A Challenge to Golf Course Owners
As a golf course owner or manager, you are always expected to look for ways to increase your bottom line and explore opportunities to promote your facility. My question to you is this: have you looked at all types of golfers to reach this goal?
I would like to introduce to you a larger, growing group of golfers that has visited your facility at least once a week for years. This foursome is made up from one family, a grandfather, father, son and daughter. Over time, you noticed the foursome went to three, then two, then one.
One day you asked the daughter what happened to her grandfather, father, and brother. The daughter informed you that her grandfather had a stroke and could not walk that well. Her father had been in an accident and hurt his knee. As for her brother, while on active duty serving our country, he lost his leg.
Like most people, your heart would ache for this family. When asked if there was anything you could do to help, the daughter asked if there was anything you could do to bring them back together on the golf course.
Here is my challenge – look at your facility and see what services you have to offer to provide a golfer who has a disability the opportunity to enjoy a day of golf. Talk to your customers who may need some assistance to see what they would like to have available. Then, figure out how your facility could improve, from the parking lot to the eighteenth hole.
You may already provide most of the things that an individual with a disability would need-based on zoning laws and the ADA (American with Disability Act). Some suggestions may have an expense that you will have to budget for, but most will have little to no cost to you. In all cases, the rewards will be priceless.
In the scenario that I described, all of these individuals have a walking and standing disability. I truly believe that everyone would love to help this family return to the game, and by doing so your facility would increase its revenue. The best thing you could do is to create a relationship with your disabled golfers and see what they need. Encourage them to just visit the clubhouse. With some time, they may start using the practice facilities. One day they may transition to the course.
As managers, you have the ability to make the difference. You may let them use the golf cart around the practice areas for little or no charge. When it comes to the course, you may offer a flag on the cart to designate that the golfer is allowed to leave the path. In most cases, this is all that is needed to provide access and keep pace of play.
Allowing the disabled golfer to get closer to the tee box or greens will not hurt the grass. Educate the golfer about ways to access the course and conditions. In most cases, they will take care of the course better than your regular users.
Here are a few suggestions that you can offer at your facility. Have your instructors offer golf clinics on and off the course for disabled and/or senior golfers. Team up with therapists from local rehabilitation centers or local disabled organizations. This type of networking provides great resources, as well as great marketing opportunities. There are also great organizations that can offer you assistance in finding information about a related disability. Just go online and do a search, typing in the words disability and golf, and you will find some great information. You can also contact us at the United States Golf Managers Association national office and we will get you in contact with individuals who can help.
Ken Kramp is a USGTF contributing writer and long-time Level III USGTF member. Ken is an amputee golfer, having lost his leg to cancer. He has made a significant positive impact on both disabled and non-disabled golfers.