Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on an international sample of golfers with disabilities

Rose Darcy, Christopher Lewis, Cameron Fausett, Alexander Neuville, Tony Bennett, Prakash Jayabalan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Participation in adaptive sports can mitigate the risk for obesity and social isolation/loneliness in individuals with disabilities (IWDs). The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and related changes in physical activity exacerbated existing barriers to participation in adaptive sports. There is limited literature assessing the potentially disproportionate effect of pandemic-related changes to physical activity in IWDs. Objective: To determine how golf benefits IWDs and understand the effect of changes to golfing habits during the pandemic. Design: A survey was distributed to all registered players (n = 1759) of the European Disabled Golf Association (April 2021). It assessed participants' demographic information (age, sex, race/ethnicity, nationality, impairment, golf handicap), golf habits before/after the pandemic, and perceived impact of golf and COVID-19-related golf restrictions to physical/mental health and quality of life (QoL). Setting: European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA) worldwide database. Patients: Responses were received from 171 IWDs representing 24 countries. Age 18 years or older and registration with EDGA were required for inclusion. Interventions: Survey. Outcomes: Self-reported golfing habits, mental/physical health, and QoL. Results: Mean participant age was 51.4 ± 12.9 years. Most respondents were amputees (41.5%) or had neurological diagnoses (33.9%). Pre-pandemic, 95% of respondents indicated that golf provided an opportunity to socialize, and most participants reported that golf positively affected physical/mental health and QoL. During the pandemic, more than 20% of participants reported golfing with fewer partners and 24.6% of participants reported playing fewer rounds per month (p <.001 for both); these findings were consistent across geographical region, ethnicity, and type of disability. Most participants (68.4%) perceived that their ability to golf had been impacted by COVID-19 and that these changes negatively affected their mental/physical health and QoL. Conclusions: Golf benefits the physical/mental health and QoL of IWDs internationally. Changes to golfing habits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected these individuals. This highlights the need to create opportunities for physical activity engagement and socialization among adaptive athletes during a global pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPM and R
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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