Executive Director: Sharing Our Message

Hope everyone is having a great start to 2017.  Back in January, the Alliance was at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.  Aside from several on-on-one meetings with various organizations and individuals in the golf industry to discuss Inclusion in the game of individuals with dis/Abilities.  The biggest event was hosting a gathering of more than 25 organizations and/or individuals who are focused on Inclusion at the grassroots level.  Each shared what their programs do to make a positive impact on lives along with sharing best practices with others in the room.  On the Saturday following the PGA Show, I was invited to share information about accessibility and working with individuals with dis/Abilities with Golf Professionals students of the Golf Academy of America (GAA) Orlando, and others.  David Windsor of Georgia State Golf Association Adaptive Golf and Adaptive Golf Association led the hands-on training in the learning center area of the campus.

In February, the Alliance attended the National Golf Course Owners Association’s Annual Business of Golf Conference along with the Golf Industry Show.  Like the meetings at the PGA Show, the Alliance shared information with courses owners, superintendents and others about why the game of golf should be for everyone.

As we have mentioned before, if you have a grassroots program that develops individuals with dis/Abilities into the game of golf, check out our website at www.accessgolf.org for resources as well as an application for the USGA/Alliance Grant Program.  With the start this Spring of many programs around the country, consider applying for a grant.  You will find grant information under “Program Funding” tab.  Through programs that have received grants and through local, regional and national organizations, we have seen that golf can make a positive difference in the lives of those with dis/Abilities.  So, when you look at programming to grow the game of golf, consider reaching out to local rehab facilities, hospitals and non-profit/service organizations that work with these individuals.  They may have never thought about using golf in their programs.

As we continue our journey into 2017, let’s all strive to ensure that the game of golf is truly “Inclusive.”

Steve Jubb, PGA

Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!!

As we start the New Year, I wanted share with you some exciting news.  On January 25th at 2:30 p.m. in Room 221B during the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf will be hosting a 2-hour session with various organizations from around the country that use golf to serve individual with dis/Abilities.  This session will focus on sharing best practices from the programs in attendance and sharing with those organizations how the Alliance can help.  The session will also provide great input on how we all can make a positive difference in the lives of those with dis/Abilities through the game of golf.  If you are attending the PGA Merchandise Show and conduct such a program or have a local, regional or national organization with that mission, please RSVP me at Steve@accessgolf.org.

In February, also in Orlando, the Alliance will be attending the National Golf Course Owners Association’s Annual Business of Golf Conference along with the Golf Industry Show.  Dates are the week of February 5th.  We will also be scheduling meetings during that week so let us know if you are going to be there.

During our Board of Director’s monthly conference call in December, we had Alliance Board member Dana Dempsey, of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, present their “Learn to Golf” program.  What a great program and the Alliance has been pleased to be able to help through our USGA/Alliance Grant Program.  Check out these links for more information about the TSRHC “Learn to Golf” program:

http://www.tsrhc.org/Learn-to-Golf
http://eyeopenertv.com/2016/11/11/teenage-amputee-doesnt-slow-down-for-anything/

As we have mentioned before, if you have a grassroots program that develops individuals with dis/Abilities into the game of golf, check out our website at www.accessgolf.org for resources as well as an application for the USGA/Alliance Grant Program.  You will find grant information under “Program Funding” tab.  Through programs that have received grants and through local, regional and national organizations, we have seen that golf can make a positive difference in the lives of those with dis/Abilities.  So, when you look at programming to grow the game of golf, consider reaching out to local rehab facilities, hospitals and non-profit/service organizations that work with these individuals.  They may have never thought about using golf in their programs.

So, Happy New Year and let’s all strive in this new year to ensure that the game of golf is truly “Inclusive.”

Steve Jubb, PGA – Executive Director

Profile: Scottish Rite Hospital Patient Gives Back and Has Eyes on College Golf

Special to the Alliance and Photo Courtesy of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children

When Lauren was two years old, she came to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, where she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Scottish Rite Hospital treated her medical condition, but also recognized it was important that Lauren flourish in all areas. When Lauren was seven, she had a chance to participate in the hospital’s Learn to Golf program. During this program, participants have the opportunity to learn not only the skills and basics of golf but also important life lessons.

