Golf Course Management

JAN 2014

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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A golf course that fails to meet the ADA's 2010 Standards can be fned $50,000 for the frst offense and up to $100,000 for additional violations. Photo by GettyImages It seems to us that accommodating the disabled at your golf facility is not only the right thing to do for all the values and the enjoyment that the game of golf brings, but it also makes economic sense. 68 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.14 aging ADA-accessible golf facilities since 1996, as well as assisting golf courses with ADA audits of their facilities over the past four years, we believe that golf courses have been too slow to tap into the disabled golfer market. It is hard to distinguish a reason why. After all, golf is now welcoming different groups — nationalities, minorities and women — but at the same time, in our estimation, golf facilities are still doing a poor job of accommodating the disabled. Considering that the NCA has estimated the combined income of disabled persons to be somewhere over $1 trillion, it seems to us that accommodating the disabled at your golf facility is not only the right thing to do for all the values and the enjoyment that the game of golf brings, but it also makes economic sense. However, from a risk management perspective, by not complying wholeheartedly with the ADA, golf now has a bigger problem on its hands. The possibility of facing litigation for violating a disabled person's civil right to access his or her facility is a real and immediate danger. Back to the beginning The ADA is a complaint-driven law. A disability is defned as a physical or mental issue that impacts one's life functions. Disabled plaintiffs may fle suit if they believe, or know, that they are being discriminated against by a business that can be accessed by the public and where goods or services are being offered. Federal fnes are pretty stiff. For failing to meet the regulations of the 2010 Standards, a golf facility can be fned $50,000 for the frst offense and up to $100,000 for additional violations. We happen to reside and work in California, where over 40 percent of the ADA lawsuits are being fled. A lucrative cottage industry has evolved there since 1992, when the ADA became law along with a state statute regarding disability. Since then, in California alone it is estimated that ADA advocacy attorneys have fled lawsuits claiming over $30 million for their clients. Despite recent legislative efforts to control ADA lawsuits in California, demand letters (asking for money from a defendant in exchange for not fling a disability lawsuit) and fling an excessive number of lawsuits have created a climate in which businesses fear and loathe these lawyers, and possibly take a negative view of the disabled. Meeting the ADA accommodation requirements of federal and state disability regulations calls on golf courses that accommodate the public to provide access by a disabled person to their goods, services and programs in a continuous path of travel beginning in the parking lot, and continuing through the clubhouse, pro shop, restaurant, snack bar, practice facility, golf course(s), weather shelter (where applicable), on-course amenities and, in some cases, swimming pools and sport courts.

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