Let’s Influence Beyond Inclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Barton, PGA – Executive Director

From the Executive Director – Spring is Here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Barton, PGA – Executive Director

From the Executive Director: A Fond Farewell

Hello again from the National Alliance. With 2021 over, it has been a challenging but still a wonderful year in our efforts to advance inclusion of individuals with disabilities through the game of golf. While the National Alliance does not conduct grassroots programs, we do support those efforts through the resources we provide such as education opportunities to ensure the game of golf is truly inclusive and at the same time accessible for individuals with disabilities.

Throughout the year, we have worked with more than one hundred golf facilities helping them become more accessible through an understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how to make their facilities welcoming to individuals with disabilities. The resources we have provided included our industry-based toolkit for facilities, education presentations at various industry events including the Golf Industry Show, and providing technical knowledge about ADA and what is required to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Since 2001 when the National Alliance was formed, we have continued to strive to be a leader in providing resources and being a clearinghouse for not only the golf industry but for individuals as well.

In addition, our Research Taskforce is continuing to work on collecting data and statistics about those with disabilities who are actively engaged in golf with a comparative against the total population of individuals with disabilities in the United States which stands at 61 million. For those who may not be aware, that population has a discretionary income (over and above the necessities of life) exceeding $21 billion. As we have said before, these are individuals who not only are potential golfers, but they are also potential customers.

As we move into 2022, we are looking forward to restarting our annual Inclusion Conference during the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando on January 26. We will be offering a series of four, one-hour sessions on various topics and a networking opportunity. Registration details will be forthcoming on www.accessgolf.org.

As I close out this blog and 2021, I want to thank the National Alliance for Accessible Golf for allowing me to serve as their Executive Director for the last seven years. Not only has it been rewarding personally and professionally, more importantly, I hope that I have made a difference in ensuring that individuals with disabilities can not only enjoy the game of golf but also life. So, with that, I bid you all farewell, but I am sure our paths will cross at some point. As we all go forth, remember the words of Tim Shriver of Special Olympics International – “Choose to Include.”

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM – Executive Director

National Alliance Seeks New Executive Director

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf is seeking its next Executive Director to lead the organization and advance its mission to ensure the opportunity for all individuals with disabilities to play the game of golf.

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM, has been a valuable asset serving in this role and his passion and professionalism has carried this important group through challenging times. We are thankful for the countless hours he has given to the work of the National Alliance and recognize and appreciate the effort he has given over the past six years. We wish him all the best in retirement!

Access the complete position description and listing below or via Indeed:

Executive Director Position Description

This is a full-time, salaried, and remote work position. Applications for this position are due by January 15, 2022.

All applications should be directed through Indeed.

From the Executive Director: What Does Disability Look Like?

2021 is almost over – just another month to go. The last couple of years have been challenging for us all especially those with disabilities. But we are looking forward to 2022 as we strive to ensure that the game of golf and life is truly inclusive. But to do so, we need to be welcoming as a sport and industry. Not all disabilities are visible.

Language is also extremely important. How many times have you heard people refer to an individual with a disability as “a handicapped person”? Or used the “R” word to describe an individual with intellectual disability? Or refer to someone as a “dwarf or midget”? These are some of the descriptions we need to change. A disability description is just a medical diagnosis. In communications with people, we need to focus on the individual first. Use phrases such as a “Person with a disability,” a “Person with intellectual disability,” or a “Person short in stature.”  Always put the Person first in your communication. A Person with a disability is a Person just like those without disability. They just happen to have a medical diagnosis. Better yet just refer to them as a Person!! 

A great resource from the CDC concerning People First Language is:

Communicating With and About People with Disabilities | CDC

There are more than 61 million individuals with disabilities in the United States, and they are a potential market for the golf industry. Disability crosses all segments of society. Yes, not all will gravitate to golf, but keep in mind that this population has over $21 billion in discretionary income (that is over and above the essentials of life such as mortgages, rent, food and health care). They are consumers, many of whom are looking for recreational activities. Make your golf courses, community golf programs and instruction programs accessible, inclusive, and most importantly, welcoming them to the game of golf and life.

