Golf Up North - Adaptive GolfAs many know I started golfing pretty late in life, I was in my mid 50’s when I played my first round of 9 holes. I immediately was hooked even though I got an 84 for those 9 holes. I was convinced with a little practice I would be a scratch golfer in no time, after all, I was good at sports when I was younger, just how hard would it be knocking a ball into a hole? Learned that golf is not as easy as I thought.

Golf Up North Adaptive & Accessible GolfWhat I also learned was that nobody cared if I got an eagle or triple bogey on a hole. Folks still invited me to golf with them regardless of my skill level. Golf is about more than your score at the end of 18. Golf is one of the few sports that your abilities does not prevent you from playing and enjoying the game with your friends.

Everyone I play with is a much better golfer than me, many with single digit handicaps. I might have high double digits 😊. What is different from basketball or baseball for example is that I am wanted on the “team.” Every single one of them have invited me to join their foursome and some even for local tournaments. My ability does not matter we are all out there to have fun.

Sophia Howard

This brings me to a story my sister shared with me about a young Michigan lady without a right hand that had her heart set on playing golf. She was determined to play the game and adapted her play to accommodate her lack of a hand. Sophia Howard a 15-year-old from Hudsonville, Michigan on the western side of the state has been playing for 5 years and loving every minute of it.

Sophia will be playing at the first USGA 2022 U.S. Adaptive Open at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina this week (July 18-20, 2022). The 96 players will range in age from 15 to 80, with golfers from 20 states and 12 counties. Sophia will be the youngest competitor, 1 of 5 players 20 or under.

The inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open will be 54 hole stoke play format and players must have a WR4GD Pass and a Handicap Index®. Carts will be permitted for all players and caddies. Multiple sets of tees will be utilized.

For more information about the Adaptive Open visit USGA Adaptive Open Fast Facts.

Golf Course Accessibility

Golf Up North Adaptive & Accessible GolfAs I researched about the U.S. Adaptive Open, I learned that many courses are looking at ways to improve accessibility in key areas of a golf course. Course superintendents are discovering the benefits of addressing accessibility on their courses. Accessible designs provide a simpler and more efficient maintenance, helping courses when faced with staffing shortages and rising costs. 

I love that technically golf is accessible to everyone regardless of abilities. BUT golf can be cost prohibitive for many. Club sets start close to a $1000 and rounds range from $35 into the hundreds.

Golf Up North Adaptive & Accessible GolfI get that golf courses are expensive to operate and maintain. Many courses and their members will not want to let just anyone on their course and affect pace of play. I do not have a solution, but has given me an answer to one of my fantasies.

I have joked that if I ever win the lottery, I am buying a golf course and only me and whoever I let play will be allowed. This means I get to golf without folks playing up on me, standing and watching me hit, etc. I am always asked what about all the other hours in the day what will you do with them? Never had an answer, until now. Regardless of abilities, both financial and physical anyone can play for free; clubs will be available to borrow, free balls and tees and everyone can have a blast and learn the game I love. You never know, there may just be another Arnie, Jack, or Tiger out there that we will never know about because of lack of access.