The USGA believes that champions can come from anywhere. The Association helps make golf competitions accessible to individuals with disabilities and strives to make its own national championships accessible to competitors, caddies and spectators.
One of the great attributes of the game of golf is that any player can compete against any other player evenly, even when they happen to be of different skill levels. Such parity is due to the USGA Handicap System™. Naturally, this system is only effective when all players play in accordance with the Rules of Golf.
Yet, some golfers with disabilities may be functionally unable to follow all of the Rules. To address this disparity, the USGA Rules of Golf Committee authored A Modification of the Rules of Golf for Golfers with Disabilities. This document provides guidelines for accommodations that players with disabilities may equitably receive, allowing these golfers to post official scores that can be used for handicapping purposes and in competitions at the discretion of the Committee. It is also endorsed by golf’s other major governing body, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, allowing golfers throughout the world, regardless of ability, to play by the same set of rules.
To learn more about A Modification of the Rules of Golf for Golfers with Disabilities, please click here. “‘You Don’t Have to See It to Tee It’ is the motto for our organization because we are all living proof that golf is a great game for blind and vision-impaired people. I love the fact that, with the help of a coach, I can compete with sighted golfers on equal terms.” – Jim Baker. Baker is the president of the U.S. Blind Golfers Association, a USGA-supported program. He has been playing golf for 11 years after going blind as a result of diabetic retinopathy.
Just as the USGA works to help individuals with disabilities play golf, it is also committed to providing an enjoyable spectator experience for people with disabilities at USGA championships. Every possible effort is made to ensure that spectators with disabilities can watch the exciting action. At the U.S. Open, Senior Open and Women’s Open championships where there are large crowds, the USGA provides preferred viewing areas in grandstands as well as on-course shuttles, accessible parking areas and mobility scooters. As often as possible, the scooter carts are provided at all 13 of the USGA’s national championships at no cost, and allow spectators with mobility impairments to navigate the course and follow their favorite players throughout the championship.
For those who enter a USGA championship, the Association has a formal procedure by which a golfer with a disability may petition to gain the accommodation of a golf cart to help in his or her quest to qualify for, or compete in, a championship. Since instituting this policy, many golfers with disabilities have benefited through such accommodations. The USGA’s policy also considers caddies with disabilities.
“My dad was thrilled to once again follow me all the way. We both thought the scooter for people with limited mobility was better than sliced bread! It meant the world to have him out there, even though it was sometimes scary watching him drive!”Nancy Lopez, two-time USGA champion and winner of 48 LPGA events. Nancy’s father, Domingo, taught her how to play golf, but was unable to watch her play a full round for several years until the introduction of on-course scooters at the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open.