Earlier today I did a Google search for accessible golf courses and got a little over 63 million results. One of the results at the top of the page was for Mobility Golf. On their website you can find out what golf courses have accessible golf carts available to use. Since I live in Missouri I clicked on it to see how many courses in this state have a Solorider golf cart (or something similar). Unfortunately only 14 courses are listed. Upon looking at those 14 I saw three of them that I know do not have a cart any longer. What might be even more troubling than that is looking at the results for California (68 courses) and Florida (67 courses). Why is this so troubling? According to United State census information, roughly 56.7 million people, or approximately 19% of the population, have a disability. Because of improvements in the medical care, that number will likely continue to grow.
I fully realize and understand that not all of these approximately 56.7 million people living with a disability require special accessibility to get around a golf course. However for those that do, there are very limited options available to them. Most of the results I got on my Google search were centered around recent changes to ADA requirements that focus on accessibility for miniature golf courses. As has been well documented on this blog, every week I see the healing powers of golf. Children (and adults alike) heal through play. Laughter and smiles are powerful medication that can be brought on by watching a putt drop in or a tee shot go slightly farther and straighter than the last one. For those not convinced watch these short videos:
Stories like these are less common than what they should be. Today in the United States there are approximately 3 million medically complex children. The simple definition of medically complex is having life-threatening conditions that affect 2 or more organ systems. As mentioned above, thanks to improvements in medical care, many of these children are living longer and more productive lives than in the very recent past. In fact, doctors, scientists, and researchers expect the number of medically complex children to double within the next decade. While being medically complex does not automatically mean having a disability, many of the children still need some help getting to and around a golf course while they heal. After watching the videos above, it should be obvious that golf can be a vital part of their healing process if access to the game is available.
Providing this access is a lot more feasible than what many people believe. Solorider golf carts are not an absolute necessity nor are adapted golf clubs. However an open mind and an open heart are absolute necessities. You do not need special training or equipment to use golf as a healing tool. What you do need is the compassion and passion to want to help others learn to play and enjoy the game while they are healing physically, mentally, and emotionally. For those who want more information I encourage you to contact me via the e-mail address at the top of the page. Trust me when I tell you that there is no greater high than hearing the laughter and seeing the smile on the face of a child after they hit a golf ball on the sweet spot.