238 and 1006 Golf Facilities
Accessible Route. Sections 206.2.15, 1006.2, and 1006.3 of the 2010 Standards require an accessible route to connect all accessible elements within the boundary of the golf course and, in addition, to connect golf car rental areas, bag drop areas, teeing grounds, putting greens, and weather shelters. An accessible route also is required to connect any practice putting greens, practice teeing grounds, and teeing stations at driving ranges that are required to be accessible. An exception permits the accessible route requirements to be met, within the boundaries of the golf course, by providing a "golf car passage" (the path typically used by golf cars) if specifications for width and curb cuts are met.
Most commenters expressed the general viewpoint that nearly all golf courses provide golf cars and have either well-defined paths or permit the cars to drive on the course where paths are not present, and thus meet the accessible route requirement.
The Department received many comments requesting clarification of the term "golf car passage." Some commenters recommended additional regulatory language specifying that an exception from a pedestrian route requirement should be allowed only when a golf car passage provides unobstructed access onto the teeing ground, putting green, or other accessible element of the course so that an accessible golf car can have full access to those elements. These commenters cautioned that full and equal access would not be provided if a golfer were required to navigate a steep slope up or down a hill or a flight of stairs in order to get to the teeing ground, putting green, or other accessible element of the course.
Conversely, another commenter requesting clarification of the term "golf car passage" argued that golf courses typically do not provide golf car paths or pedestrian paths up to actual tee grounds or greens, many of which are higher or lower than the car path. This commenter argued that if golf car passages were required to extend onto teeing grounds and greens in order to qualify for an exception, then some golf courses would have to substantially regrade teeing grounds and greens at a high cost.
Some commenters argued that older golf courses, small nine-hole courses, and executive courses that do not have golf car paths would be unable to comply with the accessible route requirements because of the excessive cost involved. A commenter noted that, for those older courses that have not yet created an accessible pedestrian route or golf car passage, the costs and impacts to do so should be considered.
A commenter argued that an accessible route should not be required where natural terrain makes it infeasible to create an accessible route. Some commenters cautioned that the 2010 Standards would jeopardize the integrity of golf course designs that utilize natural terrain elements and elevation changes to set up shots and create challenging golf holes.
The Department has given careful consideration to the comments and has decided to adopt the 2010 Standards requiring that at least one accessible route connect accessible elements and spaces within the boundary of the golf course including teeing grounds, putting greens, and weather shelters, with an exception provided that golf car passages shall be permitted to be used for all or part of required accessible routes. In response to requests for clarification of the term "golf car passage," the Department points out that golf car passage is merely a pathway on which a motorized golf car can operate and includes identified or paved paths, teeing grounds, fairways, putting greens, and other areas of the course. Golf cars cannot traverse steps and exceedingly steep slopes. A nine-hole golf course or an executive golf course that lacks an identified golf car path but provides golf car passage to teeing grounds, putting greens, and other elements throughout the course may utilize the exception for all or part of the accessible pedestrian route. The exception in section 206.2.15 of the 2010 Standards does not exempt golf courses from their obligation to provide access to necessary elements of the golf course; rather, the exception allows a golf course to use a golf car passage for part or all of the accessible pedestrian route to ensure that persons with mobility disabilities can fully and equally participate in the recreational activity of playing golf.
Accessible Teeing Grounds, Putting Greens, and Weather Shelters. Sections 238.2 and 1006.4 of the 2010 Standards require that golf cars be able to enter and exit each putting green and weather shelter. Where two teeing grounds are provided, the forward teeing ground is required to be accessible (golf car can enter and exit). Where three or more teeing grounds are provided, at least two, including the forward teeing ground, must be accessible.
A commenter supported requirements for teeing grounds, particularly requirements for accessible teeing grounds, noting that accessible teeing grounds are essential to the full and equal enjoyment of the golfing experience.
A commenter recommended that existing golf courses be required to provide access to only one teeing ground per hole. The majority of commenters reported that most public and private golf courses already provide golf car passage to teeing grounds and greens. The Department has decided that it is reasonable to maintain the requirement. The 2010 Standards provide an exception for existing golf courses with three or more teeing grounds not to provide golf car passage to the forward teeing ground where terrain makes such passage infeasible.
Section 1006.3.2 of the 2010 Standards requires that where curbs or other constructed barriers prevent golf cars from entering a fairway, openings 60 inches wide minimum shall be provided at intervals not to exceed 75 yards.
A commenter disagreed with the requirement that openings 60 inches wide minimum be installed at least every 75 yards, arguing that a maximum spacing of 75 yards may not allow enough flexibility for terrain and hazard placements. To resolve this problem, the commenter recommended that the standards be modified to require that each golf car passage include one 60-inch wide opening for an accessible golf car to reach the tee, and that one opening be provided where necessary for an accessible golf car to reach a green. The requirement for openings where curbs or other constructed barriers may otherwise prevent golf cars from entering a fairway allows the distance between openings to be less than every 75 yards. Therefore, the Department believes that the language in section 1006.3.2 of the 2010 Standards allows appropriate flexibility. Where a paved path with curbs or other constructed barrier exists, the Department believes that it is essential that openings be provided to enable golf car passages to access teeing grounds, fairways and putting greens, and other required elements. Golf car passage is not restricted to a paved path with curbs. Golf car passage also includes fairways, teeing grounds, putting greens, and other areas on which golf cars operate.
Accessible Practice Putting Greens, Practice Teeing Grounds, and Teeing Stations at Driving Ranges. Section 238.3 of the 2010 Standards requires that five percent (5%) but at least one of each of practice putting greens, practice teeing grounds, and teeing stations at driving ranges must permit golf cars to enter and exit.
238.1 General. Golf facilities shall comply with 238.
238.2 Golf Courses. Golf courses shall comply with 238.2.
238.2.1 Teeing Grounds. Where one teeing ground is provided for a hole, the teeing ground shall be designed and constructed so that a golf car can enter and exit the teeing ground. Where two teeing grounds are provided for a hole, the forward teeing ground shall be designed and constructed so that a golf car can enter and exit the teeing ground. Where three or more teeing grounds are provided for a hole, at least two teeing grounds, including the forward teeing ground, shall be designed and constructed so that a golf car can enter and exit each teeing ground.
EXCEPTION: In existing golf courses, the forward teeing ground shall not be required to be one of the teeing grounds on a hole designed and constructed so that a golf car can enter and exit the teeing ground where compliance is not feasible due to terrain.
238.2.2 Putting Greens. Putting greens shall be designed and constructed so that a golf car can enter and exit the putting green.
238.2.3 Weather Shelters. Where provided, weather shelters shall be designed and constructed so that a golf car can enter and exit the weather shelter and shall comply with 1006.4.
238.3 Practice Putting Greens, Practice Teeing Grounds, and Teeing Stations at Driving Ranges. At least 5 percent, but no fewer than one, of practice putting greens, practice teeing grounds, and teeing stations at driving ranges shall be designed and constructed so that a golf car can enter and exit the practice putting greens, practice teeing grounds, and teeing stations at driving ranges.