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

From the Executive Director: Attitude is a Powerful Thing

January and February thus far have been busy months with the Virtual 2021 PGA Merchandise Show and Education Conference along with the Virtual 2021 Golf Industry Show and Education Conference.  The National Alliance for Accessible Golf had the opportunity during both Shows to share about why the game of golf should be open to everyone including individuals with disabilities.

During the Golf Industry Show in particular, Jan Bel Jan, Past President of the America Society of Golf Course Architects and owner of Jan Bel Jan Golf Course Design and I presented a session on “Making Your Facility Welcoming, Accessible and Inclusive.” 

According to the CDC, there are more than 61 million individuals with disabilities in the United States (1 in 4).  If we as the game and business of golf just welcomed 1% of that population to the game or to return to the game, we could see an uptick of over 600,000 new or returning golfers.  Just think if we reached out to 5% of that population, we could see over 3 million join us in this game of a lifetime.  But that requires that we, as a sport and industry, actually welcome them to golf. 

First and foremost, attitude is a powerful tool. 

Individuals with disabilities are simply people that want to be an integral part of the fabric of society and possibly the game of golf.  Welcome them as you would any other person coming to your facility.  Make sure your facility is ADA compliant.  That doesn’t mean you have to invest in a multi-million-dollar capital improvement project.  Simple modifications can be easily made to allow accessibility.  Check out our toolkit and other resources at www.accessgolf.org/resources

If you have an accessible and welcoming facility or program, or you instruct individuals with disabilities, consider adding your information to our search engine so that individuals with disabilities can find your facility or program and contact you.  Go to www.accessgolf.org/submit-a-new-facility/

So, in conclusion, remember that golf is one of a few sports that can easily accommodate individuals with disabilities.  But that will only happen if you choose to be accessible, welcoming and inclusive.  So today, let us all “Choose to Include”.

See you next month.

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM, Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Be Inviting!

Welcome to 2021. Let’s pray that it is better than 2020. This past year has been challenging times but looking forward to a better year ahead and beyond.

Golf has been a great outlet for those who play, especially those with disabilities. The game gets them outdoors in a sport that can easily create a social distancing environment but also one where we can enjoy the health benefits of the outdoors while playing with family and friends.

If you operate a facility, welcoming individuals with disabilities to enjoy all that golf offers can have a positive impact for your business. The other day I was reading an article about research conducted by the American Institutes of Research where it found that individuals with disabilities have a discretionary income of more than $21 billion. Discretionary income means income after paying for life’s essentials such as housing, food, utilities, and, yes, taxes.

Individuals with disabilities are customers. So, let’s all welcome them to our sport. Reach out into your community to organizations that serve this segment of the population and invite them to come and enjoy the benefits this game has to offer. Create instructional programs for them. The organizations, rehab facilities, and hospitals may have not thought of using golf in their recreational therapy programs. The key word here is Invite. Don’t sit back and wait for them to come to you. Reach out and by doing so, you create new customers.

If you have a facility, community program, or instruct individuals with disabilities, consider listing it through our website, www.accessgolf.org/submit-a-new-facility. Our search engine enables individuals with disabilities to locate accessible facilities, programs, and instruction.  Add your facility/program/instruction today.

Finally, I would like to thank our Board of Directors, Advisory Board, and everyone that ensures that golf is for everyone including individuals with disabilities. Thank you!

See you next month,

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director

The City of North Charleston’s Golf Club at Wescott Plantation Has Become the Model for All Municipal Golf Courses

By Rich O’Brien, Alliance Board Member and Operations Manager for PGA HOPE Program, Charleston, SC

The South Carolina Lowcountry has become one of the models of what a community can do when it wraps its arms around Veterans and others with injuries, illnesses, or challenges. A big part of that has been the PGA HOPE Charleston program which has become the largest PGA HOPE chapter and model program for the PGA of America’s flagship military outreach. HOPE stands for Helping Our Patriots Everywhere and, in Charleston, conditions were ripe for developing something really special with three military bases (Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard), the second-largest VA in the Southeast, and a large, retired Veteran population. 