2016-lauren-campagna-ntpga-tourn-champ-pic When patients participate, they have a chance to play golf regardless of any medical conditions they may have. The program provides an environment where self-confidence, patience, perseverance and many other skills can grow. When Lauren went to her first clinic, she was introduced to the game and received a set of U.S. Kids golf clubs, along with a scholarship to help her continue playing. Lauren began using the scholarship money provided through the program to take lessons. With these tools, Lauren’s skills and love for golf grew quickly. She has been playing golf ever since, eventually joining the LPGA*USGA Girls Golf program and playing in U.S. Kids Golf tournaments.

 

In addition to great exercise and physical conditioning, golf has really helped Lauren build confidence, leadership skills and self-discipline. She is truly dedicated to the game. Lauren enjoys being with other girls who play golf and it has helped her become a leader among her peers.

 

“She has made relationships and connections through golf that would have otherwise not been possible,” said Kammie Campagna, Lauren’s mother.

Lauren has been successful on and off the course. She now volunteers her time and talents at Learn to Golf clinics, working with younger children who like herself have a medical condition that sometimes interferes with their ability to enjoy recreation and leisure activities. In addition to volunteering with the Learn to Golf program, she once led a Girl Scouts blanket drive benefiting patients of the hospital and is on the junior committee for the hospital’s KidSwing golf tournaments. In addition, Lauren is involved in school programs such as the math honor society Mu Alpha Theta, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Sports Leadership Club.

Lauren has played in tournaments through the Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf Foundation and Texas Junior Golf Tour (TJGT). This past June, she won the NTPGA All American Tour’s Shootout in the Hills at Las Colinas Country Club. She is currently a high school senior and holds the number one spot on the varsity golf team at Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas. Lauren loves the game and hopes to play golf in college.

Lauren is an impressive young lady. She works hard on the course as well as in the classroom. Lauren is humble, has a wonderful positive attitude, and is passionate about helping others. Her impressive character work ethic and discipline will help her continue to succeed in golf, whether that be in golf or anything else she decides she would like to do.

From the Executive Director: Inclusive and Available to Everyone

The Alliance was privileged spend a day on November 8th with the students at the College of Golf at Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Joining me were Donna White, PGA/LPGA Professional from West Palm Beach and adjunct faculty member at Keiser University.  Also, joining us was Judy Alvarez, PGA/LPGA Professional, Alliance Advisory Board member and National Trainer for PGA HOPE with the PGA of America.  The topic was Engaging Individuals with dis/Abilities in golf.  About 30 Keiser students participated in the session.  We were also privileged to have a Special Olympics Athlete, Veterans with dis/Abilities and a student of Judy Alvarez join us as students for the college students to get some hands-on training on instructing individuals with dis/Abilities in golf.  Keiser University has a great golf training lab that helped facilitate this session.  Big thanks go out to Dr. Eric Wilson and staff at Keiser’s College of Golf, along with Donna and Judy for their involvement.

As we shared with the Keiser students, golf should be inclusive and available to everyone.

Do you have or know of a program or golf facility that is involving individual with dis/Abilities in the game of golf?  Consider having them join our Accessible Golf search engine on our website – www.accessgolf.org.  Every week we get inquiries from individuals looking for programs or facilities around the country.  Recently we had an inquiry from the Northern California area and we connected them to a program near their community and they brought several others along to the program.  So, add your program today.

Coming up in January, the Alliance will be at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando the week of January 25 to 27.  This year we will not be exhibiting but will be scheduling various meetings during the 3 days of the show.  If you are attending the show and would like to meet with us, please reach out via e-mail to Steve@accessgolf.org.

In February, also in Orlando, the Alliance will be attending the National Golf Course Owners Association’s Annual Business of Golf Conference along with the Golf Industry Show.  Dates for both are the week of February 5th.  We will also be scheduling meetings during the week so let us know if you are going to be there.

