alt text

Frequently Asked Questions

England Golf’s safeguarding team have highlighted a number of frequently asked questions that come in along with detailed answers.

Should juniors be allowed to play solo or alongside adults they do not know, unsupervised?

This is a common question that we receive and there is no simple answer. Each club must decide at what age a junior can be safely allowed out on the course unsupervised. We would advise against applying a blanket rule to all juniors, as 16 and 17-year-olds, who have many responsibilities and freedoms in everyday life, could not be expected to face the same safety restrictions as an 8-year-old junior.

When coming to a decision the club will need to consider any hazards on the course that may affect a child’s safety such as ponds, roads they may have to cross, and access that general members of the public may have to the course.

The child’s individual needs should also be taken into account. They may be older than the club’s usual ‘cut off point’ for needing accompaniment, but if the junior has additional learning and/or medical needs (for example), they may be safer playing with someone who knows and understands them.

Any child who is considered safe to use the course unsupervised should only do this if parental permission has been established in advance.

Can clubs restrict competition entry based on age? I have been told that juniors are not allowed to enter an ‘adult’ competition for ‘safeguarding reasons’.

England Golf encourages junior members to play/compete alongside adults, as the handicap system allows for players of similar ability to be pitted against one another, irrespective of their age. There is not an official rule that would prevent juniors from playing in competition with adults.

In terms of meeting equality expectations, clubs have a responsibility to provide a range of events representing all abilities. While entry can ordinarily be restricted on grounds of age and or gender, if only a limited number of competitions are being hosted during a season then it is important that these are open to as many members as possible.

It is ultimately up to the club to decide whether to restrict entry to competitions, but we could caution against any policy that could be interpreted as discriminatory.

One of our members is rumoured to have a criminal conviction for sexual offences. We have no idea if the rumours are true, or if children/vulnerable adults were allegedly involved. What should we do?

If you have safeguarding concerns about a member – or anyone else anyone at the club – please contact England Golf Safeguarding Team without delay. Clubs should not attempt to establish whether concerns, rumours or allegations have any substance before contacting us, as any delay (or well-intentioned misstep) could hinder the safeguarding process.

Similarly, if a club is reliably informed by an official source (such as the police or probation services) that an individual at the club has convictions of a sexual nature, they need to contact the England Golf Safeguarding Team.

Under our Safeguarding Regulations (2021), England Golf have a range of options at our disposal to help us assess and reduce the risk an individual presents. This process is further supported by our national case management system, which allows us to cross-reference new concerns with details of previous referrals and formulate a clearer understanding of the risk presented. We also follow established information sharing protocol to obtain further relevant details from partner agencies.

After considering and evaluating all of information available to us, we will then advise the club on the best course of action moving forward.

Details of how to contact the England Golf Safeguarding Team can be found here.