If you are involved with a dispute or a disciplinary matter, whether you are a golf club or county official, or a member or visitor at a golf club, you should bear in mind the following principles:
- Disputes should be dealt with, in the first instance, at their most local level. This means that a dispute arising at a club should be dealt with by the club.
- Any club or county dealing with a dispute should ensure that it has in place appropriate disciplinary rules and procedures.
- It is expected that every disciplinary matter should be dealt with in a manner consistent with the principles of natural justice. This means ensuring that the accused is given adequate notice of the accusation and/or charges brought against them, that there is a fair hearing or process, and that there is no bias or conflict of interest in dealing with the matter. Put simply, the accused must have the opportunity to have their side of the story heard, and have their case dealt with by people who do not have any vested interest in the outcome of the matter.
- Remember that there is a contractual relationship between a club and a member regardless of whether there is a signed written agreement. It will likely be an express or implied term of that contract that the club will follow the rules and regulations that it puts in place to manage complaints and disputes. If a club fails to follow its own rules and regulations, a member might accuse the club of breaching the membership contract.
Involving Devon Golf and England Golf
Devon Golf is a county governing body for amateur golf, England Golf is a national governing body for golf, but both are not regulatory bodies. This means that we do not have the regulatory power to impose our decisions or judgment on clubs or (county bodies ref England Golf) in the vast majority of cases.
Devon and England Golf has in place Disciplinary Regulations , and whilst both organisations may decide to take its own disciplinary action following any complaint or grievance brought to our attention, we will not act or advocate for or on behalf of any individual, club, (or county ref England Golf) in a disciplinary matter.
We are generally unable to become involved in, or to interfere with, matters of day-to-day club (or county management ref England Golf). This means that, whilst we can give guidance to individuals, clubs (and counties ref England Golf) on such matters, we will generally not be able to interfere with or take enforcement action in matters related to:
- Member suspensions, bans or club level disciplinary matters;
- Membership fee or subscription refunds;
- Other contractual disputes between clubs and members;
- Corporate governance issues such as breaches of a club’s constitution;
- Club or county squad selection issues.
It is open to individuals to ask the relevant county body to hear an appeal of any disciplinary matter that they are involved with at club level. However, whether or not a county body can hear an appeal or intervene in a disciplinary matter will depend on the rules of the golf club. There is no automatic right to an appeal to the county.
(Likewise, England Golf only has a limited ability to deal with appeals from county-level decisions. There is no automatic right to an appeal to England Golf).
For Further Assistance
The Civil Mediation Council has a useful tool to find mediation services near you