Adders – the only British venomous snake – are a fairly common inhabitant of British golf courses, so golfers need to be made aware of the dangers and what to do, if bitten. But what is that?

Around 100 people are bitten by adders each year, almost always on warm days.  Snakes like to sun themselves and are often found in sand dunes and on beaches. They also enjoy a swim in fresh water, so they could be found in very many locations around a course.

This snake is distinguished by the dark zigzag marking that it sports on its back, so if you or one of your members sees one, the best thing to do is back away and not make it feel under threat in any way.  If it does strike, it is important to move as little as possible, to avoid spreading venom around the body.  Not all bites will transmit venom – around a third will not, in fact – but knowing whether a bite has, or has not, is not worth the gamble.

Getting the bite victim to the local hospital is probably an advisable course of action for any golf course.  Treating the bite with creams or TSP, or trying to suck the venom out, really will not work, so consult with the professionals, rather than attempting any snakebite DIY treatment.

The risk of adders, along with bees, wasps, rabbit and badger holes, and any other wildlife perils should of course be mentioned in your risk assessment and member guidance policies.

For help with all of your risk assessment requirements, please call Brian Goulding on 0113 244 8686, or email