Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Accessible golf for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Leah M. Cox, MS, CRC, LRT/CTRS, Dan Johnson PhD, LRT/CTRS, Candace Ashton, PhD, LRT/CTRS


Golf is a popular sport played by many people of varying ages. Recently, individuals with disabilities are becoming more interested in this sport with the help of community programs such as Project Golf: Accessible and Inclusive Networks (GAIN). The purpose of this paper is to provide recreation therapy professionals with background information on the game of golf, information about the benefits and barriers common to golf, as well as information on the effectiveness of using golf as a therapeutic treatment intervention. Examples of adaptations for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder are provided as well as recommendations for recreation therapists.


Accessible golf, recreation therapy, recreation, leisure, Autism Spectrum Disorder

Full Text:



Abla AA, Maroon JC, Lochhead R, et al.: Return to golf after spine surgery. J Neurosurg Spine. 2011; 14(1): 23-30.

Sell TC, Abt JP, Lephart SM: Physical activity-related benefits of walking during golf. In Science and Golf V: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. World Scientific Congress of Golf Trust, 2008: 128-132. Available at Accessed February 4, 2013.

Mittelstaedt RD: Accessibility for golfers with disabilities: It’s tee time. Parks Recr. 1997; 32(6): 52-57.

National Golf Foundation. (2012, March 28). Summary of golf participation in the U.S., 2012. Available at Accessed February 4, 2013.

National Alliance for Accessible Golf: Tool kit for golf course owners and operators, October 1, 2010. Available at Accessed December 12, 2012.

National Alliance for Accessible Golf: Accessible golf at a glance, 2011. Available at Accessed December 12, 2012.

Leitner MJ, Leitner SF: Concepts of leisure. In Leitner MJ, Leitner SF (eds.): Leisure enhancement, 4th ed. Urbana, IL: Sagamore Publishing LLC, 2012: 3-16.

Golf Channel: Golf history, 2011. Available at Accessed November 1, 2012.

United States Golf Association: USGA history: 1894 - 1910, 2009. Available at Accessed November 1, 2012.

United States Golf Association: For the good of the game grants, 2009. Available at Accessed February 4, 2013.

National Alliance for Accessible Golf: GAIN, 2011. Available at Accessed February 4, 2013.

Kim K, Compton DM, Robb GM: Increasing the self-efficacy of individuals with a disability through a theory-based curriculum applied to playing golf. Int J Disabil Hum Dev. 2011; 10(2): 151-157.

National Center for Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD): Project GAIN: A model for best practices in inclusive recreation programs, December 12, 2007. Available at Accessed February 4, 2013.

Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), Drane D, Block M: Accessible Golf Making It a Game for All. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2006.

Compton DM, Piatt J, Robb G, et al.: Project GAIN (Golf: Accessible and Inclusive Networks) final report. Far Hills, NJ: USGA Foundation, 2004.

Bandura A: Self-Efficacy in Changing Societies. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Brajsa-Zganec A: Quality of life and leisure activities: How do leisure activities contribute to subjective wellbeing? Soc Indicators Res. 2011; 102(1): 81-91.

Di Russo F, Bultrini A, Brunelli S, et al.: Benefits of sports participation for executive function in disabled athletes. J Neurotrauma. 2010; 27(12): 2309-2319.

McVeigh SA, Hitzig SL, Craven BC: Influence of sport participation on community integration and quality of life: A comparison between sport participants and non-sport participants with spinal cord injury. J Spinal Cord Med. 2009; 32(2): 115-124.

Mitchell T, Barlow CE: Review of the role of exercise in improving quality of life in healthy individuals and in those with chronic diseases. Curr Sports Med Reports. 2011; 10(4): 211-216.

Minoli DM, Smith MT: An exploration of golf and voluntary environmental programmes. J Environ Planning and Manage. 2011; 54(7): 871-889.

Holt NL, Kingsley BC, Tink LN, et al.: Benefits and challenges associated with sport participation by children and parents from low-income families. Psychol Sport Exercise. 2011; 12(5): 490-499.