Josh teeing off at Wescott
Josh teeing off at Wescott.

Back in early 2015, when PGA REACH asked Fred Gutierrez and I to champion a PGA HOPE chapter here in Charleston, our first recruit was Perry Green, the Director of Instruction at the Golf Club at Wescott Plantation. We could not have picked a better partner and we are so grateful that he volunteered to host the clinics starting in the summer of 2015. 

The Golf Club at Wescott Plantation is a municipal golf course owned by the City of North Charleston that is managed by Classic Golf Management. Within a few days of being asked, Perry had enlisted the help of Milton Abell, of Classic Golf Management, and Keith Sumney, the Mayor of the city of North Charleston for this critical mission.

The PGA HOPE program has been near and dear to Perry’s heart as his son is a medically retired Army Veteran who served as a combat medic and, like many combat Veterans, battles the nightmares and flashbacks associated with post-traumatic stress. Although his son lives in Colorado, PGA HOPE is a way for Perry to help Veterans like his son. 

Green was honored by the Carolinas PGA section as their 2019 Patriot Award winner and PGA HOPE is his way of serving the Veterans that have sacrificed so much for this country. He adds, “PGA HOPE has become my favorite initiative as a PGA Professional. After a long week, I typically am running out of gas by Friday but I always look forward to being around the Veterans because it fully recharges my batteries.”

When PGA HOPE Charleston first started in Charleston there were only a handful of active chapters nationwide. The PGA HOPE team at Wescott quickly developed the model and began expanding throughout the Charleston area. Now there are five host sites located throughout the Charleston-North Charleston Metropolitan area. The program is proud that it has never turned away a Veteran that wanted to participate. This spring, Wescott will be adding a Thursday clinic in order to accommodate 50 more Veterans. Perry Green’s heart for the Veterans and the fun atmosphere he encourages is a big part of the success of the program. 

The Wescott Group
The Wescott Group

Green feels that “PGA HOPE is one of those programs that you make time for, as its effects are felt far beyond the game of golf for the participants, as well as you and your facility. The Veterans, many of them afflicted with PTSD or life-altering injuries, enjoy the fresh air and camaraderie of their fellow Veterans who can relate to how they think and feel. It is a diversion of the mind for many of them. Some of these individuals once considered suicide – now they consider how to get an extra nine holes of golf in. There should always be time to help them.”

Hosting the program also provides other benefits for host clubs not the least of which is that many of the Veterans in the program are either new to the game or were lapsed players before finding HOPE. And many of these players have now become avid golfers playing on a weekly basis with their fellow Veterans and others which generates additional revenue for the club. Facilitating a PGA HOPE program also provides positive public relations for the club and brings awareness to the community.  PGA Professionals should keep an open mind in considering implementing a PGA HOPE program at their facility.”

Mayor Keith Sumney of North Charleston added, “Like many others in the industry, we aim to maintain a beautiful, challenging, and fun golf course, however, the facilities and programs promoting accessible golf, spearheaded by our Director of Instruction, Perry Green, take the Golf Club at Wescott Plantation to an elevated level. Everyone in the community is welcomed at Wescott, no matter ability or need. The paragolfer carts, provided by Hardee’s, in conjunction with the Stand Up and Play Foundation, continue to be a bright spot at the course and have unquestionably introduced the game to many in North Charleston and beyond.  Furthermore, the careful instruction, care, and compassion offered to all interested in golf continues to proudly be the highest goal of all the staff at Wescott.”

Perry Green added, “I am grateful that the city is concerned about quality-of-life issues and that city leaders had the foresight to know that PGA HOPE would become a huge national program. They have repeatedly encouraged us to do more.”

As you can see, by providing HOPE, the City of North Charleston’s Golf Club at Wescott Plantation has become the model for all municipal golf courses for what they can do to help Veterans and others in their community that have injuries, illnesses, or challenges.  

From the Executive Director: Ending the Year with Thank You!

I love the change of the seasons. In November, the leaves had turned to bright colors around the country, and now we have snow. Wishing each of our readers and supporters a merry and bright Holiday season.

