United States Golf Association: For the Good of the Game program
The USGA works to make the game of golf affordable and accessible. Since 1997, the USGA Grants Initiative has provided more than $65 million to more than 1,000 programs that serve economically disadvantaged juniors and individuals with disabilities. More than 2.2 million participants have benefited from these programs. Beyond its Grants Initiative, the USGA operates several direct charitable activities and partners with national organizations to promote accessible facility development, affordable course access, opportunities for girls in golf, and initiatives for individuals with disabilities. Some examples of a few programs that the USGA has recently funded include:
- The Ohio Junior Golf Association, which operates The First Tee of Lake Erie, will use the program GAIN (Golf: Accessible and Inclusive Networks) to introduce golf to individuals with disabilities. The organization provides an enhanced life-skill and golf curriculum to these participants to fully immerse them in the game.
- The Bergenfield Public School District (BPSD) serves autistic children through its Not Far From Par golf program. The program uses golf as a tool to teach social, educational, and life skills to participants. As a result of the success of the program, Dr. Michael Kuchar, superintendent of BPSD, received state-wide recognition by receiving the Innovations in Special Education Award. This recognition has prompted other school districts in New Jersey to adopt the Not Far From Par model to serve autistic children.
- Founded in 1971, The Therapeutic Center at Fox Chase is a residential treatment program for young males with substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. It provides integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment services to encourage boys to stay sober and maintain healthy relationships. As a part of a wellness initiative in physical and mental health, this organization, with the assistance of a USGA programming grant, started its Growing Opportunities Lasting Futures (GOLF) program in 2009. In addition to a 12-week leadership course, boys participate in programming to learn golf and life skills.
- The Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) was founded to introduce adaptive sports and recreation programs to individuals with physical or visual impairments. In 2000, GLASA implemented the Adaptive Golf Program to provide these individuals the opportunity to learn golf and its inherent values.
Finally, the importance and place of inclusive golf has not been lost on golf and industry executives. The value of golf as a viable tool for including people with disabilities into the fabric of their communities has gotten the attention of the following individuals. Watch the following video interviews of these individuals.
Trey Holland- Past President, United States Golf Association
Betsy Clark, Past Vice President of Education and Research for the Ladies Professional Golf Association and President of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf
Carrie Riordan, Director of Information and Public Policy, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA)