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Guidance for parents

Clubs should communicate the following guidance to parents.

Parents have an important role to play in their child’s experience of golf, and are ultimately responsible for their child’s behaviour and conduct. The club has a duty of care towards children when they are playing or socialising at the club, or participating in an activity for or on behalf of the club.

PGA Professionals, coaches, staff and volunteers aim to develop trusting relationships with all junior members. But for their own peace of mind, parents should check the club has appropriate policies to ensure good practice in child protection.

Parents are encouraged to:

  • take an interest in their child’s progress and be supportive;
  • introduce themselves to anyone involved in the supervision of their child, such as the Junior Organiser, PGA professional, coach or Golf Welfare Officer (GWO)
  • find out what the club has to offer in terms of coaching sessions and junior competitions, and any playing restrictions for children;
  • obtain good practice guidance and Codes of Conduct for children from the club, and go through these with their child;
  • find out whether there are any age restrictions for children playing on their own on the course;
  • be punctual when dropping off and picking up their child;
  • make sure their child has everything they need to participate and for the weather conditions;
  • ensure the club has all necessary contact numbers in case of emergency, preferably mobile numbers;
  • advise the GWO or Junior Organiser of their child’s particular needs (e.g. allergies, learning disabilities).
  • discuss any concerns about the organisation of activities or the behaviour of adults towards their child with the GWO;
  • enquire (in England only) whether the Club has achieved, sought or is seeking Golfmark status (www.golfmark.org);
  • enquire (in Wales only) whether the Club has achieved, sought or is seeking Junior GolfCert Accreditation status (www.golfdevelopmentwales.org).

Changing rooms

One of the areas where children are most vulnerable at sports clubs is the locker/changing/shower room, and golf clubs are no different. Obviously people might wish to refresh themselves after taking part in a round of golf, and limited changing facilities often mean that people of all ages need to change and shower in the same area.

To avoid possible misunderstandings or embarrassing situations, adults should exercise care if they are in the changing room at the same time as children. But bullying can be an issue if children are left unsupervised in locker rooms, so a balance needs to be struck depending on the situation.  In general, it is better if one adult is not left alone to supervise a locker room, and extra vigilance may be required if there is public access to the venue. If, in an emergency, a male has to enter a female changing area or vice versa, another adult of the opposite gender should accompany them.

Unless the club has enough space that it’s able to isolate a specific shower cubicle or changing area for juniors, the following advice may be useful:

  • Wherever possible, adults should avoid changing or showering at the same time as children.
  • Parents need to be aware that, on occasion, adults and children may need to share a changing facility.
  • Particular attention should be paid to the supervision of children aged ten and under in changing rooms. It is advisable for adults not to be alone with any child in these circumstances.
  • If children are uncomfortable changing or showering in public, no pressure should be placed on them to do so.

Junior Player Profile Forms

Junior Player Profile Forms will help Junior Organisers address the needs of children who are taking part in their activities. Organisers can use this form to collect information that will enable them to handle accidents and emergencies effectively. 

If a child falls ill or has an accident at the golf club, essential medical information should be available for first-aiders or medical staff. Disabled children will have particular requirements. Not all impairments are immediately apparent, such as learning difficulties, but they can affect a child’s behaviour or their ability to participate. It’s advisable to ask parents for any information that might enhance the child’s involvement and to record this, and parents’ medical consent, on the Junior Player Profile Form.

Note that a timetable for activities should be provided at the beginning of the season and any changes should be notified to parents in writing, wherever practical.

Supervision

The following will help clubs decide how much supervision is appropriate for junior players. Provisions for supervision should reflect what would be suitable in the case of an emergency.

Government guidance outlined in the Care Standards Act 2000 should be followed for all children under the age of eight, taking into account:

  • the age, experience and needs of the children;
  • that the staff and adults who regularly supervise these children have complied with all checks and requirements during recruitment;
  • the number and experience of the adults supervising children;
  • the need for there to be enough staff on hand to deal with or manage any emergency situation (i.e. a minimum of two people);
  • the need for a risk assessment.

Adults and children playing together

One of the reasons golf is so popular is that the game is not restricted by skill, age or gender. It can be enjoyed and keenly contested by players from any number of apparently diverse groups. This diversity, almost totally unique to golf, is always encouraged and is one of the enduring traditions of the game. Every effort should be made to promote this mix of physical and technical ability among players.

Responsible interaction between adults and children bring mutual respect and understanding. Nevertheless, when playing golf with a child, adults should always be aware that certain age-related differences do exist, and should conduct themselves in a manner that recognises this.

Children playing on the course without supervision

Golf courses may have a number of unmanned access and egress points, which limit the ability to supervise children who are playing alone or with another child. But this should not prevent the club from trying to minimise any potential problems.

It’s advisable to have some method for children playing on their own or with another junior to sign in and out, so the club knows they are on the premises. If it isn’t practicable to hold a register, then at the least permission should be gained from parents for their children to be on the club’s premises unsupervised, and this should be included on the Junior Player Profile Form.

The organisation is not responsible for providing adult supervision of children at the club outside of formal coaching, matches or competitions. Parents should be made aware of the circumstances under which the club will or won’t be supervising.

Clubs should consider recommending to parents an age under which children should not play unsupervised. This should be determined by a number of factors, such as whether the club has public footpaths crossing it, whether there is a known problem with strangers coming onto the course, whether the course covers a large area that takes players a considerable distance from the clubhouse, etc.

Once parents are aware of this recommendation, children who fall into this category should not play alone, with other juniors or with adults in club competitions unless they are accompanied by their parents or a person appointed by their parents.