Golf clubs that are continuing to maintain their courses in golf-ready condition are being asked to consider their responsibilities to the wider industry and to the health of their staff if they disregard guidelines regarding essential maintenance during the period of current Coronavirus restrictions.
Following representation from the golf industry, the UK government has permitted ‘essential maintenance’ to take place on courses so that they can be ‘returned to a playable condition in a timely fashion’ when COVID-19 restrictions are eased. Following this announcement, BIGGA and the R&A published a document that gave an indication of what work can take place.
The guidance allows a level of maintenance that will enable the course to be returned into a playable condition very quickly, rather than the months it could take if no work was to take place for an extended period. However, some clubs are disregarding this advice and choosing to maintain their course as it were to be ready to play at a moment’s notice, with several posting updates on social media of works that have been carried out that go beyond the limits of ‘essential maintenance’.
BIGGA chief executive Jim Croxton said: “We feel very strongly that anyone who is flouting the essential maintenance guidelines should be brought to task. Some golf clubs are putting staff members at risk by ignoring the guidance, so we’re working with golf’s other governing bodies to ensure that the guidelines are adhered to.
“We’ve been asked whether we should be enforcing the situation, but as a members’ association we have no control over facilities. I’m hopeful that the rest of the sport will help us work with other clubs that are not playing by the rules, firstly for the safety of those involved, and secondly because we are relatively privileged as a sport that the Government has allowed maintenance to continue. It hasn’t happened in other countries and I’m worried that permission could be removed if the Government perceives that the guidance is being abused.
“Every employer’s first duty of care is to its employees and if you are in an unsafe situation you should contact our HR Helpline for advice on how to proceed.”
As the UK moves into summer, bringing warmer weather and increased growth, BIGGA and The R&A have pledged to revisit these guidelines on a regular basis for as long as restrictions remain in place.