The city-owned Haymaker golf course will have at least one special cart designed to assist golfers with disabilities when it opens in May.
Course Superintendent Bill Whelihan said the adaptive golf carts allow wheelchair users to enjoy the sport but are also a benefit to anyone with a temporary disability. People who have had recent knee or hip replacements also will enjoy the carts, Whelihan predicted.
Haymaker already meets the law when it comes to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Whelihan said, but city officials want to take the municipal golf course to the next level of accessibility.
Whelihan has applied for a grant from the USGA in hopes of obtaining funding for one cart. At the same time, the city is seeking proposals from manufacturers and plans to purchase one of the carts in time for this spring.
"We will have at least one, and possibly two of them by our scheduled opening date of May 1," Whelihan said.
The typical cost of an adaptive cart is $7,500 compared with $5,500 for a standard golf cart. The adaptive carts rely entirely on hand controls that are similar to those on a motorcycle, Whelihan said.
Adaptive carts are built for a single user -- they don't carry passengers. In addition to hand controls, the most important design feature is the seat.
Once the driver approaches the ball and brings the cart to a halt, it will be possible to swing the cart's seat into position to address the ball from a sitting position. The seat swings through a full 360 degrees. It also can be raised and lowered to allow the golfer to get proper arm extension.
Steamboat's Craig Kennedy, who uses a wheelchair, said he is looking forward to golfing with one of the carts.
Kennedy predicted that the arrival of one or two adaptive carts will elevate Haymaker's stature.
"I went on a vacation to Miami and called all around and couldn't find a course with an adaptive cart," Kennedy said. "There's nowhere I've found where a town has taken the initiative to get a cart."
The carts will be allowed access to the entire course, including the greens, Whelihan said.
The carts will not be free to users -- people will have to rent them just like any other cart. Whelihan has already contacted other golf courses in the valley to make them available with sufficient notice.