The U.S. Adaptive Open, played in June at North Carolina’s Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, is open to golfers with disabilities. These include arm impairment, leg impairment, multiple-limb amputee, vision impairment, intellectual impairment, neurological impairment, seated players and short stature. When the dust settled, Kim Moore and Simon Lee were the victors in the inaugural event. (An extensive article on the championship can be found on the USGA website at this link).
SDM caught up with Julia Pine, the USGA’s Director, Championship Communications, to discuss the newest USGA championship.
Sports Destination Management: This is the first year for the U.S. Adaptive Open. How long has it been in the works?
Julia Pine: The USGA has been involved with adaptive programs for a number of years but about seven or eight years ago, we started talking about hosting an event just for adaptive golfers.
SDM: How did you decide on the classifications?
Pine: We did a lot of research and talked with the adaptive golf community. What we really wanted to do was showcase the best golfers in the world. We also wanted to show people with disabilities that this is not just an option but an option at a competitive level.
SDM: How many golfers did you get for your first year?
Pine: We had 96 golfers and every story from every person inspired us. We actually had 299 people register but we could only take about a third of those.
SDM: Will future events be bigger?
Pine: We’re leaving that open for now. We know this has the potential to grow.
SDM: Has the reception been good?
Pine: It has. There was a lot of national attention from the media, the Golf Channel covered it – the community really did embrace it. Other golfers, like Michelle Wie and Tiger Woods, tweeted about it. We had spectators come out, and we hosted an adaptive golf clinic.
SDM: What brought you to Pinehurst?
Pine: The host site needed to have certain qualifications; it had to be able to accommodate different disabilities. We were looking for consistently flat golf course paths. This is the only championship where people tee off from different distances. We started looking around and Pinehurst raised their hand and said they wanted to be involved.
SDM: Will you stay there?
Pine: We’ll be making it an annual event and keeping it at Pinehurst. We feel like there’s still so much for us to learn. I think we’re still on a high from it.