Chaska Par 30 renovation gives golfers with disabilities a shot

Updated: July 31, 2019 06:21 PM

The golf industry has tried just about everything to attract new golfers and expand the number of people who can enjoy the game, but a golf course renovation in Chaska might be one of the most ambitious strategies yet. It will be a golf course open to golfers of all abilities, and accomodating to most disabilities.

"It's great to have a blank canvas, so to speak, to create from the ground up something that is going to be accessible and open to people like myself or people with other physical challenges," said Jon Dennis, a 50-year-old golfer who has been a paraplegic since a car accident at age 19.


The "canvas" is Chaska Par 30, just down the street from Hazeltine National Golf Club. The City of Chaska and a nonprofit called "Learning Links" formed a public-private partnership to finance the $2 million renovation.

"Our goal is to be 100 percent barrier free," said John Kellin, the head golf professional at Chaska Town Course and Chaska Par 30. "Really whether it's a physical disability, cognitive, financial, barrier-free. We want to have open doors to everybody."

The Minnesota State High School League was the first in the country to sponsor adapted athletic programs for students with disabilities. 11 other states have followed Minnesota's lead and now offer adapted athletic programs.

Kellin said the number of rounds at Chaska Par 30 has dropped from about 30,000 in the early 2000s to about 15,000-17,000 in recent years. The city and "Learning Links" see it as a unique opportunity to expand the accessibility of golf to more people and increase the number of people playing.

"We're redesigning a beautiful, existing golf course, golf space, for our community where people of all ages, all abilities and all experience can come and enjoy golf together," said Susan Neuville, a "Learning Links" board member.

The course will feature more gradual terrain, shorter grass and 10 Par 3 golf holes. They will also build a new clubhouse and putting course, and make available several adaptive golf carts that can be used by golfers with disabilities.

The Chaska City Council will consider financing plans at a meeting in August. "Learning Links" is trying to raise another $750,000 in private money to pay for their portion of the project.

You can learn more about "Learning Links" or make a donation here.

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Tom Hauser

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