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 a decade ago by the National Center for Accessibility indicated that approximately 57 million Americans (19%) suffer from some form of disability. It also revealed some eye-opening statistics that suggests that there is a strong desire to play golf among the disabled population. 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 the disabled population 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 somewhat 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 disabled individuals 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.  

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

From the Executive Director: Open the Doors to the Business of Golf

GolfDay.121I often talk with people around the country about golf and individuals with disabilities.  Some of the stats I share are that there are now 61 million adults in the US that have some form of disability (according to the CDC).  That is 26 percent of the total US adult population.  For children with disabilities, 1 in 5 children have some form of disability (according to the Health and Human Services agency).

When the golf industry talks about growing the business and game of golf, let’s all consider individuals with disabilities.  Given the numbers quoted above, getting more individuals with disabilities into the game will definitely help move the needle.  At the same time, let’s take a look at the business side of the game.  In 2018, only 29,893 people with disabilities entered the workforce.  That’s a ten-fold decrease compared to 343,000 two years prior.

As the golf industry, let’s take a look at the jobs we have available and make a conscious effort to reach out in our communities to agencies and organizations that serve individuals with disabilities, and consider someone with a disability for a position at the golf club or within a golf organization.  That could be a position in golf operations (pro shop, outside operations, or even course maintenance).  Take the example of other industries such as the grocery industry who in many cases have done a great job of employing individuals with disabilities.  In my back yard, Publix grocery stores have excelled at employment of individuals with disabilities.

Most organizations in golf and individuals I speak with agree that golf needs to be inclusive of everyone.  But one thing that some people have wrong is that they feel that individuals with disabilities are different.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  We all have different abilities.  Anyone with a disability is just an individual seeking to enjoy the game and to be involved in their community like everyone else.

So, my closing comment is to those engaged in golf whether it is operating a golf facility, golf organizations whose mission is to grow the game or the general public, let’s open the doors and welcome everyone into the game and business of golf.

Choose to Include,

Steve Jubb, PGA

Executive Director

 

From the Executive Director: INCLUSIVE Golf Conference Recap

Hope everyone is having a great start to 2020.  Wow, another start of a new decade.  This marks the 20th year of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf.  Great things have been accomplished since 2001 when the National Alliance was formed but work still needs to be done to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not left on the sidelines in golf.

To that end, back in January, the National Alliance for Accessible Golf continued our efforts to educate the golf industry about Inclusion.  At the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, aside from several on-on-one meetings with various organizations and individuals in the golf industry to discuss Inclusion in the golf of individuals with disabilities, (including attending the We Are Golf Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce meeting), the biggest event was hosting the National Alliance Inclusive Golf Conference with a gathering of more than 35 organizations and/or individuals who are focused on Inclusion at the national and grassroots level.  The event kicked off with guest speaker, Patti Valero, golf coach for individuals with disabilities, fire fighter/paramedic, #1 female in the World Golf Rankings for Golfers with Disabilities, 2019 Canadian Amputee and Disabled National Champion.  Following a very moving opening, Steve Mona of We Are Golf shared the state of the golf industry especially as it relates to inclusion. The rest of the conference was focused on sharing and networking from organizations to individuals with disabilities sharing their stories of how golf made a positive impact the lives of individuals.  In the end, attendees walked away with best practices and contacts to make their local efforts successful in ensuring that individuals with disabilities can experience the game of golf at whatever their ability level is.

Valero and Bel Jan

Patti Valero & Jan Bel Jan

According to the Census Brief of 2019, 20% of the US population have one or more diagnosed psychological or physical disability.  That’s one in five people in our country.

So, as we continue our journey into 2020, let’s all strive to ensure that the game of golf is truly INCLUSIVE.  In all we do, let’s remember the words spoken by Tim Shriver of Special Olympics International, “Choose to Include.”

Steve Jubb, PGA – Executive Director