Some 60% of golf courses across the UK have instituted a smoking ban because of unprecedented dry and “tinder box” conditions, especially in the southeast and northwest of England. The Golf Club Managers Association is urging those clubs that have not yet done so to “urgently consider” the dangers involved with allowing golfers to smoke while playing.
Sustained hot weather in the United Kingdom has prompted golf course operators to tell golfers they can no longer light up while playing, reported BBC News.
The Golf Club Managers Association (GCMA) found that 60% of clubs in the UK have temporarily banned smoking because of the heatwave conditions this summer, the BBC reported
The GCMA said other courses should urgently consider the smoking ban, the BBC reported.
Many golfers who smoke will lay cigarettes down on the grass to keep their hands free while playing shots, increasing the potential risk for starting fires, the BBC reported.
James Hutchinson, from the British and International Green Keepers Association, told the BBC that many courses were like a tinder box.
“It is a massive issue,” said Hutchinson. “I’ve been in the industry since 1988 and we have had one other summer I remember that was anywhere close to being as dry as this. This decision of so many clubs to ban smoking is highly unusual.”
Courses across the UK have taken the step, with most in the southeast and northwest of England in particular known to have introduced a ban, the BBC reported.
“This is unprecedented and has never happened before, even in 1976,” said Jim Cunning, Golf Management Adviser at the GCMA. “Courses have got to do their own risk assessments, but as a practical measure this is something they should urgently consider. The deep rough is a particular risk, and fires could easily spread into trees or across moorland which is adjacent to many courses.”
Last month a fire broke out at a nature reserve next to St. Anne’s Old Links Golf Club in Lancashire, the BBC reported. Secretary Jane Donohue said it happened two days before final qualifying for the Open Championship was staged at the venue.
“We had our hearts in our mouths for a few hours,” said Donohue. “There were four or five fire engines and we were using hosepipes to stop the fire from jumping on to the course.”
Once the event had finished, the club made the decision to ban smoking for all members and visitors, the BBC reported.
At St. Enodoc Golf Club in Cornwall, a small fire caused by a cigarette also prompted the ban, the BBC reported.
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