Charity golf events are pretty common at municipal, daily fee and private golf facilities. These events represent an opportune way to support the community, gain exposure to your course and assist in raising contributions for very worthwhile causes. Of course, they also bring additional revenue for your facility. Hosting charity events, however, can increase liability exposure. Here is a checklist of common circumstances many golf course owners/operators don’t think about when hosting large numbers of outing guests for an event:
- Attracting Thieves. Any publicly advertised/promoted event increases the risk of unwanted attention from thieves who blend in with guests and steal clubs, merchandise and valuables amidst pre-event activity.
- Parking lot issues – damage to vehicles, theft of property
- Theft of golf equipment (usually left unattended on pre-staged golf carts)
- Inclement weather. Take extra steps to ensure guests know the signal for dangerous weather conditions and where to go to take safe shelter. This is especially important as often guests at charity events may not be familiar with your facilities.
- Capacity. In the event of dangerous weather conditions, can your facility safely accommodate all guests? What is your backup plan?
- Contracted Services. What are the explicit requirements you have agreed to in conducting an event (food services, alcoholic services, on course games, prizes etc, locker room services)? If you’re not exact and accurate, you may get stuck paying for things you never expected.
- Are you indemnified from any damage or injury occurring to or on behalf of a third party contracted by the event to provide product or services at your course?
- The Car or the Boat. Are you indemnified from damage or injury to or caused by the placement and existence of an object (typically a car, boat, motorcycle etc) on the golf course for promotional purposes or prizes?
- Golf Cart Provisions. Do guests understand rules pertaining to driving, riding and route restrictions?
- Are there special rules for non playing-volunteer cart drivers/riders who may be on the course?
- Adequate Protection. Have you taken necessary steps to ensure that volunteers and spectators (non-playing guests) remain out of harm's way?
- Attractive Nuisances. Are there any areas or objects that might be potentially dangerous to a guest unfamiliar with your facilities and course?
- Chemicals. Have you properly identified chemical applications in plain view of guests?
- Proper Signage. Is the course adequately marked for guests to be able to safely navigate away from dangerous areas?
- Items in Your Care. Have you arranged for safe storage of items associated with an event that are entrusted to your care (signage, gifts, prizes, etc)?
- H2O. Are you providing water along the golf course? If so, what precautionary practices are in place to ensure safe clean water and receptacles?
- Staff Interface. Are staff members trained on addressing and reporting customer issues, concerns, inappropriate language or behavior?
These and other related nuances may or may not increase liability depending on specific circumstances. This checklist is provided to help you think about and plan for mitigating issues and executing the most successful charity event at your course.
What questions or concerns do you have about charity golf events? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Mark Farrell is the group hospitality operations leader at Westfield and oversees a variety of businesses owned by Westfield Group. In addition to corporate dining and event planning operations, Mark is responsible for the Westfield Country Club, a 36-hole private golf facility, the 64 room Westfield Inn, and 360-seat Blair Conference Center.