The products shown in this guide are only intended to serve as examples to illustrate the accessibility guidelines, and are not intended as endorsements of the products. Other products may be available. The Access Board does not evaluate or certify products for compliance with the accessibility guidelines. Users are advised to obtain and review product specifications for compliance with the accessibility guidelines.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA requires that newly constructed and altered state and local government facilities, places of public accommodation, and commercial facilities be readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) is the standard applied to buildings and facilities. Recreational facilities, including golf courses, are among the facilities required to comply with the ADA.
The Access Board issued accessibility guidelines for newly constructed and altered recreation facilities in 2002. The recreation facility guidelines are a supplement to ADAAG. As a supplement, they must be used in conjunction with ADAAG. References to ADAAG are mentioned throughout this summary. Once these guidelines are adopted by the Department of Justice (DOJ), all newly designed, constructed and altered recreation facilities covered by the ADA will be required to comply.
The recreation facility guidelines cover the following facilities and elements:
This guide is intended to help designers and operators in using the accessibility guidelines for golf courses. These guidelines establish minimum accessibility requirements for newly designed or newly constructed and altered golf courses. This guide is not a collection of golf course designs. Rather, it provides specifications for elements within a golf course to create a general level of usability for individuals with disabilities. Emphasis is placed on ensuring that individuals with disabilities are generally able to access the golf course and use a variety of elements. Designers and operators are encouraged to exceed the guidelines where possible to provide increased accessibility and opportunities. Incorporating accessibility into the design of a golf course should begin early in the planning process with careful consideration to the layout of the course, golf car paths, and other circulation paths.
The recreation facility guidelines were developed with significant public participation. In 1993, the Access Board established an advisory committee of 27 members to recommend accessibility guidelines for recreation facilities. The Recreation Access Advisory Committee represented the following groups and associations:
The public was given an opportunity to comment on the recommended accessibility guidelines, and the Access Board made changes to the recommended guidelines based on the public comments. A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the Federal Register in July 1999, followed by a five-month public comment period. Further input from the public was sought in July 2000 when the Access Board published a draft final rule soliciting comment. A final rule was published in September 2002.
"Whenever any barrier stands between you and the full rights and dignity of citizenship, we must work to remove it, in the name of simple decency and justice. The promise of the ADA...has enabled people with disabilities to enjoy much greater access to a wide range of affordable travel, recreational opportunities and life-enriching services."
The recreation facility guidelines described in this guide focus on newly designed or newly constructed and altered golf courses and driving ranges. Other provisions contained in ADAAG address elements commonly found at a golf course, such as accessible vehicle parking spaces, exterior accessible routes, and toilet and bathing facilities. ADAAG addresses only the built environment (structures and grounds). The guidelines do not address operational issues. Questions regarding operational issues should be directed to the Department of Justice, 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).
Accessible routes are continuous, unobstructed paths connecting all accessible elements and spaces of a building or facility on golf courses. The accessible route must comply with ADAAG provisions for location, width (minimum of 36 inches), passing space, head room, surface, slope (maximum of 1:12 or 8.33%), changes in level, doors, egress, and areas of rescue assistance, unless modified by specific provisions outlined in this guide.
Second, requiring an accessible route throughout a course could alter the slopes within some courses and alter the nature of the sport by eliminating some of the challenge of the game. Therefore, a golf car passage may be substituted for an accessible route within the boundary of a golf course. A golf car passage is a continuous passage on which a motorized golf car can operate. While a golf car passage must be usable by golf cars, it does not necessarily need to have a prepared surface and may be part of a golf car path.
The golf car passage could be located on areas such as fairways, greens, and teeing surfaces. A golf car passage can be substituted for all or part of the accessible route connecting elements within the boundary of the course and must be a minimum of 48 inches in width.
A golf car passage may also be substituted for an accessible route outside the boundary of the golf course when connecting certain elements. This is limited to the golf car rental area, bag drop areas, practice putting greens, accessible practice teeing grounds, course toilet rooms, and course weather shelters.
Accessible Route Guidelines
The "teeing ground" is the starting place for a hole of golf. A rectangular area usually two club-lengths in depth, the teeing ground’s borders are defined by the outside limits of two “tee-markers.” The design and construction of new teeing grounds or the alteration of an existing teeing area must allow golf cars to enter and exit within these limits.
Each putting green must be designed and constructed so that a golf car can enter and exit the green. The green must be connected by a golf car passage so that a golf car can reach the green.
Course weather shelters must be designed and constructed to allow a golf car to enter and exit, and have a clear floor or ground space of 60 inches by 96 inches minimum. This space will allow a golf car to be driven directly into a weather shelter.
Both stand-alone driving ranges and driving ranges adjacent to a golf course that provide teeing stations or practice teeing grounds must comply with the following:
In recent years, single rider adaptive golf cars have been used to increase access for persons with disabilities on golf courses. Questions have arisen concerning their use. The Access Board develops and maintains accessibility guidelines for the built environment. It is outside the jurisdiction of the Access Board to address operational issues such as the use of these cars. Operators should contact the Department of Justice at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) regarding issues relating to the use and operation of adaptive golf cars.;
ADAAG also requires temporary facilities such as bleachers for tournaments, assembly seating areas, portable toilet facilities, concessions, and all other available amenities to provide access. Access to temporary facilities on a golf course may be achieved through either an accessible route or golf car passage. Facilities hosting tournaments or competitions must comply with all the other requirements of the ADA, including the general obligation to provide an equal opportunity to individuals with disabilities to enjoy the services provided.
Technical assistance on the guidelines for golf courses is available from the Access Board at (800)-872-2253 (voice), (800)-993-2822 (TTY) or firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail).
This information has been developed and reviewed in accordance with the Access Board’s information quality guidelines.