Coming off December 1st which was “Giving Tuesday”, I wanted to end this year with a big thank you to all the organizations and individuals that have supported the work of the National Alliance in 2020. If you missed Giving Tuesday, it is not too late to support the efforts of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf.  Go to www.accessgolf.org/donate.  Your support will help us achieve our mission of ensuring that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to experience the game of golf and the health and wellness benefits that help enhance their inclusion in the community and society.

As you may or may not be aware, the National Alliance was formed back in 2001 and is represented by the major golf associations, recreation and therapeutic organizations and individuals who advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities into the game and society.

Back in 2015, we launched our facility/program/instruction search engine on our website (www.accessgolf.org) where an individual can locate a facility or program that has adaptive instruction and accessible golf.  We continue to see a lot of clicks on the search engine as well as additional facilities/programs/instructors coming online.  If you run a facility, program or are a golf instructor that serves individuals with disabilities, go to our https://www.accessgolf.org/submit-a-new-facility/.

All in all, 2020 has been a challenging year.  We are definitely looking towards 2021 and how the National Alliance can expand its reach and mission to increase the participation of people with disabilities in the game of golf.  Keep an eye on our website at www.accessgolf.org for upcoming education opportunities for facilities, programs, and instructors.

See you in 2021 with another series of Blogs. 

Steve Jubb, PGA – Executive Director

National Alliance for Accessible Golf

From the Executive Director: A Friend of Brad

I have a passion for seeing that individuals with disabilities are included in the game of golf as well as the fabric of our communities.  That’s why working for the National Alliance for Accessible Golf is so rewarding for me along with my previous employment at the PGA of America and their foundation, PGA REACH, ensuring that the game of golf is for everyone.

My passion began back in the 1980s when as Executive Director of the New Jersey Section of the PGA of America, I was asked along with a good friend of mine and PGA Professional Wayne Warms to conduct a clinic at the State Games of Special Olympics New Jersey that fostered the passion which continues till today.   

Along the fairway of my involvement with ensuring that individuals with disabilities have access and are included in the game and life, I have come across some Special Olympics Athletes who are reaching out to engage others with Intellectual Disabilities. 

Such is the case of a Special Olympics Athlete Brad Hennefer.  Many years ago, I met Brad and his family, and am proud to call him my friend.  Brad is a young man with Down Syndrome and lives in New Jersey.  In 2008, he was the first individual with Down Syndrome to graduate from the high school he attended, and today is employed at Wegmans, a regional grocery store.  

Brad started playing golf at age 3 when his older brother Bobby (now a PGA Professional) would take him to play miniature golf down on the Jersey shore. Brad would also accompany his mother to follow Bobby while playing in junior events.  By watching Bobby, Brad was slowly learning to swing and play golf. 

As Brad got older, his family noticed he had a talent when it came to golf.  While Bobby was away at college, Brad connected with Rich Smith Jr.  Rich worked with Brad to develop Brad’s swing and get Brad to a point where he could play 18 holes.  When Bobby returned from college and ultimately became a PGA Professional, the two paired up in Special Olympics competitions and have been very successful.

Along the way, Brad and his family, along with Rich Smith, wanted to give other people with Down Syndrome the same opportunities that he has.  Through their collaborative efforts along with help from others, they formed the Brad Hennefer Golf for Life Foundation conducting clinics around the Philadelphia and South Jersey area with a goal to expand to other areas of the country conducting clinics and events for individuals with Down Syndrome.  They have also collaborated with the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) and the local PGA Section. Due to Covid-19 along with some injuries, unfortunately Brad’s efforts have been limited recently.  But through it all, Brad still serves as a great ambassador for inclusion in our society.

So, as I mentioned before, I had the pleasure becoming a friend of Brad and his family, and being a part of, early on, the development of Brad Hennefer’s Golf for Life Foundation.  Through Brad, it shows that if you strive to achieve whether it is in the game of golf or life, all things are possible.  And in the end, through inclusion, we can have a game called golf and a society that is for everyone.

