The National Golf Clubs‘ Advisory Association (NGCAA) is backing the Scottish Golf Union’s (SGU) call to change right-of-way legislation so that non-golfers stick to footpaths and off course fairways and greens.
NGCAA support follows discussions held earlier this week between the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on golf and club secretaries focusing on the 2003 Land Reform Act. Since the Act was passed, ramblers have had enhanced rights-of-way across Scotland’s courses.
National Secretary for the NGCAA, Michael Shaw, comments, “We are now living in a ‘blame and claim‘ culture and cannot simply allow people to roam freely across golf courses. Despite the provisions of the Act making “acting responsible” mandatory and the codes of practice introduced to reinforce this, nevertheless golf courses remain surprisingly dangerous places.
“There are many health and safety issues associated with giving unrestricted access to non-golfers, not least the risk of serious injury caused by a golf ball being mis-hit or driven off line. There are other issues including the potential for serious damage being done to the course, which could cause a person to trip or fall, and for example, the unpleasant issue of dog mess left behind by irresponsible dog walkers – a known health and safety issue.”
The NGCAA is in agreement with the SGU and proposes that non-golfer access is managed, rather than completely restricted. Shaw continues, “Designated access points for non-golfers should be determined and safe pathways clearly marked. Simple measures such as these would enhance safety for both golfers and non-golfers.
“Proper risk management is the key, and considering that the vast majority of courses throughout the UK are subject to public rights-of-way, golf clubs and their managers are experts in effectively managing these health and safety issues, thus making a comfortable and safe environment for all entitled to be there. They deserve to be heard.
“Proposing changes to the current right-of-way legislation is not based on people disturbing the game of golf. It is much more important than that. It is about reducing the risk of needless accidents and ensuring that Scotland’s courses continue to attract golfers from around the world and generate hundreds of millions of pounds each year towards the country’s economy.”