October 25, 2002 — In a wheelchair he designed himself, Tom Houston regularly hits a golf ball 250 yards at the driving range. Ogden’s Ron Smith plays with one arm and is passionate about the game. Houston, Smith and several other golfers with a variety of disabilities will be on hand Oct. 30 when the University of Utah College of Health introduces a project for golfers with disabilities to the Salt Lake community.
Project GAIN (Golf: Accessible and Inclusive Networks) is a program of the National Alliance for Accessible Golf that uses golf to encourage people with disabilities to get involved in their communities. Eight other American cities will begin the program during the next two years.
The project was jointly developed by David M. Compton, Ed.D., M.P.H., Project GAIN director and professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the U College of Health; Gary Robb, Indiana University, National Center on Accessibility; and Larry Allen, Clemson University.
Individuals who have more severe disabilities will be in the first group of 25 to participate in part one of the three-part curriculum. Those with all levels of ability or disability may participate in the free biweekly instructional and inclusion program; a background in golf is not required. An equal number of able-bodied parents, spouses, siblings and/or mentors will participate in the golf instruction and inclusion classes taught by instructors from the Utah section, Professional Golf Association (PGA) and Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Also assisting will be specialists such as physical and recreation therapists, special physical educators and counselors.
“The program is not just to improve golf skills, but a way that people with disabilities can increase their self-confidence and participate in community life,” Compton said. “We hope the mentors and those with disabilities will form a golf partnership that will last a lifetime.”
At Wednesday’s kick-off, Project GAIN organizers and participants will demonstrate equipment and other devices that are used by golfers with disabilities. The event is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. at Golf In The Round, 600 W. 3300 South.
Funded by the United States Golf Association Foundation, the PGA of America, the PGA Tour, and the LPGA, Project GAIN is free of charge and open to all disabled and able-bodied persons interested in learning the game of golf.