wall Street Journal article.

In our own discussions with our website provider, it has become apparent that web browsers have taken over more and more of the heavy lifting with regard to accessibility features. For example, websites no longer need to specify font size increases, etc. Take time to have this conversation with your digital partners and share these resources from Google Chrome, detailing the many accessibility features provided by modern browsers.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more work that can be done. As the article points out, it’s a bit of a moving target since there are no hard-and-fast rules on what constitutes accessibility in the technology realm. But we’re going to keep working at it.

On our website at www.accessgolf.org under Resources, you will find not only our toolkits for operators and for individuals with disabilities, but also links to other resources that will help make this game inclusive.

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

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Providing Access to the Game

Hope everyone is having a great summer and are on the links playing our great sport, a sport that anyone can play, young or old, no matter what one’s ability level is. It may be that one only can engage with golf on the putting green, on the range, only play 1 or 2 holes or play 9 or 18 holes. But they are involved in golf. It is a sport that allows one to get out of the house, into an open-air environment with friends and family. It can be a healthy sport from a physical, mental, and social perspective. So, get out and play and “Make Golf Your Thing” (#makegolfyourthing).

I would like to take a moment and speak about accessibility and inclusion in our sport for individuals with disabilities. Despite efforts by the National Alliance and other organizations, I get calls about golf courses or organizations that are not providing access to the game for individuals with disabilities. I keep hoping that these cases are few and far between, but they still exist.

This month on July 26th, we are celebrating the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

Americans with Disabilities Act - ADA 31 - Celebrate the ADA! July 26, 2021

Let’s all get behind the efforts to ensure that golf courses and programs provide reasonable access to the game. That includes your facilities infrastructure such as clubhouse, bathrooms, etc. but it also includes access on the golf course. That may mean access to a tee, to a fairway, or to a putting green. If you are conducting a golf program for individuals with disabilities, you need to ensure that those individuals have access. 

For programs and access, we also mean that policies, procedures, and other factors. These may include access to make tee times, proving materials in accessible format, using warning systems for those that have a hearing disability, and allowing someone with a visual disability to use a guide at no cost provided the guide is not playing. 

On the equipment side, while the Department of Justice has still not ruled that public access courses must have adaptive mobility devices such as a SoloRider or a ParaGolfer (to mention a few), you must allow someone with such a device to use it to play golf. You might consider partnering with other golf courses in your area in the purchase of one and pool usage between the various courses based on tee time reservation requests. 

One key to having such equipment available is how do you market the fact that you have it available for individuals with disabilities. Reach out to organizations in your community that serve those individuals and develop a golf program for the organizations’ clients, patients, or participants. Those organizations may have never thought about using golf as part of their program. And finally, there are the Modified Rules of Golf for Individuals with Disabilities (go to our Resource page on our website at www.accessgolf.org).

If you are an individual with disability looking for a golf facility and or program that is accessible, has instruction programs and/or has adaptive golf equipment, then check out our search engine on www.accessgolf.org. You can search by zip code as well as specific instruction programs and find a course nearby. Keep in mind that we are constantly building our database and each day adding new facilities. Also, if you operate a golf facility, program, or instruct individuals with disabilities, we would love to have you on this search engine. Visit www.accessgolf.org/Submit-Information to get started.

Until next month, have a great summer on the Links!  If you have a friend or family member that happens to have a disability, invite them out to the golf course. Maybe just to ride along, maybe to just putt on the green, or maybe to just have fun with family or friends! So, remember always to “Choose to Include” and “Make Golf Your Thing!”

Stephen Jubb, PGA/LM Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Make Golf Your Thing

Hello.  I cannot believe we are 5 months into 2021.  As summer is upon us, I hope everyone has a chance to get out and enjoy this great game, golf.  It is a game that can be played by young and old, all sectors of the population including individuals with disabilities. 

On May 12, the National Alliance participated virtually along with the golf industry for  National Golf Day.  Each year, this normally in-person event allows the golf industry to engage with members of Congress on major issues dealing with golf.  One of the topics this year was the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act.  PHIT promotes physical health by allowing the use of pre-tax medical funds such as FSA and HSA accounts to pay for qualified fitness and sports expenses of up to $1,000 per year for individuals or $2,000 for heads of households.  The benefits of PHIT Act help individuals and families overcome financial barriers to active lifestyles.  Some of the items covered under the PHIT Act include lessons and clinics, green fees, sports equipment, among other things. 

The CDC recommends that “healthy adults should participate in moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, five days a week.”  And golf provides a great opportunity to get out and get healthy, no matter your ability.  If you can walk, walking 18 holes equals a 31/2 mile run or a 5-mile walk.  Even if you are not able to walk, getting out and playing  can greatly improve your health, physically and mentally.  That is why the golf industry feels the PHIT ACT is so important.  Based on the discussion with members of Congress on National Golf Day, there is strong support for the PHIT Act. 

