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ADA Golf Course Standards to Take Effect January 31, 2013

February 15th, 2013

Please Note: Private Clubs are exempt from the following standards; however when any public event is held or outside guests are involved it becomes a public accommodation.   Public access facilities will need to be aware of the regulations set forth by the following standards.

The U.S. Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act creating the ADA Access Board to recommend standards of access for persons with a disability to golf courses. The guidelines were formalized and sent to the Department of Justice for enforcement purposes.  Adoption of the guidelines by the Department of Justice was made in April 2012.  In January 2013, regulations concerning swimming pools were added.  These standards have not been challenged in a court of law as of now, but it may be expected that a body of law may follow as courses are cited and prosecuted.

Generally speaking, the ADA requires golf courses to meet specific standards.  All courses should insure that they are in compliance with accessibility.

The Department of Justice requirements include:

  • A connected pathway from the parking lot, bag drop, clubhouse, pro shop, practice facilities, through the golf course, the toilet(s) and weather facilities
  • A pathway at least 48” wide
  • At least 1 practice station or 5% of the stations whichever is more
  • At least 1 accessible entrance onto each putting green
  • Access to a teeing ground on each hole (does not have to be forward tee)
  • No requirement for bunker access at this time

All facilities should conduct access studies and determine what is and what is not in compliance with the law. This includes a review of physical structure compliance in regards to 1991 standards and the new 2010 standards. Classifications should be made as to each non-compliant condition and then a determination made between mandatory compliance and those subject to the “readily achievable” standard. For those determined not to be readily achievable, the facility should be prepared to defend this position on a cost/available resource basis.  It should be noted that the DOJ looks at the resources of the entire entity (that is a parent company that owns multiple properties would be looked at for total assets, not just the golf course).

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