Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Marriott Singled Out in ADA Suit

Litigation surrounding the single-rider golf car issue isn't going to wait for the Department of Justice to issue a ruling.

A federal judge ruled Jan. 28 that Marriott International’s golf division is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act because it failed to provide “accessible” or “single-rider” golf cars to disabled persons at its managed properties, according to court documents.

Plaintiffs in the case are Lawrence Celano, Richard Thesing and William Hefferon, disabled golfers. They did not pursue monetary damages in the case, which really makes them look like the good guys in this case.

Marriott will end up paying several million dollars in legal fees to lose this case, and the company likely will be required to furnish the single-rider golf cars anyway.

But Marriott will not be the only ones. In a conversation with Golfdom, Thesing says he's going after other large management companies, too.

Should this be a battle? Doesn't golf have enough problems fighting the perception of exclusionary practices?

Economics and Golf

The economic news yesterday was not good. Consumer confidence is down. Meanwhile, wholesale inflation soared, just not like Superman in this case.

The New York-based Confidence Board reported Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index sank to 75.0 in February from 87.3 in January. It’s the lowest level since February 2003 when it hit 64.8. Analysts had expected the latest reading to hit about 83.0.

The Consumer Confidence Index measures how consumers feel about the economy, which in this case is not very good.

How could this affect the golf market in 2008? Rounds were down about a half percent in 2007. The economic experts say consumers shut their wallets when their confidence is down. Does that mean they’ll play less golf?

What are your thoughts?

— Larry Aylward