As we approach the end of the year and especially as we each look towards filing our tax returns for 2016, we ask that you consider supporting the National Alliance for Accessible Golf.   Consider making a year-end donation to the 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 Alliance.

From the Executive Director: The Giving Month

Wow.  Another year has almost gone by.  Hope you all have had a great year, especially those who are engaged in ensuring that the game of golf is inclusive for everyone especially those with disabilities.  Golf is a game that can be played by everyone.  Some putt on the putting green, some hit shots on the range, some play a couple of holes and some play 9 or 18 holes.  But we all play GOLF!

The United States Golf Association has partnered with the National Alliance for Accessible Golf to help fund grassroots programs that are developing individuals with disabilities into the game of golf through inclusionary programming.  Did you know that funds are available right now for such programming?  Since the inception of the USGA/Alliance partnership, grants totaling more than $750,000 have been awarded.  Check out our website at www.accessgolf.org under “Program Funding” for a list of programs that have been supported as well as the grant criteria and application.  If you are doing grassroots programming that meets the criteria, don’t pass up this funding opportunity.

As we approach the end of the year and especially as we each look towards filing our tax returns for 2016, we ask that you consider supporting the National Alliance for Accessible Golf.  On November 29th, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, “Giving Tuesday” is being held to have individuals donate to various non-profits/charities to support those organizations.  While we do get 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.  So consider making a year-end donation to the Alliance by going to our website (www.accessgolf.org) and clicking on the “DONATE” button on the upper right corner of the homepage.  You will also find us on the “Giving Tuesday” website – www.givingtuesday.org.  Thank you in advance for considering to support the Alliance.

Finally, the Alliance is privileged to be spending a day on November 8th with the students at the College of Golf at Keiser University in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Joining me will be Donna White, PGA/LPGA Professional from West Palm Beach and adjunct faculty member at Keiser University.  Also, joining us as part of the team will be Judy Alvarez, PGA/LPGA Professional, Alliance Advisory Board member and National Trainer for PGA HOPE with the PGA of America.  Topic will be Engaging Individuals with dis/Abilities in Golf.  Look for my December Blog for more details on the day of instruction at Keiser.

Everyone have a safe and grateful Thanksgiving.  See you next month!

Steve Jubb, PGA – Executive Director

National Alliance for Accessible Golf

Dennis Walters: My Journey With the Game

Special to the Alliance, Dennis Walters

Photos courtesy of the USGA

When I was eight years old, I fell head over heels in love with the game of golf. This love, which encompassed every fiber of my being from the beginning, continues to fascinate me 58 years later.

I always wanted to see how good I could get at golf and spent all my time doing so. My big dream was to play successfully on the PGA TOUR and I was well on my way as I won three state championships in New Jersey and finished tied for 11th in the 1971 U.S. Amateur. I played college golf at The University of North Texas and competed against many of those who would become some of the best players in the history of the game.

courtesy-of-usgaIn 1974 when I was 24 years old, I was riding in a golf cart going down a steep hill. I wasn’t going fast and honestly don’t what happened, but I was thrown from the cart and dislocated a vertebrae which pinched my spinal cord rendering me a T-12 paraplegic. I have no movement or feeling below the waist. Everyone, including me, thought my golf days were over. The one thing I dearly loved to do so much was taken away from me.

Or was it?

I desperately wanted to play the game again but wondered, “how on earth would I ever be able to do this?” I had no blueprint or guidelines to follow. With the help of my family and a few close friends, I set out on an incredible journey trying to find answers to questions that had never before been asked. I started by hitting golf balls from my wheelchair, then helped invent a swivel seat on the passenger side of a golf cart. This was the breakthrough I needed to get back on the golf course. I wanted to see how good I could get at golf for the second time, this time playing sitting down. I still wanted to fulfill my dream of becoming a professional golfer.

Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. But in losing that dream, I found another one when I developed a golf show called “Golf Lessons and Life Lessons,” which are clinics and trick shot exhibitions. In 39 years, I have spoken to more than 3,000 audiences around the country, telling my story and demonstrating with each shot I hit what is possible if you are willing to work hard and persevere. And most importantly, it shows that golf can truly be a game for all. I encourage all who attend my shows to reach for their dreams, strive for excellence and to do something in their life that they thought was impossible.

