FORE! That’s usually the word I yell after I hit an errant shot off the tee; or four, the number of putts it took me to sink it on hole number one. When we’re on the golf course, we typically think of the course taking shots from us. However, we don’t always think about the “four” being the number of shirts stolen from a pro shop or the $400 putter swiped from a golf bag.
Each golf course will have its own set of unique security issues due to differences in accessibility, the surrounding community, staff experience, and customer engagement. Nonetheless, there are five universal concerns where any golf course should initially focus its security efforts:
Theft can be a major issue on the golf course. The big news out of the Phoenix Open didn’t just involve Ricky Fowler’s victory in the Waste Management Open. Golf enthusiast and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley had his clubs stolen from the course during a Pro-Am round on the Wednesday prior to the tournament. Archie isn’t the only one to have his bag taken. Recently, courses across the USA have reported clubs and other golf equipment stolen from their members and guests.
In a wide-open area like a golf course, there will inevitably be unattended areas. Vehicle break-ins and graffiti can occur by individuals who don’t have to check in at the clubhouse first. Even after check-in, locker rooms can be lucrative targets of theft when no one is around to change their shoes and keep an eye on the valuables left off the course.
Damage and vandalism are also a major hazard for golf courses. Sergio Garcia was recently disqualified from a European Tour tournament for damaging greens. He was apparently kicking the greens with his heel and damaging the soft surfaces, thus making it difficult for his fellow competitors playing in the groups behind him. Another example of damage occurred at Heron Creek Marsh course in North Port, Florida. A vehicle was driven over the course, with the tires digging into the greens and aprons of the course. The estimated damage was well over $10,000.
Finally, golf is supposed to be a relaxing sport. We play golf not just to get out of the office or spend time with the family. We play golf to put our mind at ease for a few hours. So, neither the course nor the golfers benefit when rowdy groups of onlookers or unwelcome items trespass onto the course during a round. Check with the Pro Shop before you test your new drone to find your ball.
Security cameras are a great tool to help with golf course security, but they are not the be-all-end-all. Cameras can only record things as they happen and will only help after the damage has occurred. Just like other businesses open to the public, golf courses need to be more proactive and less reactive.
One solution can come from having security personnel around the golf course. Courses can either hire a security guard or have current staff members rotate around the area. Having a person actively monitoring high-risk areas at all times will help lower the risk of theft or damage. One course that I play at constantly has a golf pro driving around the course. He helps monitor not only the course boundaries but also the golfers themselves. If anyone is acting out of line or possibly damaging the course, the pro is there to correct the actions and prevent further damage from occurring.
As for outside vandals, having proper fencing, lighting, and security signage can keep unwanted outsiders away from the course and the grass in pristine condition. In the example with the car driving on the course, the vehicle entered from a driveway that was not fenced off. Any open area is a target for vandals and trespassers. Installing the proper type of fence in that area can keep the vehicles off the course, and conditions safe for everyone.
It’s in the Hole!
Lately, thieves have been targeting golf courses and clubhouses. In addition, there has been an increase in damage created by golfers, members, and visitors. In order to help the courses maintain their fresh green looks, new security measures need to be implemented. By making changes such as having an appropriate fence and security signage around the course and adding human monitors to go with proper camera placement, golf courses can keep their “green jackets” and help golfers get from tee to green with as few strokes as possible. In return, the golfers and members can help the course prosper and grow during these difficult times.