Inclusive Golf Program
What is an inclusive golf program?
A true inclusive golf program is one where all people, regardless of ability or disability, participate at the same venue alongside each other and in the same activities. The success of such a program is dependent on a number of factors:
- Program providers must want to provide inclusive programming and insure that their attitudes towards people with disabilities are positive. It is important not to let stereotypes, perceptions or assumptions trump observations and true capabilities.
- Participants with disabilities must be encouraged to participate and know that they are welcome in the program
- Community support resources need to be in place. Organizations that provide services for people with disabilities can provide important input and support for participants with severe disabilities. Medical specialists, therapists, independent living center staff, and social service workers can be valuable resources on disability and behavior management issues.
- A strong core of volunteers and mentors needs to be in place in order to provide the necessary support and assist in the engagement of participants with disabilities. Senior citizens and college and university students are just two groups that can be tapped for involvement in the program.
- Adaptive equipment and resources for those requiring the use of adaptive equipment in order to successfully play at whatever level their capabilities will allow. Equipment will ultimately include adapted golf clubs, snag equipment, gripping devices, and accessible golf cars, to name a few, that will be necessary for an inclusive program to succeed. (see NCHPAD Golf Resources at http://www.ncpad.org/212/equipment/Golf)
- Training for staff, volunteers, and mentors can be a major asset to insuring that the program succeeds. Training on disability awareness and functional abilities as well as instructional techniques, program structure, and program sustainability are a few training topics that should be considered.
An inclusive golf program does not mean that some modifications or adaptations to the program won't be necessary. It certainly doesn't mean that all participants, those with and without disabilities, will be able to perform at the exact same level, pace or skill. The inclusive golf program should focus not only on teaching the game of golf, but also the social values that can be derived by everyone participating together. While learning to play golf is fun, learning to appreciate differences among people has great redeeming value. For those without disabilities, participating in a program with those who have disabilities develops understanding, empathy and most of all a new meaning of friendship. This is far more lasting and meaningful than learning to swing a golf club. For those with disabilities, an inclusive program means developing self confidence, gaining new perspectives on inclusion opportunities, and learning to play a game that they can enjoy for a lifetime.
In the following video clip, listen to Mr. Tom Houston, a golfer who has a disability, talk about the importance of golf in providing opportunities for people with disabilities to become more included in society.
The following video clip provides a brief discussion on how an inclusive golf program impacts both people with and without disabilities
An inclusive golf program should be just that - it should include those with severe and less severe disabilities, as well as those with hidden disabilities and health conditions. A golf program can be designed to include everyone with the support of the various resources listed above and the proper program structure discussed below.