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

From the Executive Director: Let the Sun Shine

Black Yellow White Flower Sunshine Valentine's Day Card (1)Hello.  Amazing we are already into August 2020.  I sometimes wonder where the time goes.  Seems like only yesterday we heard about Covid-19.  And here we are in August still dealing with the pandemic.  But I am confident we will see “sunshine” soon even if it is in 2021.  In the meantime, we all must forge forward keeping in mind social distancing.

Golf provides an excellent way to get out of the house and engage in a recreational activity while keeping social distance.  Many courses are back up operating by allowing 1 person per golf car, installing a barrier between the 2 seats in the golf car, and those courses that allow walking, what a better way to social distance but still have the camaraderie of friends and get some exercise at the same time. So, hope to see you on the course soon.

As many of you know, I have a passion for inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the game of golf.  It all started in the 1980s when I was asked along with a fellow PGA Professional Wayne Warms in New Jersey to conduct a golf demonstration/clinic at the New Jersey Special Olympics Summer Games.  Admittedly, I was a little nervous about the clinic.  What I found out was that the Special Olympics Athletes loved the game of golf even though golf back then was not an official sport of Special Olympics.  Between the hugs, the high fives after hitting a shot and the smiles, (yes, that was pre-Covid), I saw that golf could be accessible and should be inclusive of all individuals including those with disabilities.  Fast forward to today, I am grateful that I can make a difference in peoples’ lives through the game of golf.

In order to help facilitate access, the National Alliance has a search engine on its website at www.accessgolf.org to locate a golf facility, instructor and/or program that is accessible, has adaptive golf instruction programs and/or has adaptive golf equipment.  Check it out if you are looking for a connection.  Also, if you operate a golf facility, give instruction to individuals with disabilities or have a program serving those individuals, we would love to have you on this search engine.  There is a link on our site to provide your facility and program information.

Finally, the National Alliance is reliant on support from not only the Allied Associations of Golf but also individuals and organizations that have an interest in seeing the game of golf more inclusive.  Go to www.accessgolf.org and click on the “Donate” button.

Hope you all have a great rest of the summer, and remember, “Choose to Include!”

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM
Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Rekindling the Fire

Well, it is July and while we are still dealing with Covid-19, I would hope that you all have been able to rekindle the fire to play golf and are out there on the links.  Golf is a great sport for everyone, and can be inclusive of not only gender, race, etc. but also for individuals with disability.

I would like to take a moment and speak about accessibility and inclusion in our sport for individuals with disabilities.  As I have mentioned before, I get calls occasionally about golf courses or organizations that are not providing access to the game for individuals with disabilities.  I hope that those cases are few and far between.

On July 26th, we will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

ADA

Signed into law in 1990, the ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all area of public life.  That also includes private places open to the general public.  The purpose is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.  Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), golf courses and programs must provide access to the game.  That includes your facility’s infrastructure such as clubhouse, bathrooms, etc. but it also includes access on the golf course. That may mean access to a tee, to a fairway, or to a putting green.

If you are conducting a golf program for individuals with disabilities, you need to ensure that those individuals have access.  For programs and access, we mean that in addition to access to the game, we also mean policies, procedures and other factors like making tee times, material in accessible format, warning systems for those that have a hearing disability, allowing someone with a visual disability to use a guide at no cost provided the guide is not playing.

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

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

So, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of ADA, let’s not just celebrate it this month, but all year round.  The game of golf is and should be accessible and inclusive.  And as I always close out these blogs, “Choose to Include.”

Steve Jubb, PGA – LM

Executive Director

PGA HOPE Helps to Improve the Quality of Life of Veterans

JoshJosh Swindle with Perry Green and Fred Gutierrez (Photo courtesy of Grace Beahm Alford)

By Rich O’Brien; PGA HOPE Charleston

The COVID-19 Pandemic has been a challenging time for many Americans as a high degree of uncertainty has become the new norm for all Americans.  The Carolinas PGA went to work and has creatively found a way to keep our Veterans connected during these challenging times. 

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are over 4 million disabled Veterans nationwide and Post Traumatic Stress is one of the most common challenges faced by them after returning home from the battlefield and following military service. 

Sadly, many Veterans struggle to reintegrate back into society following military service as they battle conditions such as post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, loss of limbs, or paralysis. In many cases, the Veterans feel alone in their struggles as their family and friends cannot understand the challenges they face. As a result of feeling alone, approximately twenty-two Veterans lose their battle with Post-Traumatic Stress every day on average in this country.