“Choose to Include”

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director

National Alliance for Accessible Golf

From the Executive Director: My Life Has Changed with the Swing of a Golf Club

This month’s blog may be for some sad and sobering.  It deals with the suicide rate of our military and veterans.  On an average, 20 veterans die each day from suicide.  You may not be aware of this statistic mainly because no one like to talk about suicide.  We need to get past these stigmas and address this critical issue.  Despite efforts by the VA aimed at addressing this, the statistics have remained basically the same over the last decade.  According to VA records, more veterans died by suicide from 2005 to 2017 (nearly 79,000) than the total number of troops who died in 30 years of war in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan (about 65,000).  For active military, the suicide rate as of 2018 was 24.8 per 100,000.  The overall civilian rate that same year was 14.2.  One death by suicide is one too many.

So, you ask, what does that have to do with the game of golf?  Well, through programs such as PGA HOPE, the GIVE program, Salute Military Golf, Links to Freedom, and American Lakes, to name a few, golf can and is making a difference.  

I had the opportunity to develop the embryo stage of PGA HOPE while I was with PGA of America.  PGA HOPE uses golf to make a positive impact on the lives of our military and veterans. I recall being at the opening of the PGA HOPE program at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio many years ago, and as the bus pulled up from Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), about 15 military patients got off.  The last person to get off the bus was a young Sergeant who had to be carried off the bus by 2 medical staff.  This individual was a double AK (Above the Knee amputee).  He had been in Iraq and an IED blew up on the road he and his platoon were traveling. I could tell he didn’t want to be there and had a lot of anger overall.   The young man was put into an Adaptive Golf Car and assisted in driving over to the golf range.  I decided to make him my student for the day.  After a few swings and tips, the first shot went down the range about 180 yards.  It was amazing.  The frown and anger suddenly became a big smile. 

Right then he told me, “I came today but I didn’t want to be here, and I have been thinking about suicide.  But my life has changed with the swing of a golf club.  I now know that when I go home, I can play golf with my friends and family, and most of all, nothing is impossible.” 

I found out later than this young man got a job at a local golf course and is encouraging veterans from his community to get engaged with the game of golf.  WOW!!  Golf can change lives.

Since then, I have heard countless stories about how golf has changed someone’s life.  Feel free to share with us your stories about this.  Send them to info@accessgolf.org.

So, as I close out this month’s blog, I would like to share the words of Rich O’Brien, National Alliance Board Member and Operations Manager for PGA HOPE Charleston.  “An invitation is a powerful thing and an opportunity that cannot be ignored.”  If you are a golfer, extend an invitation to a veteran or member of the military to join you on course.  If you run a facility, if you are an instructor of golf, or you are a community program coordinator, don’t wait for them to come to you.  Reach out and extend that invitation to join you in one of the greatest games of all, GOLF.

Until we meet again, “Choose to Include.” 

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director

An Invitation Is a Powerful Thing & An Opportunity That Cannot Be Ignored

By Rich O’Brien, Alliance Board Member and Operations Manager for PGA HOPE Program, Charleston, SC

As a golf writer, for many years, my colleagues wrote stories suggesting that the game of golf was dying because it is too difficult for new players to learn. They often have cited as evidence that the number of new players learning the game is about equal to the number of players leaving the game. The theory was that new players would become interested in the game and then quit when they became frustrated because it was just too hard to play well. 

As a member of the Board of Directors for the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, I believe that this type of superficial overview of the numbers does not paint an accurate picture of what is really happening. If you take the time to dig a little deeper and actually analyze the numbers on more than a superficial basis, you begin to see that each year hundreds of thousands of golfers, many of them avid players, suffer an injury, illness, or challenge that causes a lapse in their participation either on a temporary or permanent basis. 

Research from about 25 years ago by the National Center for Accessibility indicated that approximately 57 million Americans (19%) have some form of disability. It also revealed some eye-opening statistics that suggests that there is a strong desire to play golf among people with disabilities. Here are some of the highlights from that study: 

  • 10 percent of disabled Americans are currently playing golf;
  • 35 percent of individuals with disabilities are interested in learning how to play golf;
  • 22 percent of individuals with disabilities played golf prior to becoming disabled, but are no longer playing because of their disability.

