SoloRider: Embracing disabled golfers could increase revenues

World Golf News, October 20, 2006

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Golf could add 400,000 rounds and increase revenues by as much as $60 million by further embracing the disabled golf community, according to SoloRider.

"The potential golf market of mobility-impaired players represents significant incremental rounds and revenues at a time when the industry needs the help on the tee sheet and at the cash register," said Roger Pretekin, founder and president of SoloRider, which manufactures single-rider golf cars designed for disabled players and seniors with limited mobility.

SoloRider projected the economic impact of the disabled community by assuming 1 percent of approximately 20 million disabled Americans would play one to five times a year, bring at least one playing companion each time they played and spend a per-round average of $40 on green fees, golf car rentals and related expenses. "At the most conservative end, that translates to 400,000 rounds and $16 million in revenues. Playing five rounds a year, which is also conservative based on our experience, disabled players and their playing companions would add 2 million rounds and $60 million in revenues," Pretekin said.

If the economic model included seniors with limited mobility - many of whom are leaving the game because of physical or medical reasons - the potential impact would be far greater. "In 2002 retired seniors played 4 million fewer rounds than they did in 2001," Pretekin said, noting that seniors are golf's "best customers." The reason more than half of seniors give for playing less golf is a physical condition that limits their stamina and mobility, he said.

The key to making these projections a reality is for golf to hang out a welcome sign that disabled players can see more clearly.

"Golf is an activity in which many of these men, women and children would love to participate," Pretekin said. "It would be therapeutic and a source of tremendous fun. But they need a small amount of accommodation from the game to feel welcome at the course."

While part of that accommodation might include single-rider golf cars like those his company manufactures, Pretekin said the industry also needs to view disabled players as a demographic group similar to juniors, women, minorities and beginners. "Golf is waking up to the fact that not all of its customers look alike, swing the same or dress in the traditional way they once did. Players with a disability have distinct needs, but their money is just as green," he said.

Established in 1991, Centennial, CO-based SoloRider Management LLC manufactures and distributes the industry's leading single-rider golf car. SoloRider is the only single-rider golf car that meets or exceeds the safety, performance, stability, speed and suspension standards of conventional golf cars. In 2002 SoloRider received the prestigious da Vinci Award from the Engineering Society of Detroit in recognition of innovations that empowered all people, regardless of physical ability. Monroe Berkman, an avid golfer, polio survivor and longtime user of the SoloRider golf car, purchased the company in 2004.