Prevention in the Resort Golf Arena
By Steve Eisenberg
Risk Management can he an effective preventative measure to optimit^e accident prevention in the resort golf arena. This article explores known risks, identifies other potential areas of risk, and offers solutions that may be adopted hy Resort Facilities to minimi^ risk in the golf sector. Introduction
In 1995, after six years as a personal injury lawyer, and three years as a golf professional, this researcher began to explore liability issues in the golf business. In this age of litigation-happy consumers, it had become necessary to face the reality of personal injury Kability litigation in the golf arena. This article offers an assessment based on trends that have been present in the industry from 1995 to the present time, and how the modern resort golf faciUty can offset the risks associated with these trends by adopting a comprehensive risk management plan. It is suggested that there are four categories within the context of this issue that will help successfully implement such a preventative plan. They are:
A) Identifying Sources of Risk
B) Determining and implementing measures to eUminate or minimize risk C) Supplementing the plan with various forms of insurance coverage D) Steps to take to minimize exposure in case of an accident Categories of risk and measures to eliminate risk
The first and second categories of the preventative plan are inexorably woven together and vitally important to its success. Many facilities neglect to even do a cursory examination of their premises, assuming that insurance will avoid the necessity of this dme consuming endeavor. Obvious, without the examination, the cure is never applied. However, such facilities miss the obvious; that accidents themselves make it harder for an entity to remain eKgible for insurance at competitive rates. Sources of risk run the gamut of the obvious to the subtle. They can involve golf car paths, golf cars defects, negligent golf car operation, bridges, steep grades, golf spike use, errant golf shots, negligence in golf course design, driving range and practice area design and use, or risks involved in teaching the game to patrons, alcohol-related risks, and weather-related risks. As stated in an article published by Joseph and Diane Devanney (2002), "The best general advice that can be given to operators, managers and owners of golf courses is that the law varies often from state to state and, in any event, any case anjrwhere will have a specific set of facts that wiU often "make or break" the eventual outcome. Owners should try as much as possible to anticipate problems in advance rather than simply wait for an issue to arise. " A facility should engage in a risk assessment on a regular basis, involving not just those hired to do such an assessment, but also staff members working in all areas of a particular golf operation. This should involve an "A to Z" examination, as well as thinking broadly about various contingency situations. One excellent practice that is often utilized is trying to repUcate possible situations where incidents could occur. Rather than using the facility in a safe manner, examine what would happen if a patron were to exhibit less than safe behavior. As an example, while car paths are meant to be traveled upon, players often go off the edges of such paths while driving. Are there steep drop-offs on the sides that could contribute to an accident? If there is even a fair chance an accident would occur, roping off such an area or adding fiU would be prudent solution to avoid a potential accident. Such conduct may be viewed positively by a jury if a case does go to trial.
FIU Review Vol. 25 No. 1 Page: 77
Another example regarding golf car paths is the fact that many patrons ride with their feet outside the golf car floor area. This behavior exposes them to danger from protruding rocks or curbs built to contain a golf car. While...