The study also identified some key reasons why the individuals that were interested in golf are currently not playing the game:

  • 38 percent stated a need for lessons specific to their disability;
  • 36 percent said that they needed a better understanding of the fundamentals of golf;
  • 33 percent felt uncomfortable about playing in front of others;
  • 31 percent believed that the course staff did not know how to assist them.

Although the research by the National Center for Accessibility is now dated, it suggests that there is the opportunity to substantially grow the game of golf by working with individuals with injuries, illnesses, and challenges and helping them stay in the game (5.7 million) or by giving them back the gift of golf (12.54 million). It also suggests that millions of new players may enjoy the benefits of the game if we offer them the gift of adaptive/accessible golf (19.95 million).  Combined these numbers indicate that 67% of all individuals with disabilities were interested in playing golf. 

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the number of adult Americans with some form of disability has increased by over four million the past decade and now is over 61 million. The CDC’s report estimated that 26% of all Americans have one of the following disabilities: mobility disability (13.7%); cognitive disability (10.8%); deaf or have serious difficulty hearing (5.9%); or vision disability (4.6%). Additionally, 2.8 million children have a disability bringing the combined total to about 64 million people.

From a revenue standpoint, the situation for the golf industry is further compounded by the fact that when an individual becomes disabled it typically greatly affects those around them including their friends and family.  So, when an avid golfer becomes disabled, not only are the number of rounds that they play substantially reduced, but the members of their household and regular playing partners also tend to play significantly less (50%) golf too. It is also important to note that there is a relatively limited window of opportunity of about three years to invite these “lapsed” players back to the game before it becomes increasingly unlikely that they will ever play golf again. For that reason, I think it is imperative for the golf industry to adopt a sense of urgency to help as many individuals as possible adapt, improvise, and overcome the challenges they are facing that are causing their lapse in play. 

When taken as a whole, the cumulative effect of a golfer becoming disabled and no longer playing has far reaching implications to the health of the game. In fact, it appears to be a critical situation that the golf industry MUST address because millions of golfers, tens of millions of potential rounds, and billions of dollars of potential revenue are available if steps are taken to make the game more accessible.  

An Opportunity That Cannot Be Ignored

One of the projects that the National Alliance for Accessible Golf is currently working on is updating the research originally conducted by the National Center for Accessibility and providing up to date numbers for 2020 and beyond to improve our focus going forward.  This new research project should also point the way to positive and proactive steps that the industry can take to make the game more accessible and grow the game.  This new research should bring into sharp focus that injuries, illnesses, or challenges are a much more accurate explanation for the stagnant growth the game has experienced for much of the past decade. It should also create a sense of urgency in the golf industry that golf is a great form of therapy and an easy way that we can help keep as many players as possible enjoying the game. 

According to Steve Jubb, PGA, the Executive Director of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, “The mission of the Alliance is to not only increase participation of people with disabilities in the game, but also to create and promote awareness of the benefits of accessible golf.  Through golf, individuals with disabilities become actively engaged in the social fabric of a community and derive health benefits that improve the quality of life.”

Golf truly has the power to change people’s lives. I am very proud of what our team in Charleston, SC and the South Carolina Lowcountry has done to make the region the model community for accessible golf.  In the process, we have been able to improve the quality of life of veterans and others with injuries, illnesses, and challenges. We would like to challenge every community to follow our lead and strive to have a similar program in their area. Think of the impact that these new programs could have if everyone gets on board and rows in the same direction. Personally, I cannot think of a more worthy cause than that to lend my time, talent or treasure to than to help wounded Veterans and others get back in the game of life.  

As a good first step in making the game more accessible for everyone, I believe that it is critical for EVERY PGA and LPGA Professional to receive training in adaptive golf as it will provide access to the game of golf for millions of potential golfers that previously did not believe that they could play the game of golf. 

