Accessible mini golf courses causing ire

You gotta love the ADA. It’s constantly pissing off a portion of the population at any given time. And the latest enhancement to the ADA that’s getting flack? The regulation that all mini golf courses must be wheelchair accessible.

If you ask me, this is one of the greatest things to happen. I used to love playing mini golf when I could walk, but I haven’t had a chance to play in 19 years. I never thought a mini golf course would ever become accessible, so I just gave up that hobby. But now? I feel like I can reclaim a part of my personality. The ADA is my miracle-maker.

Specifically, this new regulation came in one of my favorite revisions of the ADA – the 2010 “Revision of ADA Standards for Accessible Design.” This awesome update forces recreational facilities to get in on the accessibility act. Mini golf courses, driving ranges, amusement parks, shooting ranges and saunas are all now expected to provide accessible provisions (to a certain degree).

For new mini golf courses for example, at least 50% of the holes need to be accessible. It also stipulates that the slopes on the holes shouldn’t be very steep, with a ground space of 48 inches minimum to 60 inches maximum. This sounds great for us wheelers, but for those who are able-bodied and love to play, they’re worried the holes will no longer be complicated or interesting. And the owners of these courses are not happy too, and for the obvious – monetary reasons.

For able-bodied fanatics of miniature golf, they say these new regulations will ruin the future of mini golf as we know it, making all new courses “boring.” These mini golf aficionados think accessible mini golf holes simply aren’t as difficult because of architectural elements that must be in place to make them accessible. And a owner of a mini golf course in Myrtle Beach is not happy. He says the new regulations will make him remove water elements and steep hills on the course, much to the chagrin of his customers.

And then there are courses like this one (trying to raise $255,000) that face being shut down unless they can meet the new requirements. Should we feel bad for these courses?

I think….if I could walk, this whole thing might piss me off too. How can a compromise be made? Should two mini golf courses be built – an accessible course and an able-bodied course at the same site? Or would this be segregation?

I’m getting tired of people blaming us for ruining fun things. Someone out there should be able to design a challenging mini golf course. Really. And it should not cost a million dollars to build.

Have you played accessible mini golf? Was it fun or too easy?

Read more about the new requirements for recreational facilities

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