Making Your Course More Accessible

Last month, we shared that we recently updated our toolkits. One is designed for individuals with disabilities who are seeking to get into golf; the other is designed for owners and operators who are seeking to make their course more accessible.

The Toolkit for Owners and Operators seeks to assist in providing best practices and general information. Covering more than 35 frequently asked questions as well as the statutory guidelines for accessibility, this toolkit will get any owner, operator or manager started. In this blog, we’ll highlight a couple of FAQs that our office receives from owner/operators.

Question #3 – May I ask a golfer who requests accommodation under the ADA if he/she has a disability that is covered by the ADA?

You can not single out golfers with disabilities for this question. However, you may ask all golfers if they have need for a modification or accommodation to enjoy golf because of a disability. It is discriminatory to single out one golfer for that question. In this discussion you should not ask the golfer to tell you what the disability is. You only need to know that he/she have a disability. A golfer’s disability may not be apparent visually. You should take the person’s word for it. Some facilities have information posted in the pro shop that explains the ADA and the definition of a covered disability.

Question #18 – Do I have to allow a golfer with a disability unlimited access with their car – including on to greens?

This situation arises frequently. Golfers with disabilities need full access to the game, including the greens. The ADA requires you to make modifications necessary to not discriminate against people with disabilities. The only exception is if weather or agronomic conditions are such that a golf car on the green will cause irreparable damage and significant financial harm. Once again, the burden of proof lies with the golf course operator.

On the issue of golf cars on the greens, product development continues to develop “greens friendly” mobility devices. The PSI (pounds per square inch of pressure) of some of these single rider golf cars on the greens surface is often less than the human footprint and less than that applied by motorized mowing equipment. Include information in your golf car policy regarding the appropriate operation of a motorized car on the green. As stated above, the burden of proof, in case of complaint or litigation, will rest on the golf course owner to prove that allowing these mobility devices on greens surfaces will create an undo burden. It is important to be factual when you make this decision and not rely on perceptions or stereotypes.

The Alliance encourages you to learn more to make your course more accessible and welcoming to individuals with disabilities. Review the entire Toolkit online at http://www.accessgolf.org/resources/toolkit_owners.cfm.