The Major Risk in Health and Safety for Golf Clubs

Posted on: 23 March 2023

The Major Risk in Health and Safety for Golf Clubs, author, Neil Cahill, Senior Associate with Fieldfisher LLP.

As the azaleas begin to bloom at Augusta National for the first major of the year.  The question is not just will Rory McIlroy do it and win the career grand slam?  It’s also as a golf club are you ready for the summer and sufficiently protected against all the potential risks to injury for visitors and employees alike. 

I intend to identify four of the major risks to golf clubs from a health and safety perspective to both employees and visitors and how golf clubs can look to mitigate against them.

The Background

Whilst the UK and Ireland are different legal jurisdictions the principles and laws governing health and safety are similar.  As we know, following Brexit the UK is no longer in the EU, however, the law governing health and safety still dates back to European legislation dating back to what was commonly called the “six pack” regulations which came into effect following six EU directives in 1993. 

In the UK, these regulations updated the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and were brought into effect by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. 

In the Republic of Ireland, the main legislation is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.  This health and safety legislation is supplemented by the legislation around occupiers liability and the common law of negligence.

The Risks:

1.           Risks to Green keeping staff

All clubs employ green keeping staff to maintain the course.  As an employer, the legislation is clear that you have a non-delegable duty to ensure a safe workplace for their employees.  Green keeping staff are probably the most at risk category of employees in a golf club environment as they are operating heavy and complex machinery at times together with handling chemicals.

2.           Risks in the Kitchen and Bar

Many golf clubs run some sort of kitchen or bar.  They employ kitchen and bar staff on a full or temporary basis.  The status of this staff does not change your obligations as an employer.  The kitchen and bar environment is a major area of risk for the likes of knife cuts, burns and slips.

3.           Risks in the Clubhouse

Many golfers play in all conditions and then come into the clubhouse be that the locker room or bar.  The chances of them bringing water, mud or other materials in off the course increase the risk of slips and trips to visitors both playing and non-playing in the clubhouse.

4.           Risks on the Course

Anyone who plays sports assumes a level of risk but a golf ball can be a dangerous object.  Therefore, it is important that clubs ensure the design of their courses seek to minimise the risk of injury where possible and all players are aware of their roles and responsibilities.

How to minimise the risks

The legislation requires that you amongst other things to:

  • Train your staff;
  • Carry out risk assessments of activities;

It is important to ensure that you have documented all training and procedures.  In the modern world, the ability to automate these tasks and ensure that you have a defensible audit trail is essential in respect of complying with your health and safety requirements and claims defensibility.  The use of technology in doing this will both mitigate risk and save time to allow club has to concentrate on their management responsibilities.


With the varied nature of activities that take place in the golf club environment.  Golf club manager should not overlook their health and safety responsibilities as the risk of injury can be great and have an effect on the business with reputational damage, lost staff days and the costs of claims leading to increased insurance premiums.  The risk is real and golf clubs would be well advised to have health and safety high on their agenda.

Neil Cahill is a Senior Associate with Fieldfisher LLP based in their Dublin office.  Fieldfisher LLP provide a full suite of health and safety services in the UK and Ireland both in respect of advisory and crisis response.

If you would like more information on how you can streamline your Compliance, Safety and Training click here.