I’m a Lucky Person

Please pardon the intro bio, albeit brief, to tee up my point. After a 22-year career in the Navy as a Naval Aviator – Helicopter Pilot and a Search and Rescue Swimmer for a few years on the front end (which, by the way, was the last time I was likely in really, really good shape…lots of running and swimming), I sought out the golf profession. There was a thought process there, but that’s the boring part of the story.

I was extremely fortunate for the majority of my post Navy career to have worked for Steve Clark, PGA and Pat McGuire with Raspberry Golf Management up in the Northern VA area, where I was exposed to all aspects of the golf operations and management business up until 2018. A highlight of that time was the opportunity to instruct Wounded Warriors under Jim Estes, PGA who along with Jamie Winslow, helped found the SMGA – the Salute Military Golf Association, a national nonprofit providing rehabilitative golf instruction and experiences for veterans and their families.

From early 2018 through 2021, Jay Karen, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association provided an opportunity for me in a range of areas including Sr. Director of Membership & Education and Editor, Golf Business Magazine and Golf Business Weekly. To say the least, these were challenging times for everyone on the planet with the pandemic. Let’s hope 2020 to the present day remains a predominantly historic conversation related to COVID’s previous global effect.

I was very much an “association novice”, and to a certain extent, I still am and I am still learning but, thankfully, Jay and his entire staff were always helpful and working towards clear goals to support the organization’s mission and the Members of the NGCOA they serve. Lots of great friends and memories remain from that experience, as does plenty of appreciation for the contributions others made towards the areas I was focused on.

OK. Bio over. I am a lucky person. Maybe “fortunate” is a better word. Regardless, the aforementioned journey has landed me somewhere I would have not predicted when transitioning from the Navy in 2005. As the Executive Director of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, I now get to contribute directly to our Alliance mission of increasing the participation of individuals with disabilities in the game of golf.

Admittedly, I kind of already believed that this work would be extremely gratifying before I was offered, or accepted the position, but it’s always nice to see positive outcomes of even modest efforts to help others when we can.

Recently, the National Alliance was able to participate with the World Golf Foundation (WGF) and numerous other associations and organizations by helping them communicate to our audience about the Phase III Grassroots Grants they were offering under the Make Golf Your Thing (MGYT) banner. $750,000 was up for grabs and programs around the country are now receiving news from the WGF that they were approved for grants.

Additionally, and during the recent PGA Championship, the WGF and American Golf Industry Coalition (AGIC – formerly We Are Golf), launched their National MGYT program directory. During the run up to launch the directory, the WGF was highly receptive of our inquiries and input regarding programs for individuals with disabilities and how the MGYT Directory could, and will, help individuals find programs that serve individuals with the range of impairments and/or disabilities as well as all types of other golf programs around the country. This effort epitomizes “inclusion”. For the opportunity to participate, we are very appreciative.

A few days ago I received a notification from a program who had reached out to us in late March for a small bit of guidance on these efforts relaying they had received a MGYT grant! Without getting into the who or how much, needless to say, the grant will be put to great use by this program as I can see the passion in what they have begun and what they have already accomplished.

What was our role in this? Why do I feel lucky? We simply helped communicate what was going on, how and where to apply, and the application deadline. No big deal, right?

Well, when I received a very cool text from the program leader who exemplifies leadership and service that they had received a very nice grant, my first thought and response was “That’s fantastic”! My next thoughts were simply satisfaction, joy and feeling very fortunate to have had the opportunity to simply communicate to someone about something that can truly help them and then seeing that come to fruition.

In our simplest form, the Alliance is here to serve as an educational resource in a range of areas, providing grants ourselves, or simply communicating, and then communicating again to those we have already helped, or those we could in the future, that there are numerous resources out there to help programs get started and move towards self-sustainability.

So “yes”, I feel pretty lucky that I and the Alliance can be even a small part of this overall effort. Can we use your help? You betcha!

Is the U.S. Adaptive Open a Major?

When it comes to an action packed golf week, this week may set a new standard of positive activity.  

The PGA Championship is in full swing at Southern Hills in Tulsa, OK, the field is set for the first U.S. Adaptive Open to be held at Pinehurst #6, July 18-20, 2022, and the Make Golf Your Thing Directory has officially launched.

Wow!  How can you not love golf!  If the U.S. Adaptive Open is not a Major in the world of golfers with disabilities, please feel free to let me know what the standard is!  What a great event it is going to be and hats off to the USGA for creating this event.  96 players from around the world ranging in age from 15-80 will compete across eight impairment categories:

  • Arm Impairment
  • Intellectual Impairment
  • Leg Impairment
  • Multiple Limb Amputee
  • Neurological Impairment
  • Seated Players
  • Short Stature
  • Vision Impairment 

Take a look at the field here HERE. It’s likely you will recognize some names but even better are some of the stories…and there are so many more beyond those that have qualified for the U.S. Adaptive Open. All around the country on a daily basis golf professionals, therapists, volunteers and more dedicate themselves to supporting access and inclusion for golfers with disabilities. The National Alliance prides itself on serving as a resource across a range of areas in this space, including the ADA – Americans With Disabilities Act, course and facility design, assistive devices to help golfers play, and coaching individuals with disabilities.  We’re easy to find at www.accessgolf.org and it makes our day if we can help in any way.

