The number one goal of every club owner and manager should be the safety and comfort of their members and guests. You can meet that goal by providing comfort stations at appropriate points on your course.
While there are no standards requiring golf course owners to equip their courses with comfort stations – known in various parts of the country as safety shelters, halfway houses, turn buildings, rest stops, etc. – the structures are welcomed additions to any golf course. The buildings provide respite for various purposes: protection from inclement weather, double as rest rooms or concession stands, or simply to provide shaded relief from a hot, summer sun.
No matter their purpose, comfort stations should be well-built, strategically located, blend in aesthetically with the course, and be included on the course maintenance schedule. They should comply with local, city, county, and/or state building codes including handicap-accessible standards. Depending on where your club is located, comfort stations should be built to account for hurricane-force winds, earthquakes, or heavy snow. Even a basic, open-sided structure should have a properly secured concrete foundation, anchored supports, and roof.
Factors to take into account when considering where comfort stations should be placed include:
· Distance from the clubhouse: One comfort station on each nine located in the farthest areas from the clubhouse.
· Adjacent exposures: It should go without saying, but comfort stations should not be placed in the field of play. Also, exposures such as neighboring structures, poor terrain should be considered.
· Use of utilities: If your comfort stations feature concessions and/or restrooms, they will require utilities such as plumbing, electricity, and/or gas.
· Government requirements: Federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations may dictate where you may or may not place comfort stations on your course. For example, if the land on which your course is built features environmentally sensitive areas, the EPA may not permit structures to be built on them.
Daily inspections, housekeeping, and maintenance of your comfort stations are very important. While the purpose of the structures is to provide your members and guests relief and shelter, comfort stations can also pose liability exposures. Common complaints from golfers at these shelters are slips, trips, and falls on smooth or wet surfaces. Rubber mats and slip-resistive epoxy coatings can help reduce the potential for such incidents as well as your exposure.
Golfers come in all shapes, sizes, and physical capabilities. Many physically challenged individuals play the game and those who are members or guests of your club should expect to be able to enjoy a pleasant – and safe -- round of golf at your club. Your clubhouse no doubt meets handicapped standards; your comfort stations should meet them as well.
Lightning can occur anytime, anywhere, so no matter the size or design of your comfort stations, they should feature lightning protection. A lightning protection system forms a continuous conductive path for lightning current to follow, directing the current to the ground. Even the smallest shelter should have the basic elements of a lightning protection system:
· At least one air terminal (rod)
· At least two – preferably four – down conductors on two diagonally opposite sides of the building.
· Ground terminals connected to the down conductors
If ANY structure on your course – including comfort stations – does not offer lightning protection, you should post a statement of that fact on the structure. Members, guests, and employees should avoid these unprotected buildings during thunderstorms.
To minimize your club’s liability exposure and to reduce the potential for loss, comfort stations on your course should be inspected regularly and preventive maintenance performed as standard club practice. On a daily basis:
· Remove debris and perform general housekeeping.
· Lock all doors when not in use.
· Check the condition of walking surfaces, utilities, pest control, etc.
On a monthly basis:
· Inspect fire and lightning protection systems.
· Inspect all lighting fixtures.
On a semi-annual or annual basis:
· Test fire and lightning protection systems.
· Inspect the condition of the entire structure (roof, siding, etc.)
Comfort stations are designed to provide what their name implies: comfort for your members and guests. Proper planning and risk management will reduce the potential for loss and ensure the safety and security of all who use your facility. We suggest you consult with a qualified electrical contractor, your local fire department, your legal counsel, and broker or insurance provider prior to installing, replacing, or upgrading lightning and fire protection systems in your comfort stations.
David A. Harnois, CCM, is a proud employee-owner of Affinity Club Underwriters, specializing in commercial and group program business. David provides insurance solutions for hundreds of clubs throughout the world. He may be reached at (973) 984-1000 x111 or at www.affinityclubs.com.
Founded in 2007, Affinity Club Underwriters is a wholesale program insurance provider specializing in the club, golf and hospitality sector. They offer claims management services; operations and coverage audits; policy and information storage and archaeology; RFP preparation; market analysis; and help in developing specific loss control programs. Affinity is the exclusive provider of the Affinity Club Program for private and semi-private golf and country club venues. Affinity is the only insurance program administrator led by golf industry experts.