BACKThe idea of playing golf conjures up images of a relaxing half day on well-groomed greens sharing conversation, casually making business deals, taking in some light exercise, or just having a good time.
For people with disabilities, being able to play golf—much less compete with able-bodied peers—may have seemed impossible. But thanks to advances in equipment technologies, amendments to U.S. Golf Association rules, and a three-year-old advocacy group, golfers with disabilities can achieve all of the above.
Recent studies have shown that golf courses are discovering the benefits of broadening play opportunities for people with disabilities. At the same time, many with disabilities are discovering the benefits of golf. A February 2003 article in Golf Club Management magazine cites a National Alliance for Accessible Golf (Alliance) estimate that identifies the size of the potential disabled golfer population.
“With accessible golf in the initial stages of development and not enough statistics available to indicate how soon an investment for accessibility improvements will return added revenues, the best gauge [of actual increase] may be population trends that appear to confirm the need for accessible golf is arriving fast,” author Frank McAlonan writes. “The Alliance estimates the total population of Americans with disabilities at 54 million and their disposable income at $214 billion. Currently only 10 percent of them play golf, while another 35 percent would like to play, Alliance research shows.” (“Accessible Golf a Win-Win,” Golf Club Management, Feb. 2003.)
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