Physical disabilities and illness can cause people to withdraw from the activities they loved and discourage others from trying a sport for the first time. Golf is no exception. It’s viewed by many as an elite sport, and people become frustrated by restricted performance or feel pressured to play through quickly.
Given the right environment and support, golf is a great way to build confidence through gradual improvement. This social activity also helps rebuild a sense of community. The repetitive sequences of movement and focus necessary to play the game are great ways to stay active and even improve range of movement.
Jason Faircloth played in the Disabled British Open in 2011 and 2012 with impressive finishes in his flight (sixth in 2011 and runner-up in 2012). After participating in these events, he saw no reason why disabled Americans shouldn’t have the same opportunity.
"Based on the number of Americans with disabilities, the number of golf courses we have in this country, and the popularity of the sport of golf, there is no way we cannot successfully organize competitions across the United States,” said Jason Faircloth, founder of the United States Disabled Golf Association.
He successfully organized the first United States Disabled Open in 2018.
A Brief History of the United States Disabled Open
The USDGA, a 501C3 nonprofit, was founded in 2015 to provide people with physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities an opportunity to showcase their golf abilities.
In 2018, the first-ever United States Disabled Open was conducted by the USDGA at Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. Forty-eight golfers from eight countries competed in this 36-hole championship. Ryan Brendan, an amputee from Nebraska, was the overall champion.
In 2019, the United States Disabled Open was hosted by Independence Golf Club in Richmond, Virginia. The event saw a steep climb in participation over the prior year. Seventy-four golfers represented eight countries in this 36-hole competition. A gentleman with cerebral palsy, Chris Biggens from Alabama, was the overall champion.
Unfortunately, the 2020 event was canceled due to the global pandemic, but they look forward to continuing the tradition in Mesa, Arizona, in 2021.
This event is tremendously meaningful to the players. For player videos and commentary, please visit the USDGA Tournament page.
When is the Next United States Disabled Open?
Pandemic willing, the 2021 United States Disabled Open will be held at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona, on May 16-20. The World Amateur Golf Ranking® includes the event in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disabilities. They hope to top their 2019 attendance record and give past players a chance to reconnect.
The United States Disabled Golf Association mission is as follows:
“We believe that golfers who have disabilities should be given an opportunity to showcase his or her talents in a championship style event. The objective is to bring our own championship to any golfer with a physical, intellectual, and sensory disability. With this design, we will reach golfers who never had the opportunity to compete in a national event. Our rules & regulations are set to provide a fair and competitive competition for all golfers despite what level of disability you may have. Whether you are amputee, blind, cerebral palsy, wounded veterans, short stature, muscular dystrophy, and many others, this event was made for you!!!”
How to Support the USDGA
The USDGA is a 501C3 nonprofit founded in 2015 to provide people with physical, sensory, and intellectual disabilities an opportunity to showcase their abilities in golf. Contributions will be paid directly to the USDGA to further their cause. There are also several volunteer opportunities for those who want to take part in the United States Disabled Open. For more information, visit: http://www.usdga.net/volunteer/