New opportunities in Golf for players with intellectual impairment

In 2019 Virtus: World Intellectual Impairment Sport established a partnership with EDGA, a European-based international organization that promotes golf for players with disabilities through their “WR4GD” and “Access” Pass initiative. Golf is one of the most popular participation sports worldwide, and the aim of this collaboration to increase both the number of players and the competitive opportunities available. While players with physical impairment apply directly to EDGA for a pass, athletes with intellectual impairment apply for Virtus Eligibility through their Virtus Member Country organization — here in the US that’s us! Athletes Without Limits. Athletes can apply directly to EDGA for an Access pass for EDGA-badged events, but require International Level Virtus Eligibility to obtain a World Ranking WR4GD Pass. Here in the US we are working closely with the United States Golf Association (USGA) and Special Olympics National to help guide U.S. players with intellectual impairment through the eligibility pathway and to develop opportunities.

Upcoming EDGA Events:
View the EDGA International Event Calendar
EDGA events may be open to athletes in three Virtus Eligibility Groups depending on event:
II-1 Intellectual Disability (IQ 75 or lower)
II-2 ID w/Additional Impairment/Down Syndrome
II-3-High Functioning Autism (IQ of 76 or higher)

Upcoming USGA Events:
USGA events are open to athletes in Virtus II1 Group for Intellectual Disability (IQ 75 or lower)
July 18-20, 2022 1st U.S. Adaptive Open
(registration closed May 4, 2022)
July 17-19, 2023 2nd U.S. Adaptive Open
(Registration opens Feb 27, 2023 – interested athletes can apply to Athletes Without Limits to complete Virtus eligibility described below)

U.S. Adaptive Open Championships

“The USGA has established the U.S. Adaptive Open Championship, a new national championship that will showcase the world’s best golfers with disabilities. The inaugural competition will be conducted on Course No. 6 at historic Pinehurst Resort & Country Club on July 18-20, 2022. The 2nd U.S. Adaptive Open will also be held on Pinehurst No. 6, and will be conducted from July 17-19, 2023…. The championship will be contested over 54 holes of stroke play on Pinehurst No. 6. It is open to males and females, professionals and amateurs, with either physical impairment, sensory impairment (vision), or intellectual impairment, who have a WR4GD Pass as well as an authorized World Handicap System (WHS) Handicap Index®.”  (read the full announcement on the USGA website)

Steps to enter as player with intellectual impairment
(See also FAQ at the bottom of this page).

  1. APPLY FOR VIRTUS ELIGIBILITY (Through Athletes Without Limits):
    To be eligible to compete in the U.S. Adaptive Open Championships, athletes must meet the Virtus-II1 criteria for Intellectual Disability (IQ 75 or lower, Significant Limitations in Adaptive Behavior, and onset by Age 18) and provide the documentation listed below when they submit their Virtus International Level Eligibility Application to Athletes Without Limits:
    a. Full scale IQ score of 75 or lower on a WAIS, WISC or Stanford Binet given within the last 5 years (provide psychologists report and summary of scores).
    b. At least one domain score of 70 or lower (or overall score of 70 or lower) on a Vineland, ABAS, DABS or AAMR Adaptive Behavior Assessment given within the last 5 years (provide psychologists report and a summary of scores)
    c. Provide report that references IQ score or other evidence that disability was present before age 18
    d. Provide Headshot
    e. Provide copy of Passport or State ID as proof of identity.
    f. Typically there is a $150 application fee — For the 2022 event, to help offset costs the USGA and Special Olympics National will help golfers by covering the $150 eligibility application fee. There may be financial assistance toward the cost of getting new assessments for athletes who do not have IQ or Adaptive testing within the last 5 years.
    Athletes Without Limits will work with you to review your application and determine if any additional information is needed. Once complete, we will endorse the application at the National Level (post to our National Golf Masterlist) and will then submit your application to Virtus International for International review and confirmation to the Virtus International Masterlist.
    Registration will open late February and remain open through May. The USGA recently changed their guidance to allow players to simultaneously register for the event on the USGA event page by following the link below while you work on your Virtus Eligibility. The event website states that date of entry is not the primary factor in determining the final field – entries received up until May 4th will be considered. Athletes Without Limits will keep the USGA posted on interested athletes and their progress through Virtus Eligibility. If an athlete is deemed not eligible for the event or is not selected for the event the USGA event registration fee will be fully refunded.
    Players must have have a World Handicap System (WHS) Handicap Index® of 36.4 or less to enter. While you work on your Eligibility application above, you can simultaneously be working on the steps to obtain a Handicap Index listed on the USGA event page:
    Once the Virtus Eligibility Committee confirms your International eligibility athletes will be posted to the Virtus International Master List and assigned a unique Virtus Athlete Number (we will email you) that can be used to register with EDGA for a WR4GD pass (this is referred to as “Virtus Certificate” on the EDGA Registration Website. (Athletes who do not have full Virtus eligibility may be able to apply for an EDGA Access pass for some events):

Golf FAQ for players with intellectual impairment:
(See also the official event webpage for general FAQ)

  • Should I apply for National or International Level Eligibility?
    Players seeking EDGA’s WR4GD Pass (required for the USGA 2022 U.S. Adaptive Open Championship) should complete our Eligibility application for Virtus International Level, so they can be added to the Virtus Master List and then register for a WR4GD Pass.
  • Which Virtus Eligibility Groups can apply for a Wr4GD Pass in Golf?
    You’ll notice three eligibility groups on the Virtus Eligibility application (II-1 Intellectual Disability, II-2 Additional Impairment/Down Syndrome and II-3-High Functioning Autism w/IQ of 76 or higher). Athletes in all three groups may be eligible for EDGA badged events and can apply for a WR4GD Pass. However, some events (like the 2022 USGA Adaptive Open Championships) follow the Paralympic model and are only open to athletes who meet the Virtus II1 Intellectual Disability criteria. (IQ 75 or lower). We encourage athletes in all three groups to apply to in order to connect to emerging opportunities.
  • Are athletes with High Functioning Autism eligible for the WR4GD Player Pass?
    Athletes in the Virtus II3 competition group for athletes with High Functioning Autism (IQ of 76 or higher) are eligible for a WR4GD Pass for EDGA badged event that offer II-3 competition. However, some events (like the 2022 USGA Adaptive Open Championships) follow the Paralympic model and are only open to athletes who meet the Virtus II1 Intellectual Disability criteria (IQ 75 or lower). We encourage athletes in all three groups to apply to in order to connect to emerging opportunities.
  • Which Virtus eligibility group should players with Down Syndrome apply for?
    We recommend athletes with Down Syndrome apply for dual eligibility in the Virtus II1 and Virtus II2 groups and provide all required evidence for both in order to be eligible for more events. Some EDGA badged events may offer separate II2 competition, however, some events (like the 2022 USGA Adaptive Open Championships) follow the Paralympic model and are only open to athletes who meet the IQ and Adaptive Behavior Criteria for Virtus II1-Intellectual Disability.
  • Do players with Down Syndrome need AAI Clearance?
    To apply for Virtus eligibility players with Down Syndrome must have their doctor sign and complete the Virtus AAI Clearance form (application page 3) and provide a copy of their scan.

Additional questions?

We’d love to hear from you!
Click below to contact Athletes Without Limits, USA Member of Virtus