In order to convince a disabled person that golf can be a part of their life, you have to first show them that it is even possible. It is also important to highlight the benefits the game has to offer. Just being in the fresh air and sunshine, spending time with your friends and making new friends, and enjoying the challenge is more than ample reason to give golf a try. It’s also something disabled persons can do with able-bodied family and friends.

But how do we share this story with the thousands of disabled persons who have yet to experience the thrill and joy of the game? By creating a campaign that shows people with various disabilities how others in similar situations are able to participate, and developing teaching techniques for the various disabilities. We should also emphasize the importance of a variety of golf experiences. It does not have to be 18 holes to be considered playing golf. Putting, chipping or hitting balls on the range, or even just playing a few holes is all part of the golf experience.

At each of my shows, I always stress the important of perseverance. If for some reason your dream doesn’t work out, get a new dream! Golf has given me dreams I never could have imagined. I believe if we all find ways to share the message of what is possible with others, we could inspire so many people to reach for their dreams.

 

Photos courtesy of the USGA.

From the Executive Director: A Busy September

I hope everyone is okay on the east coast after Hurricane Matthew passed by.  A lot of damage up and down the east coast especially from North Florida through Carolinas.  And while we are mentioning the hurricane, say some prayers for the people of Haiti.  If you can make a donation for the relief efforts especially there, reach out to the various non-profits helping out such as Save the Children, Samaritan’s Purse, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, and UNICEF, to mention a few.

In our September Blog, wsymposim-panele mentioned about the upcoming Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium that was held on September 20-21, hosted by the NCAA in Indianapolis.  I had the honor of moderating a breakout session on Individuals with dis/Ability in Sports.  It was a great discussion and hopefully becomes a major discussion in future Symposiums.  This year’s Symposium was attended by representative of the various sports organizations such as the NBA, MLB, IOC, Paralympics, PGA of America, USGA, PGA TOUR, along with other organizations and interested individuals.

Also on September 30, October 1-2, I had the privilege to be head rules official for the Special Olympics North America National Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, FL.  More than 185 Special Olympics Athletes and Unified Partners participated accompanied by coaches and families.  I have been involved with Special Olympics since 1986 and every year I feel so blessed to participate and meet Special Olympics Athletes and everyone involved.  I have always said that all golfers should have the attitude about the game that Special Olympics Athletes have.  If they miss a shot, they don’t fret about it.  They just move on to the next shot.  Ability levels vary from Scott Rohrer from South Carolina who shoots in the 70s for 18 holes to Level 1 Athletes that are involved in a golf skills competition.  But the best part is the hugs and high fives you get from the Athletes on a shot or score.  Truly a great time was had by all.

As we approach the end of the year and especially as we each look towards filing our tax returns for 2016, we ask that you consider supporting the National Alliance for Accessible Golf.  While we do get 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.  So consider making a year-end donation to the 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 Alliance.

See you next month!

Steve Jubb, PGA – Executive Director

 

From the Executive Director: Dis/Ability

I have a question for you.  Do you run a golf instructional program at your facility or in your community?  Take a look at the demographics of the students you teach.  Most likely they are women and men, old and/or young.  They are all individuals with different ability levels.  As such, you probably modify how you deliver the instruction somewhat based on their ability.

Well, have you ever thought about including individuals with dis/Ability?  Have you ever thought about reaching out to the local chapter of Special Olympics, a local rehab facility, or non-profits in your community that serve individuals with dis/Ability?  These groups may have never considered golf as part of their program.  But what we have found out is that a recreation sport such as golf can change lives, just as you have seen on the lesson tee with Mrs. Jones or Mr. Smith that you have instructed and either introduced them to the game or improved their skills.  We have seen it in Special Olympics, programs such as PGA HOPE serving our Veterans, and even the very young in programs such as GOALS which is part of Little Linksters in the Central Florida area.  Our sport (Golf) can make a difference in the lives we touch by engaging them in the sport.

