Regional Conference Highlights ADA Compliance Issues

By Pat Gross, director, Southwest Region
January 23, 2013

Compliance issues related to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was one of the featured presentations at the GCSA/SCGA/PGA/USGA Regional Conference at San Gabriel Country Club on January 14, 2013. Fred Brattain from the Disabled Golfers Learning Foundation gave and informative and uplifting presentation about the do’s and don’ts of accommodating golfers with disabilities and complying with ADA regulations that go into effect on January 31, 2013. As Fred acknowledged, there is a lot of fear and misunderstanding throughout the golf industry about ADA compliance and how it could potentially affect golf course operations and the condition of the course. The definition of what constitutes a disability was discussed as well as the fact that discriminating against such golfers is a missed business opportunity (there are 55 million disabled people in the US, many of whom are interested in playing golf.)

Key issues covered in Fred’s presentation:

  • Compliance issues related to doors, ramps, toilet facilities, practice range access, golf course and clubhouse access.
  • The need for defining an accessible route through the golf course where carts can be driven to access tees, fairways, greens and recommended routes to the next hole. This can simply be a diagram or aerial image of the course with the recommended route.
  • Defining accessible teeing grounds.
  • Golf car passage requirements.

With the January 31st deadline fast approaching, many in the audience were concerned that they could be potential targets for law suits. The good news is that the ADA regulations include judicial considerations in the case of civil penalties that instruct judges “…to give consideration to any good faith effort or attempt to comply with the regulation.”

There was a very good discussion regarding how to serve customers with disabilities. Golf shop staff can ask to see documentation that the golfer is disabled, such as a car placard that allows parking in handicapped space, but directly asking “Are you a disabled golfer?” is discriminatory. Fred suggested that a better phrase is to ask “What can I do to make your round more enjoyable today?” Good advice for all customers.

An activity that every course should be completing right now is to develop a written plan on how to accommodate golfers with disabilities and training staff on the issue.

The following links provide additional information regarding golf courses and the ADA:

www.disabilitygolfer.org

Golf Course Maintenance and the ADA

Source: Pat Gross pgross@usga.org or 714.542.5766

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