To help combat this problem, the PGA of America and Department of Veterans Affairs created a partnership known as PGA HOPE which stands for Helping Our Patriots Everywhere.  PGA HOPE is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. Through the PGA HOPE program the PGA of America aspires to create a physically and emotionally healthier Veteran community by shaping lives, changing lives, and possibly saving lives through the game of golf. As part of the program, specially trained PGA professionals introduce Veterans to golf through a developmental 6-8 week curriculum. The lesson series is FREE to all Veterans as the program is funded by PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America.

It has been my honor to be the Operations Manager and one of the champions of the PGA HOPE Charleston program. As the son and grandson of disabled Veterans, the PGA HOPE program has been my way to help Veterans, like them, improve the quality of their lives. The program has grown from a handful of Veterans five years ago into the nation’s largest chapter with over 300 Veterans participating in year round clinics at six host sites. The Charleston program has become the model program for the PGA’s Flagship Military Outreach Program. 

PGA HOPE has proven to be an excellent way for Veterans and active-duty personnel with injuries, illnesses, or challenges to improve the quality of their lives and reintegrate back into society.  Camaraderie has been the key as Veterans no longer feel alone and, through the program, many have been able to trade nightmares and flashbacks for golf dreams and new friendships.  For some Veterans, knowing that another Veteran had their back has helped save their lives, while for others it has helped them overcome addictions that probably would have ended their lives. 

In 2019, PGA HOPE impacted 2,500 Veterans nationwide across 37 participating PGA Sections, hosted at 132 program locations, and taught by 350 PGA Professionals.  The Carolinas PGA Section is the largest section of the PGA of America and it also has taken a lead role for the PGA HOPE program with 12 program locations taught by 48 Carolinas PGA members. This past year, there were 359 new Veterans participating in the program and since the program’s inception in 2015, 955 Veterans have graduated from the program at one of the host sites. 

Back in March, many of the PGA HOPE clinics from around the country were getting ready to start their spring series when the United States was shut down due to the global pandemic. This presented an interesting challenge to keep the spirit of camaraderie alive as the Veterans in the program were among hundreds of millions of Americans that were asked by our leaders to isolate themselves.  

According to Laura Miller, PGA HOPE Specialist for the PGA of America, “Amidst the ongoing challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, the PGA HOPE team has drawn on its collaborative network of positive influencers (aka the PGA HOPE family) in each of the participating PGA Sections to keep the spirit of HOPE alive – albeit virtually – during these trying times.”

She added, “Early on in the national quarantine,  PGA HQ “brainstormed” with the dedicated staff of the 41 PGA Sections/Foundations and the 350 passionate PGA HOPE instructors and the collaborative ideas that were created blew us away!  Among the creative ideas were virtual “hangouts” for Veterans, online lessons, trick shot challenges, Facebook live group chats, and even a trash talking competition – there is no shortage of constructive outlets for PGA HOPE Veterans to access during this strange and stressful time.”

Miller also applauded the outstanding efforts of the Carolinas PGA HOPE team by saying, “Even at the height of a global pandemic, the Carolinas PGA HOPE team continues to be a force for good.  As the largest and one of the most engaged PGA HOPE friendly Sections in the country, the Carolinas have truly embraced the mission of caring for our nation’s heroes through the HOPE program.  The passion and genuine care of the instructors delivering PGA HOPE programming continues to be the Carolinas’ greatest asset, and is reflected in the gratitude and success of each of their HOPE graduates.”

To find out how you can get involved in the PGA HOPE program either as a participant, coach, or sponsor, contact your local PGA Section for more information.  To find the nearest PGA HOPE chapter to you visit, https://www.pgareach.org/services/military

 

About the Author:

Rich O’Brien (Golf Writer) is the Operations Manager for the groundbreaking PGA HOPE Charleston Program. A former college golf coach he utilized his training in sports psychology and exercise science to help him recover from a catastrophic injury while using golf as therapy. He currently also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Alliance of Accessible Golf and is considered by many to be “the voice of adaptive 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.
PGA REACH is the 501(c)(3) charitable foundation of the PGA of America. The mission of PGA REACH is to positively impact the lives of youth, military, and diverse populations by enabling access to PGA Professionals, PGA Sections and the game of golf. For more information about the PGA HOPE program in your area, contact your local PGA section.

From the Executive Director: Together We Can

green_grass-605.jpgI can’t believe it!  Almost half the year is already gone.  Although COVID-19 put most of us on hold, golf courses and programs are slowly reopening.  It will take some  time for things to get back to normal, whatever that new normal may be.  But we will get there.

