Clubs have a legal responsibility to make sure everyone can access their courses. We’ve got lots of advice to help you manage this.
Making a reasonable adjustment that allows those who cannot play without the use of a buggy to access your course is the main focus of this advice.
It is a combination of the clubs requirements to comply with health and safety legislation, as well as that of the Equality Act 2010.
Whilst this guidance is for clubs, it is available for golf club members to download and discuss with their club.
There are two distinct areas you need to consider – General Play and Competition Play.
We have put together a guide for clubs on how you and your members can review your existing policy and look to make reasonable adjustments.
Download the ‘How to guide’ for clubs down below.
We want everyone to be able to take part in our competitions and, if you’ve got a medical reason, you can receive permission to use a golf buggy.
You can download our guidance on using buggies for competition and how to manage buggy traffic on your course below.
Buggies and Course Damage
We understand that most golf clubs take immense pride in the condition of their courses, and that the prospect of buggies causing damage to the course turf is worrying for golf clubs.
We have obtained updated research on the effect of different mobility buggies on golf turf from the Sports Turf Research Institute. The research looks at the effect on all varieties of golf turfs caused by the following types of buggies:
- Conventional two-seater buggies;
- Three-wheeled single-seater buggies; and
- Four-wheeled single-seater buggies.
You can read the guidance here.
In summary, the research found that there was no significant difference between the compaction and damage caused by conventional two-seater buggies and smaller single-seater buggies. The research also showed that there is a small effect on course conditions when buggies are used in wet weather.
However, the key to maintaining good course conditions when buggies are used in wet weather is the sensible use of buggies. Smooth turns, low speeds, and staying on designated pathways are advisable at all times.
This research means that it is very difficult to justify a blanket buggy ban, and a club will have to show that it would be objectively unreasonable to allow buggies onto the course due to the disproportionate amount of course damage that would occur.
If you want to use your golf buggy at a particular course or venue, it is possible that the course will require you to hold adequate insurance to cover your use of the buggy.
This is a reasonable requirement, and England Golf would always recommend considering insuring yourself when operating a golf buggy.
Hiring a Buggy for Golfers with a Disability
Under the Equality Act 2010 organisations are required to make “reasonable adjustments” to avoid discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of any protected characteristic – including disability.
Is it reasonable for clubs to provide golf buggies to golfers with a disability free of charge?
Discriminating is defined in the Equality Act 2010 as treating somebody less favourably on the basis of a protected characteristic. So, if Person A lives with a disability and requires a golf buggy, and their club charges players £10 to hire a golf buggy, that person has to pay £10 more to play a round of golf than Person B who does not have a disability.
Whether or not a golf club can charge players with a disability to hire a golf buggy will depend on whether it would be reasonable, in light of all the circumstances, to waive the hiring fee. What is reasonable in any given situation will depend upon the specific circumstances. For example:
- It would be reasonable to allow a competitor with a disability to use a golf buggy in a competition where the rules state that competitors must walk during their rounds.
- It would be less reasonable to expect a golf club which does not have its own buggies to purchase new golf buggies, at considerable expense, for competitors to use in club competitions.
We recommend that individuals speak to their golf club about their disability and their need to use a golf buggy.
We recommend that golf clubs seek independent legal advice to make sure that they are acting lawfully when deciding their policy on the use, and hiring out, of golf buggies to golfers with a disability.
Have a question about golf traffic or buggy policy?
Our governance team are able to discuss
- Understanding the legislation that impacts on this area
- The requirements that the legislation places on clubs
- The guidance that we have put together
You will need to seek your own independent legal advice when you have reviewed and updated your policy to ensure that it conforms with the legislation in this area.
You can contact the Governance Team via email firstname.lastname@example.org