Also this week, the much anticipated Make Golf Your Thing Directory has launched at www.makegolfyourthing.org. Simply put in a zip code to search an area and you can refine your search from there for specific program types.  Having just launched, many programs are still completing their registration, but if you have a program that is helping golfers play the game, I’d recommend you get on board with Make Golf Your Thing and get registered.  Whomever your program is for, veteran or not, young or old, disabled or not, let’s make it easy for anyone looking to learn to play the game.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf has been fortunate and appreciative to have been included with the WGF and AGIC Make Golf Your Thing Directory outreach effort and well, “inclusion” is what we are all about.  I can’t wait to see how the Directory can help grow the game for golfers of all abilities.  

“Go Tiger? Jon? Jordan? Justin?” Sure.

But, how about, “Go, Amy, Dennis, Chad, and all of the other competitors at the U.S. Adaptive Open.” I can’t wait to see it.  

Let’s Influence Beyond Inclusion

As I publish this note for April 2022, program registration has opened for the much anticipated Make Golf Your Thing Directory HERE and MGYT is also receiving grant applications as we speak. Click HERE to apply for a grant, but ensure you review the Eligibility and Guidelines.  The clock is ticking for grassroots programs to apply for Phase III funding to be distributed in the early summer.  

Please note, per MGYT, “The American Development Model is a movement in sport to increase participation by delivering the right experience at the right stage of one’s sport journey. With the right experience, retention in our sport is more likely and our sport grows…If you would like to be included or have your program included in the ADM program directory – as a first step – a coach or candidate program must showcase a commitment to operating programs and services in alignment with the Principles of ADM.

The World Golf Foundation and American Golf Industry Coalition (formerly We Are Golf) have created a registration process that will require programs to be very clear in their program description with “keywords” that will facilitate better search engine results when individuals are seeking programs of interest.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf recommends all programs offering inclusive opportunities for individuals to learn and participate in golf to register and use the following descriptors for your specific program.  

First, we recommend you use the words “disability and/or disabilities” in program descriptions and additionally use “impairment” as an added qualifier as applicable. 

Second, we suggest that you specifically describe/categorize your program with one, two, or all of the following (verbatim) as this will help lend to ease of search for individuals with disabilities and better identification of the types of programs that are available.  

  1. Physical Disability and/or Mobility Impairment, 
  2. Developmental/Cognitive Disability and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder, and 
  3. Vision and/or Hearing Impairment  

The MGYT Directory is a truly inclusive effort and the opportunity to register programs serving new and existing golfers with disabilities is definitely something those of you offering these types of programs should do! Given that approximately 14 million individuals with disabilities are interested in golf, 6 million report they had played in the past but no longer do, and more than 600,000 golfers with disabilities are currently engaged in golf (Source: NGF, 2018), it is safe to say the disabled golf community is positioned to influence the game of golf, not just be included.  

That begins with telling everyone where you are and who you serve.

Dave Barton, PGA – Executive Director

From the Executive Director – Spring is Here!

As the winds from the Player’s Championship die down, and the azaleas are about to be popping in Augusta, spring brings the new golf season upon us (for those that endure winter), and ushers in new opportunities to increase participation in the game of golf, aka “grow the game”. So what’s hot?

The Alliance has been working with the American Golf Industry Coalition (AGIC), a division of the World Golf Foundation (WGF), to ensure programs that offer inclusive golf opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and the golfers who can benefit from these programs are part of the national Make Golf Your Thing (MGYT) initiative. As the MGYT website states, “Make Golf Your Thing is a collaborative effort across the golf industry to ensure the future of golf is open to everyone. This multi-faceted, multi-year campaign will work to invite more people to the sport from all backgrounds to enjoy the game of a lifetime – their way.” The WGF and AGIC have simply been incredible with the Alliance in recognizing and understanding the contributions of the segment of programs and golfers we serve. Thank you.

In the very near future, MGYT will launch a comprehensive directory of player development programs, playing opportunities and coaches to enable individuals to access opportunities most aligned with their location, skill level, disability, age and gender.  The directory will be launched through the MGYT website and the Alliance strongly encourages disability inclusive programs and coaches to register as soon as the opportunity presents itself. 

Additionally, as the MGYT March Newsletter reports, they are launching Phase III of their Grassroots Grants Program and will award $750,000 in grants “.. to support groups dedicated to increasing participation among underrepresented populations in the sport.” The Alliance recommends you review program eligibility requirements from the MGYT newsletter and consider applying should your program meet the established criteria, as the application process will begin around April 1, 2022.

As to “big events” coming up, the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games will be held in Orlando, FL, June 5-12, 2022 with golf being played at the Orange County National Golf Center. The USGA will be conducting their inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open Championship July 18-20 at Pinehurst, NC, #6.

As I close my first note on behalf of the Alliance, a thank you to former Executive Director, Steve Jubb, PGA/LM. His efforts over the past seven years to position the Alliance as the industry leader in the inclusion of golfers with disabilities in the game of golf are beyond noteworthy, recently being recognized as the 2022 Champion Award recipient by the National Golf Course Owners Association. Steve, congratulations on a great run with the Alliance and a personal thanks for bringing me up to speed so that I may continue the initiatives you have established to advance our mission and contributions to the game.

It takes a village … and golf has a lot of villages doing some amazing things these days.

Dave Barton, PGA – Executive Director

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