Nine years ago I served on a National Golf Advisory Committee that issued Recommended Best Practices for the resolution of disputes in the golf industry, urging “golf course owners, course managers, builders, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, instructors, players, media, travel providers, and others … to embrace mediation and arbitration as the preferred methods of dispute resolution for golf-related businesses.”
As I noted at the time, the American Arbitration Association responded by creating “a National Golf Industry Panel of mediators and arbitrators who, in addition to dispute resolution process skills, have demonstrable subject matter expertise with the golf industry.”
Paraphrasing one of my Committee colleagues, the idea appeared to be a long road to a small house, as the ensuing years have brought to traction to the idea that golf, with its protocol and rules predicated on honor, would be particularly well-suited to the use of ADR as an alternative to litigation.
Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope, however. Golf Canada, which is our northern neighbor’s counterpart to the United States Golf Association, has adopted a “Dispute Resolution Policy,” in which it publicly “supports the principles of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and is committed to the techniques of negotiation, facilitation, and mediation as effective ways to resolve disputes.” As the policy continues,
“Golf Canada encourages all Participants to communicate openly, and to collaborate and use problem-solving and negotiation techniques to resolve their differences. Golf Canada believes that negotiated settlements are most often preferable to arbitrated outcomes. Negotiated resolutions to disputes with and among Participants are strongly encouraged.”