Since 2001, we have promoted, advocated, and provided education/training programs and resources to individuals with disabilities and the golf industry to ensure inclusion. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, and as we look forward to the next 20 years and beyond, we need your support.

With 2021 ending soon, we ask that you consider a donation to the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. It is easy to make a year-end donation to the National Alliance. Go to www.accessgolf.org/donate. Thank you in advance for considering the National Alliance for Accessible Golf in your year-end giving.

Finally, may you all have a safe and happy holiday season.

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM – Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Teaching Golf and Life

2021 is almost over – only a couple of months left. Many of you are wrapping up your fall programs and for some of you the golf season is ending. We hope it has been a wonderful year for you, whether you run a facility, a program, or are involved in a program that ensures accessibility and inclusion.

Over the course of the last several years as Executive Director and in my prior role with PGA of America, I have seen many organizations form to serve individuals with different abilities— including those with physical, mental/cognitive, visual, auditory, and other challenges. Many programs are out there fighting the good fight for inclusion and accessibility and some have left this arena. In the end, they all have a place in the universal effort to ensure that individuals with different abilities have access to our game and to life. They all have a niche and I applaud each of them for their efforts.

Over the recent years, one of the terms I have noticed used by some of these organizations and programs is “Adaptive Golf.” Well, stepping back and looking at it, we all are just teaching and engaging individuals in “Golf” and at the same time “Life.” We may use adaptive equipment. We may adapt our instruction plans to accommodate the abilities of the individual. We may adapt the traditional round of golf (9 or 18) and engage individuals at whatever level of the game they can. They may just putt on the putting green. They may just hit balls on the range. They may play one hole, three holes or whatever. But in the end, they are all engaged with our sport – Golf! So, if you are a golf course operator or golf professional, golf course owner, golf course management company, program coordinator, or therapist, see how you can connect with the sixty-one million individuals with different abilities in our country, and see if you can get them involved with golf. Not only will they experience a game and all it offers but think of the social and psychological benefits of getting out of the house or rehab facility, out into the fresh air and green grass.

And if you have a current program, are a facility that welcomes individuals with different abilities, have an instructional program for these individuals and have a community based program serving this population through golf, go to www.accessgolf.org/submit-information  to enter your information into our search engine.  Individuals with different abilities are looking to engage with our sport. While on our website, check out our Resource page for helpful information about making golf more accessible, inclusive, and welcoming.

Finally, 20 years ago, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf was founded. Our mission is “to increase participation of people with disabilities in the game of golf.” We work to ensure that these individuals can engage with our sport at whatever level their abilities allow. As we celebrate 20 years, join us in the efforts to make golf more welcoming, accessible, and inclusive. You can support our mission today by going to www.accessgolf.org/donate.

Until next month, keep it in the middle of the fairway and always, “Choose to Include.”

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

From the Executive Director: Furthering Our Mission for 20 Years

Hard to believe it is September already. Where did the summer go? Hopefully for those of you that conduct programs to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to play our game (Golf), you have had a great summer. For those of you who operate golf facilities, I hope that you have looked at ways to ensure that your facility is accessible, and your programs are inclusive. And finally, for those of you who may have a disability, I hope you have looked beyond what you may see or feel as limitations and looked at the possibilities and opportunities to engage in not only golf but in life! Get out there and participate and learn at whatever level your “abilities” allow. That goes for us all. We all need to “Make Golf Our Thing.”

Back in 2001, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf was created to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access and can experience the game of golf at whatever level their abilities allow. As a golf industry alliance, over the years we have provided resources, education/training, research, and support to grassroots programs. As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we look forward to continuing our efforts. While we are supported by the golf industry, we need your support as well to provide our programs and achieve our mission. Please take a moment to consider a donation to the National Alliance for Accessible Golf. You can go to our website at www.accessgolf.org/donate to contribute. Thank you in advance for your support.

For this month’s blog, I am going to revert a few years to one of my previous blogs, but the story and subject still resonates today. 

Just the other day, I saw on Facebook a post about a golfer with a disability in the UK who was denied access to a golf course because he needed to use a “buggy,” as they call a golf car in the UK.  Supposedly the club had a policy that required walking unless he had a letter from a doctor justifying use of a “buggy.” It was a public access golf course owned by the town. The person in question has competed in European Disabled Golf Association events, is a very good golfer and has played several courses in the UK and never had an issue using a “buggy”. There is an ongoing lawsuit in this case, so I can’t comment on the particular case at this time.

