Greenkeepers are being warned to stay safe during the pre-season, as tasks turn to getting the course ready for all the players coming out of their winter hibernation and wanting to hit balls once more.


Additionally, those responsible for health and safety within clubs are being advised to take advantage of a thought-provoking white paper that reflects on how changes within the game, and across the golf club landscape, could make courses and clubhouses higher-risk places to be both this season and in the future.


Gauntlet Golf’s health and safety consultants say pre-season can be one of the higher-risk times of year for greenkeepers, who are typically to be found handling fertilisers, aerating and tidying the course and maintaining bunkers.


Any clubs that took advantage of the winter break to work on changes to the course layout, diversification projects, or new development works, are also urged to review their health and safety policies and procedures with immediate effect.  


Gauntlet Golf advises that spring is the time of year at which the greatest emphasis should be placed on golf club health and safety.  As well as the potential hazard relating to substance handling and storage, posed by the use of fertilisers, the increased emphasis on the use of mowers, tractors and hand-held tools brings a variety of other risks into play, at a time when ground conditions may not be dry, solid or stable.


Health-risks can arise from handling fertilisers incorrectly, accidentally letting them gain contact with the skin, or via inhalation.  Storing them carelessly can also potentially present a fire hazard, or a health incident waiting to happen, if two different products come into contact with each other and a chemical reaction takes place.


On the mechanical side, equipment should be checked to ensure it is safe to handle after the winter break and greenkeepers should all be trained in its proper use, particularly if they are new to the course and the equipment.


Any hoses that could have retained water in kinks and bends need to be handled with care, as these could be breeding grounds for Legionella.


Ensuring that greenkeepers know the lie of the land on the course can also prevent mowers and other vehicles tipping over or plummeting into water hazards.


 “Many changes could have taken place over the winter,” says Gauntlet Golf Health and Safety’s, Brian Goulding – a specialist in handling golf course risk assessments and advising on health and safety procedures.  “Changes could relate to new personnel within the greenkeeping team, new equipment that has been purchased, building extensions and new features in the clubhouse, new catering arrangements, or even the departure of the person who used to handle health and safety on a volunteer basis.  



“Clubs need to assess all of the changes and make sure they are still compliant, have trained all staff correctly, whether they are managing chainsaws or chip pans, and have taken into account any course changes that may produce new hazards as members play the course.  It is worrying how many clubs do not take stock of their legal responsibilities, at this time of year in particular.”


Whilst getting to grips with training employees and volunteers in all aspects of health and safety can be a daunting one, Gauntlet Golf has handy e-learning modules that can cover many of the aspects in which staff need to be trained.


Brian also points to Gauntlet’s much-praised white paper, ‘The Changing Face of Golf’, which analyses a game in evolution, and the changes that clubs have had to introduce to survive, within a health and safety context.  This valuable resource is free to download at www.golfclubhealthandsafety.comand is a thought-provoking document that anyone responsible for health and safety within a golf club should read.


Brian says: “Golf clubs need to quickly dust the cobwebs off their risk assessments and health and safety policies, review them at length and make sure they still cover all the risks that exist.  With fines for health and safety breaches now being based on turnover and the possibility of an accident, rather than purely on actual cases of injury or death, and with corporate manslaughter cases also being brought against some of those who disregard health and safety, not reviewing procedures and tightening up on safety is too great a risk to take.”


To access expert help for your golf club, wherever you are based, contact Brian and the Gauntlet Golf team on 0113 244 8686.  To download ‘The Changing Face of Golf’, or to find out more about Gauntlet Golf’s services and e-learning options, please visit