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Chapter 29 Weather to close the course!

Just what are the responsibilities of the Golf Club when the weather conditions change?

Every Head Greenkeeper know the problems, not to say anguish, of closing the course due to frost. The "old hardies" are right in there complaining - especially if they consider the conditions marginally playable!

However, you allow them out, one of them slips and breaks a leg, can they claim against the club? This is a delicate point which will only ever be resolved in court. In UK however, it is difficult to get a conviction if the club, and its representatives, have done everything which could be reasonably expected of them. This is judged under a legal term "Duty of Care" The problem with it is that the club knowing the 7th fairway is steep, is treacherous in wet or frosty weather, has no path to bypass the problem, and the club, knowing the problem have never built a path - you can understand how legal arguements can be made. This problem requires a risk assessment - please do one This will prove that at least you have recognised the problem and taken some action.

A further problem however is changing weather conditions. What arrangements have you made for sudden lightning storms? - can you warn the golfers? What have they to do? There are several documented cases of groups of golfers sheltering under a lone tree who have been severely injured, and in one case killed during a sudden storm in USA.

Members and visitors should know the safe alternative - the clubhouse, greenkeeping sheds, and golfer shelters should be the best alternative - Have you checked these for lightning conductors?

If caught in the open, they should be told to crouch down - perhaps in a bunker. Never play on, as the shaft of a golf club can act as an excellent lightning conductor. A group of many small trees is much safer than one large tree.

Mobile phones are safe to use - landlines are best not used during these storms

The above should be considered and written up as Safe Working Practice and a RISK ASSESSMENT

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