Major Golf Course Risks

7 Major Golf Course Risks

Golf courses face a wide variety of risks. said it best in a recent article: “No golf course is safe from Mother Nature or human negligence.” 

In fact, we unfortunately witnessed just how damaging Mother Nature could be earlier this year when a fire ravaged the historic Oakland Hills Country Club just outside of Detroit, Michigan. The fire resulted in more than $80 million of damage to its clubhouse. 

Sadly, unexpected tragedies like these are going to happen. At KWIG, we like to say it’s because Murphy had a law – anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. However, having proper risk management processes and insurance coverages in place can provide much-needed help in adverse circumstances. 

Do you have the tools and knowledge to manage your golf course facilities and operations safely? Let’s review the major risks golf courses face and ways to mitigate those risks. 

7 Major Golf Course Risks

Each golf course has its way of operating and unique risk management challenges. However, there are core areas of risk management that apply to all golf course facilities.

  1. Property damage from natural disasters: Severe weather and fire can cause considerable damage to the golf course and its amenities. This is where commercial property insurance coverage kicks in to repair and replace damaged property. If the course is in a flood zone, flood insurance may also be needed to cover flood damage. Inland marine insurance may also be needed to cover equipment, like golf carts and lawn tractors. 
  2. Theft and vandalism: Golf clubs or other personal items left unattended or in the parking lot are at risk for theft and vandalism. As with natural disasters, insurance has you covered if your course is the target of thieves, vandals, and even rioters. Ensure you have adequate outdoor lighting and consider installing security cameras to minimize the threat of theft and vandalism.
  3. Slips, trips and falls: Slips, trips, and falls often occur due to inadequate, slippery or cluttered walking surface conditions, carrying heavy or awkward items, and inappropriate footwear. Keeping the course and amenities in tip-top shape is imperative to preventing slips, trips and falls. General liability insurance will cover the legal expenses in the case of a lawsuit.
  4. Golf cart accidents: Golf carts are extremely useful to workers and players, but they also increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and lawsuits. Take precautions, such as providing cart operation instruction, communicating known course hazards, enforcing rules for cart operation and requiring golfers sign liability waiver, to minimize golf cart accidents. General liability insurance will cover the legal expenses in the case of a lawsuit, and as mentioned above, inland marine insurance will cover any damage to the golf cart itself.
  5. Alcohol-related accidents: On-site restaurants have unique liquor liability and food safety concerns. Minimize alcohol-related accidents by hiring a bartender certified in safe alcohol service, limiting open bar time, serving food with alcohol service and making nonalcoholic options available. General liability insurance protects the golf course in the case of a lawsuit related to an alcohol-related accident.
  6. Special event risks: Tournaments and other special events are great, but they also bring in more foot traffic, which increases the likelihood of slips, trips and falls, theft, vandalism, property damage and more. General liability insurance shields the course from lawsuits and commercial property insurance helps you repair damaged property.
  7. Pollution exposures: Last, but certainly not least, golf courses face unique pollution exposures and risks. Golf courses typically have aboveground storage tanks serving a variety of purposes, such as storing diesel for the golf carts as well as herbicides and pesticides used to maintain the golf course grounds. Golf courses also contain various ponds and water features, which also require proper maintenance because they can carry harmful contaminants throughout the property. Storage facilities onsite holding chemicals and fertilizers are also cause for concern. Environmental insurance, which  is typically excluded from general liability and property insurance policies, provides coverage for losses or damages resulting from unexpected releases of pollutants.

With proper planning, risk management strategies and insurance coverage, you can mitigate the effects of these risks. 

Be Protected for the Unexpected 

For almost 70 years, Kemmons Wilson Insurance Group has worked alongside resorts and golf courses to build custom insurance programs. We get to know your portfolio, make site visits, listen to your team and then craft a specialized insurance product to protect your portfolio. We know your business, because our roots run deep in hospitality. 

Contact an expert at KWIG to review and discuss your insurance and risk management programs.