Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Few Words on Common Sense Risk Reduction

By Michael Vogt, CGCS

The sheer number and variety of risks involved in operating a golf course can be daunting for owners and memberships. These groups will not want to be exposed directly or indirectly to liability by management who has not taken preventative steps to head off the myriad of risks involved in operating a club or golf course. The membership and owners will want to have confidence that course management and staff actively watch-dog potential hazards, and the operation has adequate insurance coverage pertaining to all aspects of the facility's operation. Using common sense prevention can help golf course managers reduce exposure to liability from golfers, guests and the general public.

To proactively avoid risk, educate staff members and conduct regularly scheduled safety reviews. All staff members should be knowledgeable about the dangers inherent in high liability areas such as driving ranges, golf carts, bunkers, water hazards, swimming pools, spas and hot tubs, chemical and fertilizers applications and locker rooms. Enlist the help of the entire staff by reinforcing the need to be alert of weather dangers, lighting inadequacies, underperforming equipment, pool health, and potential environmental liabilities. All staff, but in particular those in food and beverage operations, need to be trained regarding the constraints of liquor liability. Implement practices such as end of day course, pool and driving range patrols. While ensuring that no member is left behind at closing, these sweeps can also serve as a built-in safety review for the next morning's opening. Develop, document and drill staff in the procedures for inclement weather shut-downs, evacuation, fire, flood and other emergency preparedness plans.

Potential liability may also be reduced by proactively reviewing and keeping in compliance with all appropriate permits, licenses and approvals. Perform frequent internal reviews of chemical application permits, errant golf ball easements for courses located in residential areas, endangered species designations, and maintenance of wetlands.

Just as important as continually reviewing risk potential within your operation, it is prudent to periodically review your carrier and their financial stability. In today's turbulent times, carriers have been impacted as well, and any instability could affect an insurer's ability to process or pay claims in a timely fashion. Speak with your agent, review company ratings, and do some research on your own to ensure that your policy is placed with a solid insurer.

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