Johansson M, Hartig T, Staats H: Psychological benefits of walking: Moderation by company and outdoor environment. Appl Psychol Health Well-being. 2011; 3(3): 261-280.

Parkkari J, Natri A, Kannus P, et al.: A controlled trial of the health benefits of regular walking on a golf course. Am J Med. 2000; 109(2): 102-108.

Baio J: Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders—Autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 14 sites, United States, 2008. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2012; 61(SS03): 1-19.

American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

Brewster S, Coleyshaw L: Participation or exclusion? Perspectives of pupils with autistic spectrum disorders on their participation in leisure activities. Br J Learn Disabil. 2010; 39(4): 284-291.

MacKenzie H: Reaching and Teaching the Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Using Learning Preferences and Strengths. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.

Potvin M, Snider LE, Prelock P, et al.: Recreational participation of children with high functioning autism. J Autism Dev Disorders. 2013; 43(2): 445-457.

Solish M, Perry A, Minnes P: Participation of children with and without disabilities in social, recreational, and leisure activities. J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. 2010; 23(3): 226-236.

Bedell G, Coster W, Law M, et al.: Community participation, supports, and barriers of school-age children with and without disabilities. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013; 94(2): 315-323.

Sapon-Shevin M: Playing Favorites: Gifted Education and the Disruption of Community. Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1994.

van der Ploeg HP, van der Beek AJ, van der Woude LH, et al.: Physical activity for people with a disability: A conceptual model. Sports Med. 2004; 34(10): 639-649.

Rimmer JH: Health promotion for people with disabilities: The emerging paradigm shift from disability prevention to prevention of secondary conditions. J Am Phys Ther Assoc. 1999; 79(5): 495-502.

O’Connor J, Reid G: The autism spectrum disorders: Activity selection, assessment, and program organization—part II. Palaestra. 2003; 19(1): 20-27.

Burns B: Teaching children with autism spectrum disorder. Palaestra. 2011; 25(4): 44-45.

McDonough L, Stahmer A, Schreibman L, et al.: Deficits, delays, and distractions: An evaluation of symbolic play and memory in children with autism. Dev Psychopathol. 1997; 9(1): 17-41.

Blankenship K, Minshawi NF: Behavioral therapy with an individual with Asperger’s disorder. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010; 7(8): 38-41.

Hemmeter ML, Ostrosky MM, Corso RM: Preventing and addressing challenging behavior: Common questions and practical strategy. Young Exceptional Children, 2012; 15(2): 32-46.

King G, Law M, Hanna S, et al.: Predictors of the leisure and recreation participation of children with physical disabilities: A structural equation modeling analysis. Children’s Health Care. 2006; 35(3): 209-234.

Sherlock-Shangraw R: Creating inclusive youth sport environments with the universal design for learning: Flexible coaching methods can promote success among all youths, including those with hidden disabilities. J Phys Educ Recr Dance. 2013; 84(2): 40-46.

Conroy MA, Asmus JM, Sellers JA, et al.: The use of an antecedent-based intervention to decrease stereotypic behavior in general education classroom: A case study. Focus Autism Other Dev Disabl. 2005; 20(4): 223-230.

Professional Golf Association: First Swing Professional’s Guide. Palm Beach Gardens, FL: PGA, 2004.

Nadel J, Aouka N, Coulon N, et al.: Yes they can!: An approach to observational learning in low-functioning children with autism. Autism. 2011; 15(4): 421-435.

Baker PH, Murray M, Murray-Slutsky C, et al.: Faces of autism. Interventions That Work. 2010; 68(2): 40-45.

Ganz JB, Simpson RL, Lund EM: The picture exchange communication system (PECS): A promising method for improving communication skills of learners with autism spectrum disorder. Educ Training Autism Dev Disabl. 2012; 47(2): 176-186.

United States Golf Association: Modification to the rules of golf for golfers with disabilities, 2009. Available at Accessed December 12, 2012.

Curtin C, Anderson SE, Must A, et al.: The prevalence of obesity in children with autism: A secondary data analysis using nationally representative data from the national survey of children’s health. BMC Pediatr. 2010; 10(11): 1-5.



  • There are currently no refbacks.