As recreational accessibility tends to be one of the most ignored aspects in our society, with the pandemic exacerbating the issue further, sporting organisations must acknowledge that creating an enjoyable experience for disabled people, is equal in importance to that of meeting build standards set out by legislation. Sport first and foremost exists to be a fun and engaging experience, so it is ultimately the responsibility of sports facilities to not only address barriers that may obstruct disabled golfers from an immersive, stress free game, but prove to disabled people that they are welcome and not disrupting the golfing experience of non-disabled people.
To achieve this, golf clubs must acknowledge the full scope of disabilities; it is simply not enough to install a wheelchair ramp from the entrance to the foyer. From a mobility access perspective, golf clubs must consider the accessibility of their greens, bunkers, restaurants, bars, washrooms, training facilities, course pathways, and car parks. In addition, they must consider neurodiverse individuals with hidden disabilities, such as golfers with auditory, visual or mental disabilities.
Creating accessible golf courses, therefore, begins first with addressing that the range of disabilities out there is very broad. And while there are laws and codes to address architectural accessibility, foresighted golf facility operators can learn how to better accommodate golfers with a disability in a way that addresses their needs directly.
On any golfing range, regardless of size, there are various elements to consider. Such as accessible golf carts, unobstructed paths providing a modest slope for transportation, providing sign language training opportunities for shop staff, producing a tactile map of accessible routes that may include accessible tees, installing hearing loops for people with hearing aids in key areas. Coaches must also be able to communicate with disabled golfers hoping to engage in the sport. The list goes on.
Innovating proposals for gaming schedules should also be considered, such as offering specific times of day for disabled golfers, whereby their experience is prioritised over non-disabled people at a discounted price rate.
Such an experience might seem intrusive or costly, but the hard fact of the matter is that disabled people (of which there are many) harbour immense spending power, and creating experiences tailored to suit their specific needs is pretty much guaranteed to produce a significant financial return, in addition to doing wonders for the public image of your particular brand.
Sometimes the smallest changes can entirely change the quality of a disabled person’s round of golf, such as making starters and marshals aware of the presence of a customer’s “walker” (an individual who will accompany a blind golfer, and assist them in playing the game). This is a minor shift in attitude and the social environment of sport that will entice disabled people to visit your course and, ultimately, spend their money.
If you are looking to make your site accessible to thousands of disabled people, feel free to contact Direct Access and lay out your specific needs so that we can find improvements to your facility that suits your budget. Or alternatively, have a look at our case study detailing our history generating Accessibility for Sports, or browse our Access Consultancy and Audit options to identify specific ways of making an accessible environment for your customers.
We are here to help because, for us, access is personal.
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