fore! golf course property liabilities every owner should address
Your golf course is a quiet oasis, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, this sports sanctuary can only run smoothly if it has the necessary insurance protection from potential golf course property liabilities. Here are four considerations to address.
1. Hooks and Slices
Unless your members are all on the PGA circuit, they are likely to (occasionally) hook or slice a shot in the wrong direction. If your course is located in a densely-populated neighborhood or near busy streets, you have probably encountered complaints of broken windows or damaged automobiles. While you could move tee boxes or install more fencing, these are only temporary fixes.
As the Insurance Journal points out, in previous legal decisions, golf course owners have been forced to pay restitution for property damage caused by errant golf balls. While a broken window or two may not seem like a lot, the costs can add up over time.
Lessons may be one solution to the problem — but insurance is a more effective way to address golf course property liabilities.
2. Golf Carts Gone Wild
Even though golf carts sputter slowly down the fairway, they can be dangerous. These vehicles typically lack standard safety features like seat belts or doors, and offer limited protection to passengers. As a result, your fleet of carts can be a potential liability.
Whether golfers drive them responsibly or not, they are prone to accidents: They can collide with each other, tip over or even fall in a water hazard, causing serious injury or even death. Since these mishaps are somewhat commonplace, many courses enroll in golf course insurance to help pay for medical bills and related expenses in the event of an accident.
3. Member, Guest and Employee Injuries
Golf is a non-contact sport, but its players are not immune to injury. Although wrist and back injuries are most common, golfers and caddies can also sustain serious injury when hit by an errant shot.
Since multiple foursomes can play interweaving holes simultaneously, this danger is another unavoidable part of the game. Sometimes, even yelling out "fore!" is not enough warning to help a golfer move out of the way in time.
While golf carts are fun to drive, there is a right (and a wrong) way to operate them. Even if your golfers follow safety guidelines, there is the real risk that a passenger could tumble out of a cart on a steep hill or sharp turn. In the fall, they could sustain a serious injury, leaving you on the hook for hefty medical bills.
4. Lightning on the Course
Last but not least: number fore! Like any tree-laden outdoor area, golf courses tend to attract lightning strikes, which could cause damage to property or injure someone on the grounds. Although these acts of nature are out of your control, you can plan ahead to limit the associated liability.
According to FindLaw, legal rulings have specified that golf courses have a duty to post a sign that details their safety procedures. Whether you construct a lightning shelter or craft an evacuation plan, you must keep everyone properly informed about it. If you have no procedures, the law states you must post a sign that golfers play at their own risk. It's a good idea to regularly check in with your lawyer to ensure your business remains in compliance with state and federal laws.
Whether your links are public or private, every owner can benefit from the protection that insurance provides from these golf course property liabilities.