Are You an Includer?

Recently, a YouTube video came across my LinkedIn feed of a keynote speech being delivered at the July 2022 Show Up for Teachers Conference in Utah by Tim Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics since 1996. Due to generous support from the USGA and the range of golf industry supporters, we have been fortunate to support several Special Olympics grassroots programs and national events in 2022.

Mr. Shriver was delivering the keynote to educators as part of Utah First Lady Abby Fox’s “Show Up” initiative.  As First Lady Fox relays on “Show Up is a rallying cry. Through this initiative, we encourage Utahns everywhere to reach out wherever they are and however they can to lift others, serve, show support and be willing to learn about and appreciate different points of view. We Show Up with empathy and understanding instead of prejudice and animosity. We Show Up with open hearts and willing minds.”

You may view the video HERE.

Show Up focuses on four key areas including, mental wellness and life skills, partnering with local foster care organizations, expansion of the Special Olympics Unified Sports program, and partnering with local businesses, organizations, and communities to do service throughout the state.

Here are the cliff notes and I encourage you to watch the video.

Mr. Shriver emphasizes and expands upon what First Lady Fox suggested is “THE question” to ask yourself when you walk into a room of students, or into the gym, lunchroom, or a birthday party. Let’s take that a step further to the golf course, the driving range, at a club event, or at a golf tournament.

The question?

Who’s missing?

If that is a question you ask when walking around your golf course, then you have what Mr. Shriver refers to as an “inclusive mindset” and you are very likely above the curve in that area compared to your peers. Keep on keeping on!

I can honestly say during my time operating golf courses, I failed at this more than I succeeded. I might not have known I was failing at the time, but I know now, and it is never too late to start. It is definitely never too early to start!

Sure, I did some positive things operationally, ran some solid junior programs back in the day, have done and still do some teaching with golfers with disabilities. But, did I ever make a more dedicated and broader effort to seek and develop an inclusive environment at clubs where I wielded a modest level of influence? Did I do as well as I could as a property leader to set an example that an inclusive environment and culture can build and thrive upon? I don’t need my reading glasses to look back and think, I could have done better.

So, here is my challenge to you.

Look forward while you have the chance to influence.

Creating access is all about the “physical.” Can an individual with a disability get from point A to B, to C or to D and beyond with ease and without hindrance; in the buildings and on the golf course.

Creating inclusive environments is “social.” Do you provide a welcoming environment? Do you seek to “invite” individuals with disabilities to participate?

I think my days of working at a golf course on a daily basis may be behind me, but the Alliance and the amazing organizations around the country delivering programs for golfers with disabilities are here and ready to help you and your facility create and develop “includers.”

As Mr. Shriver has said in the past, “Choose to Include.”

Quite bluntly, is there really another option to consider?

Dave Barton, PGA – Executive Director

About National Alliance for Accessible Golf
Dave Barton, PGA is the Executive Director for the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is a coalition of recreational, therapeutic, and golf organizations committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities through the game of golf.

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