Golfers With Intellectual Disabilities

Back to Rules For Golfers With Disabilities

The needs of the golfer with intellectual disabilities will be unique to that individual and dependent upon the severity of the disability. If it is elected to play by the Rules, this group of individuals should be able to do so, although some players may require on-course supervision to facilitate some or all aspects of play, including etiquette. In that regard, the on-course supervisor would, in some cases, be somewhat analogous to the coach used by a blind golfer. In other situations, where someone is present on an as needed basis this person would be classified as an “overseer.” An overseer’s function is more general in scope. An overseer is there to assist any player requiring assistance and is not specifically assigned to one player. The following Definition is recommended:


An “overseer” is one employed by the Committee and assists with the conduct of the competition. He is not assigned to a specific player nor is he part of a side. An “overseer” is an outside agency.

The status of the “supervisor” and the duties that he may perform should be defined clearly. Without this clarification it would be difficult for a golfer with intellectual disabilities to determine how he should proceed in a variety of Rules situations that may arise, e.g., seeking advice, or if his ball were to strike his or another player’s supervisor after a stroke. The following Definition is recommended:


A “supervisor” is one who assists a golfer with intellectual disabilities in his play, the application of the Rules and etiquette. A supervisor has the same status under the Rules as a caddie.

Note 1:  A player may ask for and receive advice from his supervisor.

Note 2:  A player may have only one supervisor at any one time.

Rule 6-4 (Caddie)

The supervisor of a golfer with intellectual disabilities would, in some ways, be analogous to the coach of a blind golfer and, as such, the role of the supervisor may conflict with Rule 6-4 (Caddie). Therefore, there should not be a prohibition against a golfer with intellectual disabilities having both a supervisor and a caddie. In these circumstances however, the supervisor may not carry or handle the player’s clubs, except in assisting him as permitted by analogy to Decision 6-4/4.5. Otherwise, the player would be subject to penalty under Rule 6-4 for having more than one caddie.

Rule 8-1 (Advice)

In view of the Definition of “supervisor,” it is suggested that Rule 8-1 be modified as follows:

8-1. Advice

During a stipulated round, a player must not:
a.   give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner, or
b.   ask for advice from anyone other than his partner, either of their caddies or, if applicable, their supervisors.

While the above language may provide the basis for handling the difficulties that golfers with intellectual disabilities face in dealing with the Rules and etiquette, there may be additional problems if the golfer has both intellectual and physical disabilities. In this case it is suggested that a combination of the Modification of the Rules of Golf for both golfers with intellectual disabilities and golfers who are physically disabled, if applicable, should be applied.