Supportive Golf Chair

Client Coordinators: Dr. Dan Johnson, UNC-Wilmington and Ashley Thomas, Bridge 2 Sports
Designers: Jeremy Zhang, Ben Russell, Eric Lee
Supervising Professor: Kevin Caves and Richard Goldberg

Persons with spinal cord injury and other disabilities cannot play golf without the aid of a supporting device. Commercial “single rider carts” are available, which provide support to the golfer. However, these are expensive and the mobility of a cart is not needed to practice at the driving range. We developed supportive golf chair that enables people with disabilities to play golf on the driving range. The golfer sits on our chair, and additional support is provided with belts at waist and chest height. The golfer can independently adjust the height of the chair using a hand-operated hydraulic pump. The device has attached wheels for mobility, and it is stable.

In testing with several clients with a variety of disabilities, each of them felt the golf chair was safe and effective. One individual with 2 lower limb amputations stated, “It works great and I felt very comfortable in it.”

The basis for the design is a commercially available salon chair, which we modified for our application. The chair has a hydraulic pump, which is normally controlled with a foot pedal. Since hand control was necessary for golfers who are amputees or don’t have full strength in their legs, we replaced the foot pedal with longer lever arms on both sides. The lever arms have telescoping attachments, which are particularly helpful as the seat rises. The seat height of the chair adjusts between 25.5” and 32.5”, which meets the specifications given by the client coordinators. The hydraulic pump is rated to support individuals up to 350 pounds.

The base of the salon chair was raised with pressure treated wooden decking and other weather treated wood. The total height of the chair was raised 4.5 inches to bring the chair to a minimum height of 25.5” at seat level. Because rotation of the seat is not desired during a golf swing, we installed custom metal poles to both impede rotation while still allowing the chair to move smoothly up and down.

The chair has waist and chest belts to support for individuals during the golf swing. These seat belts were purchased from local auto parts dealers. They provide easily adjustable support and are quick to engage and disengage. The waist belts are secured tightly to metal brackets on the bottom of the chair. The back belts are secured tightly to wooden decking spanning the rear of the chair.

The back of the seat slides horizontally to provide support for individuals with higher order spinal cord injuries who lack trunk support. The back adjusts forward through an 8” range. It is held in place with handles attached to threaded rods that screw into imbedded T-nut. The chair has this locking mechanism and a track inside the wooden arms on both sides.

For portability, a hand truck was attached to the rear of the chair. The hand truck is secured tightly with four metal brackets to the base of the chair and with two metal brackets at seat height. An individual can move the chair by tilting it back and pulling or pushing it on its wheels.

Total cost of the device is $485.

1 comment to Supportive Golf Chair

  • This is awesome, and it’s great that disable people are being given the chance to play golf. I think every golf course should get a couple of these just as they might put up a ramp for wheelchair access. Not a huge cost for individual golf clubs.