As things start back up, programming to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to the game of golf and life may take some time to resume. But we encourage everyone to remember a phrase coined by Tim Shriver, disability rights advocate and Chairman of Special Olympics – “Remember to Choose to Include”.  When society talks about inclusion, yes it includes gender, ethnic minority, etc., but it also includes individuals with disabilities which crosses all segments of our population.

The number of individuals with disabilities varies depending on who conducted the survey and when a survey has been conducted.  According to the most recent from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 61 million adults in the United States with some form of a disability.  That is 1 in 4 in the adult population.  Regarding youth with a disability, according to Youth.gov, of the 62 million children in the USA under age 15, almost 10% have a disability.

What do all these statistics tell us?  There is a great opportunity for everyone engaged in the business and game of golf to reach out to organizations, therapeutic facilities, hospitals, etc. that serve this population and  introduce golf as a possible program to provide the experience and benefits that the game has for these individuals.  Great examples are programs conducted by Dana Dempsey at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas with their “Learn to Golf” program.  Another is Kevin Corn, PGA Professional, who conducts a program in collaboration with Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital in Maryland Heights, Missouri.  The PGA HOPE program conducted by the PGA of America and their PGA REACH foundation is impacting the lives of our Veterans and Military each day through golf.  I could go on and on about programs around the country that are making a difference through our game.  But much more should be done to ensure that our game is truly inclusive.

The National Alliance is here to assist you in the development of these programs for inclusion. Check out our website at www.accessgolf.org for resources, best practices, program/facility/instructor search engine, toolkits for courses and individuals with disabilities, and much more.

Together we can all make this game inclusive and accessible.

Steve Jubb, PGA – Executive Director

 

From the Executive Director: Including All When Returning to Golf

richard-balog-H9GZgI6jU7Y-unsplashWell, here we are a month later from our last conversation via this blog.  We are still having challenges because of COVID-19 and these challenges are unlikely to abate for some time.  We pray for those front line responders fighting the virus and extend our thoughts and prayers to the families who have lost loved ones.

While businesses like golf courses are reopening around the country, we all need to still take preventive measures.  That includes individuals with disabilities.

Over the last month, I have heard from several individuals and golf courses about the accommodation of individuals with disabilities.  Many states initially imposed walking-only restrictions on golf courses.  What the states failed to consider was how someone with a disability could still have the opportunity to play and experience the game of golf like those without disabilities.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the same level of access for individuals with disabilities as those without.  Thankfully most states have since amended their orders to allow the use of golf cars by individuals with disabilities after hearing from the allied association of golf, course owners/operators, and golfers with disabilities.

If you are a person with disability or know of someone moving beyond the challenges of today to engage in golf, please send their story my way at info@accessgolf.org.

Finally, again maintain the preventative measures, and be safe and well, and remember that We will get through these challenges.

And as we return to playing the game of golf, remember “CHOOSE TO INCLUDE.”

Steve Jubb, PGA

From the Executive Director: Stay Healthy and in Golf Shape

We are all experiencing challenging times right now.  Life has changed temporarily.  Social distancing has become the norm.  Golf courses have closed in some areas.  But if we dwell on the negative, it will not be good for our physical and mental health or the game of golf.

Instead, let’s look forward to the day when we can all hit the links again.  In the meantime, do what you can to stay healthy and in golf shape.  For those with disabilities, it is even more important.  Look for opportunities such as what Matthew Drumwright, Special Olympics Athlete in Tennessee, has done.  Daily he has posted a Facebook Video highlighting how he is staying healthy physically and mentally.  https://www.facebook.com/specialolympicstn/videos/205444217454660/

Great stuff and keep posting, Matthew.  If you are a person with disability or know of someone moving beyond the challenges of today, please send their story my way at info@accessgolf.org.

As we progress this year, we are pleased to have an opportunity in October to share with the National Recreation and Parks Association and its members about accessibility and inclusion.  And we are starting plans for our 4th annual education conference on Inclusion next January during the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL.  Aside from those opportunities to share the message, information and resources, we are always on the look for other opportunities to educate organizations and programs on the benefits of inclusion in the game of golf.

Finally, if you have a program, do instruction or have a facility that is accessible for individuals with disabilities, we have a search engine on our website at www.accessgolf.org.  Go there and enter your information so we can share that with individuals that are looking for access to our game.

Finally, be safe and well, and remember – CHOOSE TO INCLUDE

Steve Jubb, PGA

Executive Director

National Alliance for Accessible Golf