Changes to Course Access Policy
The Equality Act 2010 provided updated guidance for private clubs in March 2013. This advisory gave guidance on policies which should be adopted to make access to golf clubs and other organisations fair and equitable to all groups. These policies came into effect at City of Newcastle Golf Club in 2013.
At the 2013 AGM, members decided, by rote, to keep our playing restrictions as they were. This was fine as long as no one challenged the policy.
In June and July of 2016 a number of members questioned whether our policies were in breach of the discrimination act. Specifically, whether it was discrimination against women members to allow men who were not playing in the competition to play in the reserved times, but not allow women the same access. The club was obliged to take action to consider these challenges.
A sub committee was formed from the main committee members, consisting of Pam Oliver, Jan Robinson, Zena Wallace, John Franklin, Anthony Stevenson and Michael Walker. They were tasked with looking into the issue and coming up with a proposal that satisfied the requirements of the equality act.
The sub committee, having taken advice from England Golf, concluded that the clubs existing policy was indeed in breach of the act.
The sub committee, taking extensive advice from England golf, concluded there were 3 options
1- Do nothing and risk legal action
2- Remove all playing restrictions so that any member could play at any time.
3- Introduce restrictions which were not based on a protected characteristic. ie sex, disability etc.
A full list of protected characteristics can be found here-
After careful consideration of the implication of each option, the sub committee came up with the current policy which was accepted by the General committee.
Firstly. It was apparent that some adjustments needed to be made in the clubs policy in order to comply with legislation.
Secondly, it was concluded that playing restrictions needed to be imposed in order to satisfy the demand for tee times during men's competitions, the peak period busy 7-10am.
England Golf advised that it was acceptable for a club to retain weekly times for competition play only.
The best way to fulfil all of the above was to impose restrictions based on eligibility to play in the competition in question, hence the new playing restriction policy.
Details of the legislation can be found here -