Time to hit the links! An ever-popular sport for kids and adults of all ages, golf can also be enjoyed by both paraplegics and quadriplegics alike. The invention some 20 years ago of specialized golf wheelchairs – as well as ADA regulations that ensure adaptive equipment is permitted on golf courses – has opened up the sport to those with SCI, and it’s taken off in more recent years with countless veterans eager for some fairway fun. Extra equipment, of course, is required for quadriplegic players, but even those without arm movement can still play (details below.)
Look for a list of adaptive golf organizations throughout the US at the end of this article. And take advantage of the many free opportunities this summer to give golf a try. A list of ADA-friendly courses is posted below, too.
Golf Wheelchairs Carts
Both paraplegics and quadriplegics (that can grip a golf club) require much of the same equipment to play adaptive golf. A golf wheelchair golf cart is a must, and several companies make them. One of the most well known is the Solorider, a single-seat golf cart with a seat that swings to the side, allowing the player to golf right from the cart. With the seat turned outward and facing the course, the golfer can swing unimpeded.
The carts are about three-quarters the size of a regular power cart, and have wide, smooth tires that allow them to negotiate both greens and sand traps without damaging the course. A Solorider costs roughly $9,200.
Another option is the Paramobile. This golf wheelchair cart actually helps players stand by using leg locking/bracing technology. Its cutting-edge design drives the cost of this machine up to $31,000. Unlike standard wheelchairs, this golf mobility device has tires that won’t leave marks or indentations on the greens thanks to its wide smooth wheels.
Note: Most courses in the U.S. do not offer golf wheelchairs. Players generally have to bring their own or be lucky enough to find a local course with a wheelchair cart available. Search Mobility Golf to find out if there is an accessible wheelchair golf cart in your area at this link.
How Paraplegics Play
Paraplegics do not need much equipment to play adaptive golf. In fact, other than a specialized golf mobility device, as well as proper straps around their waist and legs for safety and stability, many paraplegics don’t need anything else to play. There are, however, shorter golf clubs available for those with limited upper body strength. There’s also adaptive devices that allow players to tee up the ball without bending over. Check it out here.
How Quadriplegics Play
For quadriplegics with lower-level injuries to play adapted golf, they need specialized gloves (ActiveHands) to hold the clubs, chest strap to keep them secure and shortened clubs if preferred (see links below for golf club information).
Golf for High-Level Quads: Slingshot Golf
For those with limited arm movement, Slingshot Golf (invented by SPINALpedia’s founder) is a super competitive and fun option for those who still wanting to get out on the links. This sport is different in that the player uses a slingshot with the assistance of an able-bodied caregiver and/or friend (a.k.a. Caddy) to launch the ball until on the green. For a given shot, a player directs his or her Caddy of their desired line, height and power.
Once on the green, a player uses the Pendulum Putting Device to get the ball in the hole. This device is a frame structure with a rotating crossbar that attaches to a putter. The device is calibrated using a protractor mounted on the putter shaft. Each degree correlates to a different distance ranging from 1 foot to 120 feet.
Slingshot golf is very much like playing a live video game. The player uses different controllers to hit a specific shot and on the plus side there is very little human error. For full details on the sport, click here.
For rules to slingshot golf, visit this link.
While golf is far from inexpensive or easy to do in your backyard, it’s one of the world’s most epic sports and every wheelchair-user should give it a go. Beautiful, peaceful, serene and a sport you can play with AB-players and disabled players alike, you can’t go wrong with adaptive golf.
Have you tried adaptive golf? What tips did we miss?
Rules & Equipment
Adaptive Golf Organizations
Adaptive Golf Videos