A long-term partnership with its insurance team helps the PGA TOUR focus on holding well-run events at efficiently managed properties.
Playing a round of golf is meant to be peaceful and relaxing, and attending a professional golf tournament is meant to be exciting and a great experience. But for those objectives to be met, an accident-free environment must be provided for participants. And that’s not easy—because playing golf recreationally, or watching it as a spectator, can actually take people into some of the most hazardous realms of the sports world.
In a recent article in Occupational Health & Safety magazine, ominously titled “Can Sports Kill You?”, Gil Fried, a Professor of Sports Management at the University of New Haven, presented findings from a study of workplace-related deaths and injuries in sports-related businesses. Measured against the incident rate (113.3) for all private businesses in 2008, golf courses, and spectator sports, actually showed higher risk factors than the norm (see table).
Professor Fried added these observations about the particular dangers that can lurk within golf course operations: “Golf courses had 95 percent more ‘cut’ injuries and 195.5 percent more machine-related injuries, possibly from working on golf carts, retooling clubs, and working with vegetation-cutting machines,” he wrote. “Other major concerns at golf courses included a 58.3 percent increase in injuries associated with chemical and hazardous material exposure, and an 84.3 percent increase in transportation-related injuries.”
Way Over Par
A study showed that golf courses and spectator sports have higher incident rates for workplace-related deaths and injuries than the norm (113.3) for all private businesses.
SOURCE: OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY, OCTOBER 2011
What does this all mean for those who manage golf courses and country clubs, especially at properties where open-to-the-public events occur? The message is clear: Ensuring that golfers can safely enjoy their rounds, and that golf fans can safely watch events, isn’t something that happens by accident. Rather, it requires a comprehensive and consistent plan, to address the many facets of risk management that come with running diverse operations that are spread out over large properties, and include both indoor and outdoor exposures.
Having, and sticking to, such a plan is especially critical for a high-profile organization—and in the golf world, no group has higher or more sustained visibility than the PGA TOUR, which stages professional tournaments that attract tens of thousands of spectators per week, and also operates or licenses over 30 daily-fee, resort and private properties across the U.S. through its Tournament Players Club (TPC) Network.
It’s not surprising, then, that the TOUR has long placed a premium on diligent risk management, aggressive identification and control of potential exposures and liabilities, and development of flexible and customized insurance coverage for its tournaments and properties. This approach has allowed the TOUR’s club and event managers to focus on providing memorable service and experiences, with the confidence that everything has been done to create and secure as safe an environment as possible for all who may be involved—guests, members, players, volunteers, vendors, staff, etc.—and that proper coverage and provisions are in place to properly and thoroughly respond to any incidents that might occur.
The groundwork for this approach was laid 25 years ago, when the PGA TOUR first partnered with The Travelers Companies for property and casualty insurance coverage. A bond was forged among Travelers, the PGA TOUR and Integro Insurance Brokers, and a fourth leg was added from the start to make the stool even sturdier, through Travelers’ Eagle 3SM property and casualty insurance program.
The PGA TOUR was instrumental in helping Travelers create Eagle 3, which customizes coverage for individual facilities through a tailored and flexible approach. “Eagle 3 is a product that’s been endorsed by the TOUR since its inception,” says Andrea King, Senior Vice President, Treasury & Administration, for the TOUR. “We were pleased to have the opportunity to work with Travelers to help with the development of appropriate insurance coverage that could grow with our facilities and meet their dynamic and evolving needs.”
In the early days, says Bob Goldthorp of Integro Insurance Brokers, those “evolving needs” led to quite a weighty product, as Eagle 3 was shaped to embrace the full scope of the many risk-management challenges that face club and golf facilities. “Virtually all areas of risk control at a country club, including liquor liability, swimming pool liability, golf car safety and more, went into massive three-ring binders,” recalls Goldthorp, who has been part of the Travelers/PGA TOUR team for the entire 25 years. “It wasn’t too long before we had stacks of books four feet tall.”
As technology also evolved, Eagle 3’s physical profile was greatly streamlined, first through electronic storage on computer disks, and now through extensive web-based support. But the product, and its reach, has never stopped growing. Last year, Travelers issued its latest enhancements of Eagle 3, to once again respond to the never-ending need for “more flexibility and broader coverage to manage key exposures in today’s economy,” according to Ric Sirmans, Underwriting Manager for Travelers National Programs.
Travelers continues to structure the protections that Eagle 3 provides around what it calls the “Front 9” of common exposures at golf and club facilities. The product’s latest enhancement addressed how many of those facilities have grown to now have several active “businesses” operating within their location—such as restaurants, additional recreational activities such as swimming and tennis, and retail stores—each of which has its own unique set of exposures. To add to customers’ ability to use Eagle 3 to cost-effectively tailor their coverage according to a particular property’s profile, the product now offers new increased liability limits, along with features such as expanded errant-ball coverage to cover damage beyond automobiles, and an endorsement for food contamination cost reimbursement at restaurants and snack bars within the facility.
The latest release of Eagle 3 also includes these broadened features:
- Members & Guests Miscellaneous Property coverage, covered up to $5,000 per member or guest for a covered cause of loss including theft. No deductible, no policy aggregate and valued at replacement cost.
- Golf Specific Property and Equipment coverage, including permanently installed betterments. Items covered include range nets, fences, signs, scoreboards, bridges, cart paths, fountains, pumps, sprinkler systems, lightning detection systems, alarm systems, light fixtures, poles, bells, misting systems, tennis courts, swimming pools, monuments, GPS systems, flags, cups, benches, ball washers, course markers, water coolers, grills, outdoor furniture, etc., all valued at replacement cost.
- Golf Course Greens, Tees, Fairways and Roughs coverage for named perils. including the weight of ice or snow.
- Trees, Plants and Shrubs coverage, including debris removal for named perils including the weight of ice or snow.
- Business Income and Extra Expense coverage for golf course trees, shrubs, plants and lawns due to actual loss of business income sustained due to the necessary suspension of the golf operation.
- Errant Golf Ball coverage of up to $1,500 per loss and $5,000 for any one location per policy period, with no deductible.
- Hole-in-One Reimbursement coverage that pays up to $250 per hole-in-one for credits at the pro shop. Coverage is limited to $2,000 per policy period.
- Golf Course Vehicles and Equipment coverage, including golf cars that are owned, leased, rented or borrowed, with replacement cost coverage.
From the PGA TOUR’s perspective, the latest round of improvements in the Eagle 3 product is just par for the course they first began to walk pleasantly with Travelers 25 years ago. The degree of customization for the TOUR’s needs is especially acute, to also involve the many additional coverage aspects that arise when spectators, volunteers, media and other factors come into play as tournaments are staged.
“Travelers has been a remarkable and very strong partner, from the aspect of always helping us look at our properties and activities and anticipate the next steps that are needed to try to stay ahead of risk-control issues,” says King. “From the beginning of the relationship, we’ve established an ongoing process for a dialogue between our properties’ managers and those of us at the corporate level and those on the Travelers team, for regular reviews of operational plans and appropriate adjustments, on a facility-by-facility basis, of coverage and risk-control measures.” Through this approach, King says, the TOUR, and its individual properties, have drawn comfort from the “sense that we are able to manage risk to the best degree possible, and focus on the quality of our operations.”
Much of that comfort, she adds, comes from trust established during the earliest days of the relationship. “Even when we’ve encountered claims or difficult circumstances, Travelers has always felt like a partner, not an opponent, and it’s been clear that everyone on their team wants to assist us in a fair, equitable and appropriate fashion,” she says. “In the moments of truth, the focus stays on properly securing our assets with coverage that meets out needs.”information