In the US, golf courses need to be aware and knowledgeable of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for accessibility and accommodation. Reading through the Department of Justice documentation in ADA requirements can be challenging but worth the while to ensure your course is compliant. To help you out with this topic, you can visit www.accessgolf.org and click on Resources. There you will find a Toolkit for Course Operators that should assist you.

Access our Toolkits and other resources at http://www.accessgolf.org.

Also, make sure you click on the Links tab and check out the link to www.disabilityisnatural.com  and have a look at the document “People First Language” by Kathy Snow.  It is very important when serving individuals with disabilities that you use the correct language. More than 61 million individuals in our country have a disability. It is one of the most inclusive and diverse groups in our country, crossing all segments of our population. So, it is important to use the correct language. Oh, and by the way, this population has more than $21 billion dollars in discretionary income, (that’s income over and above mortgage, rent, food, medical, and other necessities of life). They are potential customers. 

The National Alliance for Accessible Golf would love to hear about your programs, accessible facilities, and your involvement in the game.  Send your best practices, photos, videos, and stories to info@accessgolf.org. Also make sure if you have a program, instruct individuals with disabilities or if your facility is accessible and welcoming to golfers with disabilities, go to our website at www.accessgolf.org/submit-information to include your information in our search engine. Individuals across the country are looking for programs, instruction and facilities that are welcoming. 

Until next month, “Choose to Include” and “Make Golf Your Thing.”

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Considering Digital Accessibility

White Keyboard with back lighting

Another hot summer in Florida, but hopefully everyone has been able to hit the links, wherever you are. Whether it is a round with family or friends or playing in one of the many competitions being conducted around the country, it is still a better day on the golf course than not.

In last month’s blog, we discussed the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it relates to physical accessibility. But accessibility goes beyond just the physical structure of your facility, the golf course, and even how your facility or program welcomes people with disabilities.

Beyond reviewing your facilities and staff training, take time to review your digital presence to ensure accessibility. Accessibility includes your website, tee time process, apps, digital videos, payment system, etc. Think through the process and experience:

  • Can someone with a visual disability use screen-reader software for your website? 
  • Can someone with a visual or hearing disability make a tee time at your facility or register for your programs? 

It may help you win and retain customers and help you avoid potential lawsuits, as noted in this recent Wall Street Journal article.

In our own discussions with our website provider, it has become apparent that web browsers have taken over more and more of the heavy lifting with regard to accessibility features. For example, websites no longer need to specify font size increases, etc. Take time to have this conversation with your digital partners and share these resources from Google Chrome, detailing the many accessibility features provided by modern browsers.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more work that can be done. As the article points out, it’s a bit of a moving target since there are no hard-and-fast rules on what constitutes accessibility in the technology realm. But we’re going to keep working at it.

On our website at www.accessgolf.org under Resources, you will find not only our toolkits for operators and for individuals with disabilities, but also links to other resources that will help make this game inclusive.

More to come next month so stay tune for the September blog.  Thank you all for reading this blog monthly, and for making sure that golf is inclusive for everyone!  Choose to Include!

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Providing Access to the Game

Hope everyone is having a great summer and are on the links playing our great sport, a sport that anyone can play, young or old, no matter what one’s ability level is. It may be that one only can engage with golf on the putting green, on the range, only play 1 or 2 holes or play 9 or 18 holes. But they are involved in golf. It is a sport that allows one to get out of the house, into an open-air environment with friends and family. It can be a healthy sport from a physical, mental, and social perspective. So, get out and play and “Make Golf Your Thing” (#makegolfyourthing).

I would like to take a moment and speak about accessibility and inclusion in our sport for individuals with disabilities. Despite efforts by the National Alliance and other organizations, I get calls about golf courses or organizations that are not providing access to the game for individuals with disabilities. I keep hoping that these cases are few and far between, but they still exist.