On another note, on May 19, the National Alliance conducted its annual Spring Strategic Board of Director meeting this year.  A good portion of that day was spent on reviewing some of the taskforce efforts by the National Alliance such as the Research Taskforce.  Data about individuals with disabilities in the game of golf has been very old and outdated.  The Taskforce is working with various organizations nationally and grassroots to collect that data.  With more than 61 million people with disabilities in our country and a total discretionary income exceeding $27 billion, there is a great possibility for growing the game.

You may have heard or may have not yet that there is a new movement in the golf industry to engage with individuals across our land to grow and diversify our sport.  Since the start of COVID, interest in golf has boomed.  The golf industry wants to invite everyone – from all backgrounds – to engage with golf in their own way, whether it is the traditional 18-hole experience, a golf range, an evening at facilities like Topgolf, in your backyard with a club and whiffle ball or just being a fan.  You may have seen already some of the promotion pieces on TV or social media.  The tagline is Make Golf Your Thing.   So, grab a friend or family member and get out and play no matter your ability or where and Make Golf Your Thing.

If you have not visited our website lately, check out the resources, search engine and other information and links there at www.accessgolf.org.  Again, if you have an accessible facility for individuals with disabilities, or have a community program serving those individuals through golf or are a golf instructor that teaches golf for individuals with disabilities, please add your information to our search engine by going to www.accessgolf.org/submit-information.

Until next time, get out and Make Golf Your Thing!

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director

From the Executive Director: A Game for All for a Lifetime

This month I wanted to take a flashback to one of my previous blogs from a few years ago.

“As 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 an assistant 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, but he was also very skilled. In fact, you did not 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, as we move into the 2021 golf season for a lot of the country or for those in the sunbelt with year-long season, do you have an accessible golf facility for individuals with disabilities? Do you run golf programs in your community serving those individuals? Or are you an instructor that works with individuals with disabilities to engage them in our sport? If so, consider going to www.accessgolf.org/submit-information and enter your information so that individuals with disabilities that are using our search engine can find accessible courses, inclusive programs, or instruction programs in their community. 

On another note, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf is in the process of updating the industry research on individuals with disabilities in the game of golf. Current data is very out of date. If you engage with these individuals through your programs, we would love to hear from you on how many are engaged and the types of disabilities involved in your programs. Send that information to info@accessgolf.org. If you have some best practices or “good news stories” that we could share with others, please send them our way.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is here to help make this a game for all. Please contact us at info@accessgolf.org to assist you in any way.

“Choose to Include,”

Steve Jubb, PGA

Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Have You Ever Considered?

Well, it is the end of March and spring is hopefully around the corner.  The last twelve months have been challenging and we are still not out of the woods. 

With that said, the golf industry has boomed over the last twelve months as a social distancing option for recreation.  With spring coming soon,  those of you who are golf course operators, golf course management companies, golf professionals, golf program coordinators or even golf associations, I am sure you have or getting ready to plan for the golf season if up north or continuing to plan in areas that are 12-month seasons.  You have looked at “how can we attract new golfers to our facilities” or “what new programs can we add to bring more people to the game”.

Have you ever considered reaching out in your community to organizations that serve individuals with disabilities, such as Special Olympics, Autism organizations, VA Medical Centers, rehabilitation facilities, or even senior citizen organizations?  These organizations may never have thought about including golf as part of their programming.  But golf has proven to be a great activity not only from a physical perspective, but also from a mental and social perspective as well.  And if you have never instructed or included people with disabilities at your facilities or programs, don’t be scared or uncertain about engaging with this population.  They are just individuals that may want to try our sport, a game for a lifetime.  After all, they just want to be included and if you are an instructor, keep in mind that you are just teaching golf as you would to anyone else.  You just need to understand the ability level of the individual, as well as person first language, just as you would with anyone coming to the lesson tee.

To help you along with this, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf has some great resources on our website (www.accessgolf.org) that can help.  Ranging from understanding ADA to People First Language, our Golf Course Owner Toolkit under the Resource tab can help.  We also have various other links that may assist. 

We also have a search engine on the website.  If you have a facility or community program or are a golf instructor open to individuals with disabilities, sign up your facility, program, or yourself as an instructor today at www.accessgolf.org/submit-information.   

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is in the process of updating the research on individuals with disabilities in the game of golf.  If you engage with these individuals through your programs, we would love to hear from you on how many are engaged and the types of disabilities involved in your programs.  Send your information to info@accessgolf.org. If you have some best practices that we could share with others, please send them our way.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is here to help make this a game for all.  Please contact us at info@accessgolf.org to assist you in any way.

“Choose to Include,”

Steve Jubb, PGA

Executive Director – National Alliance for Accessible Golf