England Golf issue SafeGolf disciplinary threat to clubs

Chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson has warned action could follow for clubs who have failed to make sufficient progress on gaining accreditation

Clubs who have failed to make sufficient progress on SafeGolf accreditation by the end of the month have been warned they may be sanctioned by England Golf.

In a letter to affiliated clubs, chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson wrote that “failure to provide” evidence of their commitment to the scheme by March 31 could result in the governing body “taking disciplinary action”.

Some managers have been angered by the tone of the email, and NCG has been told a number will contact England Golf to complain – expressing concerns over its timing given clubs in the country have been closed since January 5 by the coronavirus lockdown.

SafeGolf is a partnership of UK golf bodies which are “committed to providing a safe and positive environment for all those participating, working and volunteering”.

It was established to safeguard the welfare of children and young people, as well as adults, in the sport. County bodies, as well as clubs, must be accredited and, outlining the scheme on their website, England Golf say they must negotiate a number of steps, including appointing a welfare officer, ensuring DBS checks are obtained for relevant club personnel, and adopting required club policies.

From the start of next month, SafeGolf becomes a “mandatory term of affiliation to England Golf” and, in recent weeks, clubs have been using social media to hail and display their successful accreditation.

The scheme was first communicated to golf clubs in October 2018 and accreditation was made mandatory in December 2019. Clubs originally had a 12 month deadline to obtain that but it was extended by a further three months in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his letter to clubs that have registered for the SafeGolf scheme but have yet to complete the process, Tomlinson wrote there is “nothing more important [than] safeguarding our sport”.

“I would now ask that your club further demonstrates its commitment to SafeGolf by submitting at least the following evidence to support its application by the end of this month.

  • Policies and accompanying criteria (shown on website, adopted at board/proprietor level)
  • Personnel register (leaving blank any DBS or SPC/TTL workshops that the club are waiting to complete)
  • Club welfare officer role description, club welfare officer poster and details as shown on the club website

“A failure to provide this evidence by March 31 could result in England Golf taking disciplinary action.”

Tomlinson added England Golf were aware there was a small delay in clubs receiving finalised DBS checks, SPC certification or a review from the governing body as a result of the “sheer volume of applicants”.

“I would like to assure clubs who find themselves in this position that no action will be taken if the March 31 cut-off point is missed,” he said.

But the missive, sent as clubs are starting the process of reopening in the run up to golf’s return on March 29 – and in the wake of England Golf’s controversial Independent Golfer scheme to provide non-members with handicaps – has further strained tensions with the governing body inside some clubhouses.

One manager told NCG: “Nobody is challenging the spirit of SafeGolf but the timing is insensitive … again and the threat of disciplinary action is outrageous.

“Does the CEO of our governing body think that threatening clubs with this course of action is conducive to building a healthy working relationship for the future?”

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