This month on July 26th, we are celebrating the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

Americans with Disabilities Act - ADA 31 - Celebrate the ADA! July 26, 2021

Let’s all get behind the efforts to ensure that golf courses and programs provide reasonable access to the game. That includes your facilities 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 also mean that policies, procedures, and other factors. These may include access to make tee times, proving materials in accessible format, using warning systems for those that have a hearing disability, and 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 still not ruled that public access courses must have adaptive mobility devices such as a SoloRider or a ParaGolfer (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 available is how do you market the fact that you have it 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 Modified Rules of Golf for Individuals with Disabilities (go to our Resource page on our website at www.accessgolf.org).

If you are an individual with disability looking for a golf facility and or program that is accessible, has instruction programs and/or has adaptive golf equipment, then check out our search engine on www.accessgolf.org. You can search by zip code as well as specific instruction programs and find a course nearby. Keep in mind that we are constantly building our database and each day adding new facilities. Also, if you operate a golf facility, program, or instruct individuals with disabilities, we would love to have you on this search engine. Visit www.accessgolf.org/Submit-Information to get started.

Until next month, have a great summer on the Links!  If you have a friend or family member that happens to have a disability, invite them out to the golf course. Maybe just to ride along, maybe to just putt on the green, or maybe to just have fun with family or friends! So, remember always to “Choose to Include” and “Make Golf Your Thing!”

Stephen Jubb, PGA/LM Executive Director

From the Executive Director: Make Golf Your Thing

Hello.  I cannot believe we are 5 months into 2021.  As summer is upon us, I hope everyone has a chance to get out and enjoy this great game, golf.  It is a game that can be played by young and old, all sectors of the population including individuals with disabilities. 

On May 12, the National Alliance participated virtually along with the golf industry for  National Golf Day.  Each year, this normally in-person event allows the golf industry to engage with members of Congress on major issues dealing with golf.  One of the topics this year was the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act.  PHIT promotes physical health by allowing the use of pre-tax medical funds such as FSA and HSA accounts to pay for qualified fitness and sports expenses of up to $1,000 per year for individuals or $2,000 for heads of households.  The benefits of PHIT Act help individuals and families overcome financial barriers to active lifestyles.  Some of the items covered under the PHIT Act include lessons and clinics, green fees, sports equipment, among other things. 

The CDC recommends that “healthy adults should participate in moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, five days a week.”  And golf provides a great opportunity to get out and get healthy, no matter your ability.  If you can walk, walking 18 holes equals a 31/2 mile run or a 5-mile walk.  Even if you are not able to walk, getting out and playing  can greatly improve your health, physically and mentally.  That is why the golf industry feels the PHIT ACT is so important.  Based on the discussion with members of Congress on National Golf Day, there is strong support for the PHIT Act. 

On another note, on May 19, the National Alliance conducted its annual Spring Strategic Board of Director meeting this year.  A good portion of that day was spent on reviewing some of the taskforce efforts by the National Alliance such as the Research Taskforce.  Data about individuals with disabilities in the game of golf has been very old and outdated.  The Taskforce is working with various organizations nationally and grassroots to collect that data.  With more than 61 million people with disabilities in our country and a total discretionary income exceeding $27 billion, there is a great possibility for growing the game.

You may have heard or may have not yet that there is a new movement in the golf industry to engage with individuals across our land to grow and diversify our sport.  Since the start of COVID, interest in golf has boomed.  The golf industry wants to invite everyone – from all backgrounds – to engage with golf in their own way, whether it is the traditional 18-hole experience, a golf range, an evening at facilities like Topgolf, in your backyard with a club and whiffle ball or just being a fan.  You may have seen already some of the promotion pieces on TV or social media.  The tagline is Make Golf Your Thing.   So, grab a friend or family member and get out and play no matter your ability or where and Make Golf Your Thing.

If you have not visited our website lately, check out the resources, search engine and other information and links there at www.accessgolf.org.  Again, if you have an accessible facility for individuals with disabilities, or have a community program serving those individuals through golf or are a golf instructor that teaches golf for individuals with disabilities, please add your information to our search engine by going to www.accessgolf.org/submit-information.

Until next time, get out and Make Golf Your Thing!

Steve Jubb, PGA/LM

Executive Director