Benefits and Barriers to Golf
Benefits of Golf
|Project GAIN lessons teach participants the game of golf while having fun.|
The game of golf offers endless benefits to all who play. Golfers receive health benefits from the physical activity, experience greater quality of life from the social nature of the game, and acquire feelings of self-determination and confidence, among numerous other benefits. Ryan and Chorost (2002, p. 7) assert that these "social and cultural attributes make golf an excellent basis for programs which aim to teach skills that can be used both in the sport and in life." In addition, golf is one of the few sports where participation spans across generations, making it truly a lifetime activity.
Barriers to Golf
As they age, many avid golfers become faced with the devastating perception that they can no longer engage in the sport they love due to the onset of various disabilities. In addition, many people with disabilities (physical, developmental, cognitive, etc.) have either never been presented with the opportunity to play golf, or have faced various barriers to their participation. Schleien (1993) identified categories of barriers to inclusive recreation as architectural, programmatic, and attitudinal. Architectural barriers include physical obstacles to inclusion such as access to buildings or outdoor facilities. Programmatic barriers include safety, not having qualified staff, and other such administrative issues. Lastly, attitudinal barriers, which individuals with disabilities have identified as the most significant barrier, include negative social responses, unequal treatment or expectations, lack of acceptance, stigmas, and so on (Devine & Broach, 1998).
While past efforts have been made to promote inclusion in the game of golf, they have not seen much success, or at least have not managed to produce enduring benefits. The reason that substantial results have not been achieved is likely due to the brief nature of these inclusive experiences that were often carried out as one-day clinics. These brief exposures may have brought people with and without disabilities together and induced excitement and interest in the game of golf, but once the clinic was over, the participants were left without the tools and skills to pursue golf nor the continuation of a structure or resources to be made available to them.