If you have a program serving individuals with dis/Ability, or are thinking about starting a program, or are an individual looking for more information or a program near you, check out the Alliance website at www.accessgolf.org.  There on the homepage you will find various links to resources, best practices, videos, and even grant funding to help start or continue an “inclusive” golf program.  Also we have a search engine on our website that allows someone looking for a facility, instruction and program, to connect with a program near them to start in the game or rekindle their love for the game.  If you have a program or do adaptive instruction, we would love to include your program in the search.  If you have a program or adaptive instruction, make sure you go to the homepage and halfway down that page you will find both the search function link but also a link to enter your program information.

In our October Blog, we will be talking about the upcoming Sports Diversity & Inclusion Symposium being held on September 20-21, hosted by the NCAA.  I have the honor of moderating a panel discussion on Individuals with dis/Ability in Sports.  Also on September 30, October 1-2, Special Olympics North America will conduct their National Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, FL and the Alliance will be there as well.

So, see you next month!

Steve Jubb, PGA – Executive Director

Profile: Josh Geer & the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Challenge Golf

Special to the Alliance, Lisa Geer

Josh Geer is now 15 years old and golfing on his high school golf team. Josh was born early and has Cerebral Palsy  The cerebral palsy only affects his leg muscles and made his core muscle strength weak. He has had physical therapy all his life and has had one surgery on his legs. Golf has played an important role in his therapy.

The game of golf has increased the strength in his arms, hands, and body core. It has helped Josh shift his weight and increase mobility.

The Challenge Golf program and Ron Tristano have played an important role in Josh’s therapy and his ability to play the game so well. Ron started coaching Josh in 2007 and continues today. Josh participated in the Challenge Golf camps, the Advanced Golfer’s program, and Saturday golf sessions. Ron worked with Josh to overcome his disability and to play the game well. The program and Ron have given Josh a sport he can play competitively, given him the confidence in playing it, and teaching him the etiquette and respect of the game.

Today, Josh is a Freshman in high school and on the JV Golf team. He has played on two varsity matches and came in 4th as a freshman on the last golf match. Josh does have an allowance to use a golf cart but so far has walked all matches. The Challenge Golf Program has given Josh a sport he can play and love. The Program and Ron are reasons why our son has done so well.

Ron Tristano shared “I have had the pleasure of working with Joshua Geer since 2007.   My initial instruction focused on what Josh was able to do not what he could not do. We started with short swings using little lower body movement concentrating on balance and making contact.  Josh showed great courage and determination especially during those early years when he had to have surgery and a significant amount of therapy. He worked hard to learn the game and began participating in our junior golf camps and then in our advanced junior golf where Josh walked nine holes by his choice with the other able bodied youngsters . Now a Freshmen in High School Josh has achieved his goal of making the school golf team. I admire Josh and am proud to be his golf teacher and friend.”

From the Executive Director: All Things Are Possible

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.

On July 26th was the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Signed into law in 1990 by President George H. Bush, ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities.  As we celebrate 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.  On our website under Resources you will find useful toolkits for owners and operators as well as those interested in getting started with golf and links to other resources that will help make this game inclusive.

Recently, referred to us by Alliance Board member Ron Tristano, we made contact with a young lady named Anna Earl and her father Michael from Parkersburg, WV.  As her father explained, in 2005 his wife and he were blessed with a daughter, Anna Earl.  Anna spent the first 6 weeks of her life in NICU.  At 8 months, Anna was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and since 6 years old, Anna has been playing golf.

This 11 year-old just qualified for the sub-regionals of the Drive, Chip and Putt event.  Anna also plays golf on the US Kids Golf tour.

Back in the Spring of 2016, we had an initial contact with them when Anna was refused use of a golf car during the US Kids Golf events in West Virginia and Ohio.  After we contacted US Kids, a nationwide policy was issued to all of their tournament coordinators to allow youth with disabilities to use a golf car if needed.

My conversation with Anna was truly amazing.  This young lady is grown up in her outlook on life.  Her closing comments to me was that she wants everyone with a disability to know that “all things are possible” especially in golf.

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!

Steve Jubb, PGA, Executive Director