Renowned golf course architect Dr. Mike Hurdzan has authored an authoritative text EVERYONE in the golf industry should have AND READ.
“Golf & Law – Golf Course Safety, Security & Risk Management” is a fascinating look at the often overlooked safety “hazards” at golf courses and clubs. An expert witness in more than 160 cases, Hurdzan has achieved the elusive goal of provoking thought that I know will change how I look at golf courses moving forward and suspect others in the industry will as well.
As an avid golfer and a golf property analyst, I (like many others) have perceived the fields of our avocational pursuit through the lens of the golfer seeking nirvana and through the eyes of those seeking to understand the value of the property and maximize the economic benefits of golf and club operations and management.
In the book, Hurdzan shares his observations from cases ranging from alligator attacks on golfers to bodily and property damage from errant golf shots, golf cars and paths, floods, lightning strikes and even murders of golfers on the course.
There are sections on the impact of drugs and alcohol, health hazards on the golf course and other less familiar hazards found on the golf course. The author ably discusses how to avoid expensive and stressful lawsuits and offers suggestions for making golf courses safer, including a blueprint for doing a golf course safety SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) Analysis.
An excellent example is the author’s observation of golf course ponds. Golfers simply see a pond as a hazard (now penalty area) to be avoided with their golf shots. The golf course operator sees a feature that can separate play and impact pace of play, as well as a potential safety hazard to golfers and an attractive nuisance to trespassers. The golf course superintendent sees a storage area for irrigation water or an environmental area. Hurdzan opens our eyes to the steepness of Banks bordering the pond and how they’re maintained. He looks for warnings about pond life (alligators or snakes) or what water quality issues may exist. He evaluates how easy it might be for someone to fall on and how easy or difficult it would be to escape the pond. He questions whether adequate safety or rescue equipment is available. Are the various hazards in plain view?
Accidents with golf carts happen quite frequently. Hurdzan details many of these incidents and offers ideas on avoidance, including examples of poorly maintained carts or poorly designed and maintained paths.
“Golf & Law” also describes how laws can vary in different jurisdictions and suggests that all golf courses and clubs establish safety committees, learn the laws of their state and be proactive about golf course safety to avoid not only injury and property damage but the litigation that often results.
I finished the book in one cross-country flight and couldn’t put it down. I strongly recommend it as a “must read” for all golf course/club owners, leaders, managers, superintendents, consultants and golf professionals.
Great job Mike!