- Golfer Benefits
Spectators at the U.S. Open this week are sure to notice The Country Club’s sweeping hills and undulating greens, but what the average fan might not think about are the challenges that such a location poses to visitors with physical disabilities.
To ensure that every fan has a chance to enjoy the championship, Mass Golf volunteer Mike Curtin is working as the Disability Services Chairperson for the event. Though it’s his first volunteer assignment after years of playing, Curtin has been committed to long days of helping fans move about the course.
“It presents a few [challenges],” Curtin said. “The topography is very challenging, a lot of hills, side hills, it’s fairly spread out, crosswalks that people have to traverse, sitting and waiting for the fairways to open up so they can get across.”
However, he’s able to employ his in-depth knowledge of the course as a three-year member of The Country Club to help fans navigate all areas of the course.
“It’s a huge help,” Curtin said. “As a member, it’s a lot easier to help direct people where to go and know how to get from point A to point B.”
Curtin’s day out on the course starts at around 5:30 in the morning when he arrives early to make sure that carts are staged for the service’s six-passenger, wheelchair-accessible transportation service, which transports fans to and from Disability Services Headquarters and other pre-determined locations. He’s also responsible for overseeing volunteer operations, including getting volunteers ready in the morning, deploying them to help patrons, preparing them to navigate the course’s routes that can “look like spaghetti on a plate,” and managing shift changes. When he isn’t handling those tasks, he’s helping with dispatch rides, deliveries or mobility assistance for seniors.
While volunteer work can sometimes be a thankless task, Curtin was touched by his experience this week with young man he assisted from the Lee Elder Scholarship Program, an immersive one-week program that brought in 25 diverse youths from under-represented communities to Brookline during the 2022 U.S. Open.
“Interacting with him the past three days, he’s just a remarkable human being,” Curtin said. “Watching the TCC staff assist him, it absolutely made my entire week.”
Curtin is working in tandem with the USGA® to provide disability services for the event. Other services offered by the USGA include reserved, accessible parking spaces for plates with HD/DP license plates, motorized scooters, telecommunications devices for the deaf, and accessible restrooms throughout the grounds.
“It’s important for the USGA to be fully inclusive at our championships and we are proud to ensure accessibility to all fans of the game,” USGA U.S. Open Championships Manager Eric Mills said. “From a competition standpoint, we take pride in the fact that the U.S. Open Championship is open for all players good enough to put the ball in the hole. But from a fan standpoint, we are also proud to open the grounds to anyone who wants to come and enjoy watching the game we all love.”
To learn more about disability services at the U.S. Open, CLICK HERE
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