It is clear from member feedback that there is ongoing debate around the reasoning and validity of the 8.00 a.m. winter start time on the 1st tee. Unfortunately, custom and practice has led to a situation where this rule has not been consistently applied in the past and some members, to the bemusement of others, appear to be regularly teeing off well before 8.00 a.m.
The purpose of this note is to set out very clearly the rationale behind this rule and to alert all members to the potential implications for the Club and for individual golfers of knowingly failing to comply. First and foremost, the rule is to allow green staff, who don't start work until 7.00 a.m. in the winter, sufficient time, in good daylight, to clear and prep the first few greens ready for play. Given the blind tee shot on the 1st hole, it is imperative that Club employees are able to work unhindered, in an environment where their safety and wellbeing is reasonably protected. In addition, members should also be mindful of the risk of hitting fellow golfers from the tee when the light is still poor in the morning and we are all now well aware that shouting "fore" provides little or no protection in law.
In terms of the law, the Club has a duty of care to its employees and its members and our own risk assessments have highlighted the need for the 8.00 a.m. start time to be consistently applied. Failure to apply this duty of care could leave the Club open to a claim of negligence that would be difficult to defend and one where our insurers could decline any compensation claim thereby leaving the directors personally liable for any injuries or losses incurred. Individual members should similarly be aware that they too would be equally liable for any injuries or losses incurred should their golf ball strike anyone, including a member of the public, on the golf course.
However, to be clear, the above scenarios are not what any of us want to see happening especially in light of the rapidly escalating value of settlements in personal injury claims. The financial burden that such a claim would put on either the Club, its directors or an individual member represents an unacceptable risk to all involved. As such, the Board wish to inform all members and our employees that, with immediate effect, the 8.00 a.m. start will be strictly applied to all tees including the 1st, 7th and 10th tees, irrespective of whether greens staff are working on the course at the time.
While we recognise that the vast majority of members already observe this rule, the Board wish to make it clear that full compliance is our only defence in law and that formal sanctions will have to be applied to any members who are found to be in breach by teeing off before the 8.00 a.m. winter start time.
T H Glover, Secretary/Manager