According to Joe Grohman, PGA HOPE National Trainer: “As the Head Professional at a military golf course for over 20 years and the Southern California PGA Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chairman for the last 12, I have extensive experience working with Wounded Warriors, Disabled Veterans and the disabled through golf. In my experience, there is no greater rehabilitative therapy than the game of golf. But don’t take my word for it. Go to an adaptive golf clinic and see for yourself!” Grohman added, “As golf professionals, it is our call to duty to make a difference in their lives the best we can with camaraderie, support, and encouragement through golf.”

Steve Jubb added, “Disability crosses all segments of society.  Through education, training, and awareness, golf course operators, program coordinators and other interested parties can bring the joy and benefits of golf to individuals with disabilities. So, when the golf industry talks about growing the game, the population with disabilities provides one of the greatest opportunities to do so.” 

Sadly, the golf industry has largely ignored this opportunity for decades, but I believe that the time has come to provide these programs for individuals with disabilities. In that way, accessible golf could be on the threshold of being the next great growth segment in the game of golf. I also believe that it could also potentially be the greatest public relations campaign that the game has ever known.

About the Author

Rich O’Brien is the Operations Manager for the groundbreaking PGA HOPE Charleston Program. A former college golf coach he utilized his training in sport psychology and exercise science to help him endure and recover from a complex polytrauma while using golf as therapy; a recovery that took four years and 12,000 hours of rehabilitation. He currently also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Alliance for Accessible Golf.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is a charitable organization working to ensure the opportunity for all individuals to play the game of golf. The Alliance is represented by major golf organizations in the United States, organizations that provide services for people with disabilities and other advocates. Through GAIN™ (Golf: Accessible and Inclusive Networks) and other programs, the Alliance promotes inclusion and awareness to the golf industry, golf instructors, and the public. For more information about Alliance programs and resources including Best Practices for Courses and Programs and the Toolkit for Golf Course Owners & Operators, please visit accessgolf.org.  

Edited 10/7/2020

From the Executive Director: Summer Is Over But Our Mission Continues

Well, summer is almost over, children in some areas are back or going back to school and others doing remote learning due to Covid-19.  I sincerely hope that everyone is well and safe.  

During the summer, several people have contacted our office asking, “Who is the National Alliance for Accessible Golf?”  While most of the national golf associations in the United States know of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf because they are represented on the Board of Directors of the National Alliance along with other recreation and therapeutic organizations and advocates, many grassroots programs serving individuals with disabilities as well as the general public may have not heard of the National Alliance and what we do.  So, I thought I would take this opportunity again to share with you all briefly who the National Alliance for Accessible Golf is and what we do.

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf was formed in 2001 as a national organization in the golf industry working to ensure the opportunity for all individuals with disabilities to play and experience the game of golf.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 61 million adult Americans with some form of disability. This includes 26 percent of the total US population. In other words, almost 1 in 4 U.S. residents has some form of a disability.  13.7 percent with a disability have a mobility disability, 10.8 percent with a disability have a cognitive disability, 5.9 percent with a disability are deaf or have serious difficulty hearing, 4.6 percent with a disability have a vision disability.  2.8 million children have a disability.

So, when the golf industry talks about “Growing the Game”, obviously the population with disabilities provides one of the greatest opportunities to do so.  Disability crosses all segments of society.  Through education, training, and awareness, golf course operators, program coordinators and other interested parties can bring the joy and benefits of golf to individuals with disabilities. 

The mission of the Alliance is to not only increase participation of people with disabilities in the game, but also to create and promote awareness of the benefits of accessible golf.  Through golf, individuals with disabilities become actively engaged in the social fabric of a community and derive health benefits that improve the quality of life.

The Alliance accomplishes this mission through several means:  Education and training resources for the golf industry, golfers with disabilities and golf facilities and programs; promotion to the golf industry and the general public that golf is for everyone; and finally, serving as an advocate for accessible golf.  And over the years since 2010, the National Alliance has provided more than $925,000 in grants to grassroots programs that are engaging individuals with disabilities through the game of golf.  For more information, check out our website at www.accessgolf.org.

So, I will close this month’s blog by saying that in this time where inclusion is being promoted across our country, let’s ensure that inclusion of individuals with disabilities is “included” in all aspects of our society including the game of golf.

Stephen C. Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director