In order to be topical, every time I write an article on Health & Safety, I try to find the subject that is causing me the most problems that month. For the last 15 years the recurring problem has been Ride-on Golf Buggies or Golf Carts.

It is now estimated that eighty percent of golfers in USA use a golf buggy and it seems that habit will take off here, especially on the pay-as-you-play courses.

There has been a recent legal wrangle in USA where a Golf Professional has claimed that he must be allowed the use of a Golf Buggy as he is disabled and cannot walk around the course like other golfers. In opposition to this is the argument that walking is an integral part of the game and would give ‘buggy user’ unfair advantage.

I was recently in USA and tried the various approaches to buggy use. There are four basic approaches

  1. Buggies are not allowed on the course
  2. Let the golfer ramble where he will – driving from where he hit the ball to his next shot in as direct a line as possible. This is possible in some courses but leads to management problems in others. In many cases, golfers have been found driving up and down the rough looking for their ball and in doing so flattening the rough.
  3. Have clearly defined buggy paths and insist that the buggies are only used on the path. I was surprised at how quickly it is possible to complete a round in this way and found it did not in any way impede the progress of play – but I played with good golfers (under 8 par.)
  4. Have clearly defined buggy paths and insist that the buggies are used on the path but can leave the path at right angles to reach their ball.

There is a distinct problem in all these solutions, basically involving Health & Safety.

The question to be asked is : if a golfer flips the buggy on any part of the course, can he sue you or the club?

The problem as usual breaks up into four criteria.

PREMISES -Is the course fit to take buggies? I have been asking many manufacturers regarding the safe slopes for their buggies and most have quoted the slope the buggy is capable of climbing or going down. The critical slope is where the buggy traverses the slope. The slope most often quoted as the maximum for buggies is 15 degrees. Do you have any slopes over this steepness? Have you warned the golfer of the risk?

PLANT : If you have hired a buggy out to a golfer who flips it on a slope, can he claim against you or the club? Has the Buggy been properly maintained? Can you prove it?

PEOPLE : Is the golfer qualified to drive a buggy? What qualifications does he need?

PRACTICES : Is the buggy driver clear on what is and is not allowed?

We have developed a three point plan for the handling of buggies

1.Golf Buggy Safety Policy - the starter holds a laminated copy of our buggy policy at the starters box

2.Golf Buggy Safe Working Practice – this is laminated and one copy kept in the starters box, another is fixed in the buggy

3.Golf Buggy Safety Policy Acknowledgement Form – this must be signed by the golfer before he can use a buggy on the course. This confirms that he has read our buggy policy and identifies the particular areas where he must stay away from. Should an accident occur in an area which has been identified as hazardous, we could obviously not be held responsible

Golf Buggy Safety Policy

  1. Golf Buggies on ………………Golf Club property are only for the use of those of pension age or who have mobility impairment and can produce a Doctors’ Certificate.
  2. Authorisation to operate a Golf Buggy is contingent on the possession of a valid driver’s license.
  3. Golf Buggies must be operated with the utmost courtesy, care and consideration for the safety and convenience of pedestrians. Pedestrians must be afforded the right-of-way at all times.
  4. Golf Buggies must be operated in such manner that they do not impede or interfere with normal pedestrian or vehicular traffic flow on roadways, ramps or sidewalks.
  5. Golf Buggy operators will be responsible for the security of ignition keys for the period that a Golf Buggy is assigned to them.
  6. Golf Buggies must be operated within the confines of ………………Golf Club only.
  7. No Golf Buggy will be operated in excess of 15km per hour. All speed limits must be observed.
  8. Golf Buggies are intended for use only between dawn and dusk.
  9. Golf Buggies must be operated in compliance with the common “rules of the road” regardless of whether Golf Buggies are being operated on pavements or roadways.
  10. Operators must stop Golf Buggies at all blind intersections and proceed with caution.
  11. Golf Buggies must not be parked in any manner likely to obstruct or interfere with the flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic in heavily travelled areas. Pedestrians as used here, shall include persons in wheelchairs or mobility assistance devices.
  12. Operators must not stop (bring a Golf Buggy to rest for any period of time) in the middle of roads and walkways.
  13. Only Golf Buggies provided by ………………Golf Club are normally used. Customers own Golf Buggies can be used only by prior arrangement of 14 days.
  14. Golf Buggies must not be adapted in any way from the manufacturer’s design. Golf Buggies must conform to the current CE standards.
  15. All Golf Buggies used on ………………Golf Club must be 1) maintained to the manufacturer’s service recommendations and records kept of the maintenance and 2) assessed for risk by ………………Golf Club Health and Safety Advisor.

Safe Working Practice

The use of a Golf Buggy on ………………Golf Club




· When the vehicle is to be left unattended, turn the key to the “off” position. Remove the key and engage the hill brake.

Golf Buggy Safety Policy Acknowledgement Form

Both sides of this form must be completed by all golfers

prior to operating a Golf Buggy

Any person who accepts the privilege of operating a Golf Buggy on ………………Golf Club premises is deemed, by so doing, to have the knowledge, training and skill to safely operate this vehicle and shall be fully accountable for their actions and consequences thereof.

The safe operation of Golf Buggies on ………………Golf Club requires conscientious application and adherence to the minimum standard of care prescribed by this policy.



By signing below I acknowledge that:



Checklist for users before use of Buggy

Know the controls and how to use them £

Know your driving conditions £

Problems of the course £