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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Golf cart fee waiver for disabled visitors reinstated at Spokane municipal courses

Tom Ogan, a disabled golfer, tees off at the second hole at Downriver golf course, Thurs., Aug, 24, 2017. Ogan successfully lobbied the city to return a policy excusing disabled golfers from the fee required for use of private carts. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Tom Ogan, a disabled golfer, tees off at the second hole at Downriver golf course, Thurs., Aug, 24, 2017. Ogan successfully lobbied the city to return a policy excusing disabled golfers from the fee required for use of private carts. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Tom Ogan had his paperwork in hand Thursday to become the first Spokane golfer in three seasons to have his fee for using a cart waived.

“I’ve got it all filled out, ready to go right here,” said Ogan, 63, a links enthusiast who learned the game despite being hobbled by polio as a child.

Ogan has been lobbying park officials all winter to reinstate a policy that allowed disabled golfers to use their own motorized carts for free on the city’s four publicly owned courses. On Thursday, the Spokane Park Board agreed to a new version of the policy that requires those seeking forgiveness of the $12 per-round fee to prove they receive Social Security disability benefits.

Cart fees are assessed for golfers who bring their own motorized equipment to courses. The city says the costs cover maintenance of courses caused by cart tracks.

Those who meet the disabled eligibility requirements also receive permission to take their carts into areas of courses where other golfers aren’t permitted, including closer to greens.

The parks department will have the waiver in place by the time courses reopen for the spring. If the weather holds, that could be as early as late next week, Jason Conley, executive officer of Spokane Parks and Recreation, told the Park Board on Thursday.

A previous version of the disabled golfer cart fee waiver was in place from 2012 to 2016, but it required only that an applicant show a placard used for handicapped-accessible parking. That left the system open to manipulation, Conley said.

“We wanted something that would be fair and defendable, and we think we’re there,” he said.

The program will be overseen by the city’s new golf manager, a job that will be resurrected as Spokane golf seeks a reprieve from a 2017 season fraught with weather challenges, Conley said.

“In 2017, we saw one of our lowest all-time number of rounds at around 131,000,” Conley said. “That’s down significantly from 144,000 last year, to two years ago (when) we had 148,500.”

The city is accepting applications for the golf manager position, at an annual salary of between $62,640 and $81,746, through Sunday. Conley said the position has been dormant since at least 2014.

Ogan appeared before both the Spokane City Council and the Spokane Park Board this fall to request a new waiver. He applauded Conley and Leroy Eadie, Spokane’s director of parks and recreation, for coming up with a solution that will allow him to play up to three rounds per week this summer on his fixed disability income, he said.

Ogan said he’s lobbying for a similar policy at Spokane County courses.

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