The government is expected to introduce new laws before the end of the year as part of a major overhaul of the Licensing Act 1964. Currently, private members clubs – such as golf clubs – enjoy a ‘privileged status‘ that allows them to supply alcohol to visiting members of the public, as well as club members and their guests. The new legislation will mean that visiting members of the public will no longer be able to enjoy a tipple at the ‘nineteenth hole‘.
Mike Shaw from the National Golf Clubs‘ Advisory Association (NGCA) believes the changes are ill conceived and will have a devastating effect on the golf industry. “This is change for change’s sake,” he said. “The current laws have existed for over forty years and there has never been any evidence of abuse by clubs.
“Over 3 million people regularly play golf in the UK and trying out new courses is core to the golf ethos. Not all of these people are members of clubs, so protocols exist that mean visitors to a region can telephone a golf club to see whether they are able to visit and play at the club.
“Provided there is an available tee time, it follows that these visitors would want to have a drink at the club’s bar after their round. All pretty harmless in my opinion but the government seems intent on being a killjoy and outlawing this traditional and hospitable part of golf.
“I urge everyone who plays golf to lobby their MP in a bid to prevent the introduction of this law. If the government succeeds, golf will never be the same sociable activity it has always been.”
Solicitor Nick Lewis, a partner at Bolton law firm Kippax Beaumont Lewis, said, “Some of the changes do seem rather ridiculous. Private members clubs are just that – clubs owned by the members for the members. It seems only right that they should be allowed to decide for themselves who they allow in.
“The government department responsible for these new laws is also responsible for encouraging tourism. Ironically, the new rules will mean that a visiting tourist who’s played a round of golf at a club won‘t be able to get a drink there. It does seem utterly crazy.”
For details about the imminent changes and advice about lobbying, contact Mike Shaw at the NGCA on 01684 311353 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org