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Americans with Disabilities Act

Updated March 16, 2009

Although the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has yet to publish a definitive ruling as to whether accessible golf cars are required at golf facilities, a California judge ruled in 2008 that Marriott Corporation must provide accessible golf cars at its facilities. Moreover, the Department of Defense has issued a regulatory ruling mandating that all military golf courses acquire accessible golf cars.

Golf course owners who want to avoid or minimize legal disputes and serve a portion of the community of individuals with disabilities that may not be able to play golf without an accessible golf car would be well-served to follow these guidelines when serving golfers with disabilities:

  • Be hospitable. Welcome the golfer and orient him or her as you would any valued patron. Also, share with them that their safety is of paramount concern, especially when operating an accessible golf car. Operating procedures vary significantly from one model to another, and manufacturers design cars with a variety of functions. Be sure to explain the unique features of your car.
  • Highlight any specific areas on the course that may be deemed unsafe due to extreme slope or conditions that could affect the stability of an accessible golf car. Print the information on a form for the golfer to sign and date, then keep a copy on file.
  • Contact your insurance provider to ensure that any pooling and/or accessible golf car you utilize is covered for liability. (Note: Pooling accessible golf cars among golf courses has increased the number of golf courses that have a car for individuals who request them.)
  • Price fees analogously. Do not charge more or less for green and cart fees to individuals with disabilities than are charged to those without disabilities.

Additional best practices and resources will be soon posted on the Web sites of National Alliance for Accessible Golf (www.accessgolf.org) and the NGCOA (www.ngcoa.org), and at www.resourcecenter.usga.org.

For more information, also contact Mike Tinkey, NGCOA Deputy CEO, at mtinkey@ngcoa.org or (843) 881-9956, ext. 206.


Updated July 25, 2008

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990, is a milestone in America's commitment to full and equal opportunity for all of its citizens. The NGCOA shares the American ideals for equal access as well as those that support a free market system.

Current Situation 
On Friday, May 30, 2008, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey signed proposed regulations to revise the Department’s ADA regulations, including its ADA Standards for Accessible Design. On Tuesday, June 17, 2008, the proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register. The proposed regulations consist of a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the ADA regulation for State and local governments, a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the ADA regulation for public accommodations and commercial facilities, a Regulatory Impact Analysis, and two supporting appendices.

The proposed changes are being adopted from the Americans with Disabilities Act and Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines (2004 ADAAG), which were published by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) on July 23, 2004.

What This Means to You
The DOJ seeks comments from owners and operators of golf courses by August 18, 2008. Electronic.  Submit to http://www.regulations.gov. Please include CRT Docket No. 106 in the subject box. You must include your full name and physical mailing address.

Prior to its adoption by the DOJ, the 2004 ADAAG has no legal effect on the public until the DOJ issues a final rule adopting the revised ADA Standards (proposed standards).

Accessible Golf Cars
The DOJ has decided to propose no new regulations specific to accessible golf cars at this time.   

The Change Process
ADA requirements may change as regulations are modified to improve access or to provide more detailed guidance for entities covered by the ADA.  When new requirements are proposed, a formal procedure is used which calls for public comment and agency review before the requirement is finalized.  Changes in existing requirements or new requirements are first issued as a proposed rule and published in the Federal Register.  Public comments, which are received by mail and over the Internet, are reviewed by the Department before a proposed Final Rule is published.  When the Final Rule is published, new requirements are established as detailed in the Final Rule.

Since 2004
In September 2004, the Department issued an Advanced Notice of Public Rulemaking (ANPRM) proposing to review the ADA Design Standards for titles II and III.  The question posed to golf course owners and operators was, "To what extent should golf courses be required to make accessible golf cars or single rider golf cars available to persons with disabilities."

The NGCOA responded, as well as many members. In fact, the DOJ received more than 900 comments on the ANPRM.

BACKGROUND

NGCOA Letter to Department of Justice
Americans with Disabilities Act
ADA Accessibility Guidelines

MEMBER RESOURCES

Accessibility Toolkit for Course Owners
Model Policy for Golf Car Use by Individuals with Disabilities Covered by the ADA
Disabled Dilemma, Golf Business magazine, August 2005
Accessibility Answers:, Golf Course Management - March 1999
Add Your Course to USGA’s Accessible Course Database
Promoting Opportunities for People with Disabilities to Play Golf 

LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION

Proposed New Regulations
Federal Court Ruling on Golf Accessibility
Dept of Justice ADA Home Page
National Park Service Handbook for Accessibility 

RELATED LINKS

National Center on Accessibility
Modification to Rules of Golf for Golfers with Disabilities
USGA Resource Center for Individuals with Disabilities


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