Golf Play Negligence

A Judge has ruled that a jury must take into account whether a golfer was negligent when his ball hit a woman in her course-side yard.

The woman is suing the golfer for failing to aim properly, failing to execute his swing, and failing to warn her. I can buy the last—many don’t yell Fore soon enough—but if failing to execute a swing constitutes legal negligence, the entire sport would close down. Even PGA Tour professionals fail to execute their swings on occasion.

She may not like the consequences of living next to a course—like occasionally coming under golf ball fire—but you can bet she’d scream bloody murder if the course were to close. I have no idea how they’d prove negligence, though. Everyone hits had shots, and sometimes they go unexpected places.

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4 thoughts on “Golf Play Negligence”

  1. So I just did some googling and this isn’t as cut and dried as I thought it was.  My understanding was that you are not responsible for an errant shot which causes injury, goes into a house, breaks a windshield.  I have been told this on many occasions.

    However – my google search reveals that it is dependant on the locality and that the golfer and/or the course could be liable in some places – but it seems like such recoveries are rare compared to how many times the damage or injury probably occurs.

    Yelling “Fore” however, I think is a necessity.  It is a requirement in the rules of conduct at our course, but it is probably the most often broken one.  In my golf group the only voice I ever hear yelling Fore is usually mine, and I am not the only one hitting an errant shot.  I am horribly fearful of putting a ball into the residental water hazard and hitting the wildlife (the 7 year old in a pool).

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  2. Last year, one of the guys in my group, who plays to about an 8 cut a second shot hard into a yard off the left side.  It is a long, straight, par 4 (410 from white), with water crowding the right and houses crowding the left. 

    Honestly, with his velocity, his yelling Fore wouldn’t have reached the ears of a bystander quickly enough for them to react.  He dropped another and promptly repeated his action – the poor SOB.  The second clanged hard against a iron fence around a garden.  We play to ESC max, so he was out at that point and he went to retrieve his balls.  He started to cross the split rail when he was met by the lady of the house who was actually feet from each of the balls as they came to rest.  She was extremely ticked, and I think rightly so.  John didn’t pick up on the prickly nature of the encounter fast enough and asked if she could return his balls which caused her to go into a full fledged tirade.  He was clearly at fauilt for these two balls, but the lady I think was also taking out some frustration at the amount of balls which regularly landed in her garden and bounced of her house (and honestly, I have put more than one on her deck and side of her house).

    I felt for both John and the lady.  She honestly probably did not understand the line of fire she was buying into (her husband may have)- and with every deck, rock wall, and railing they put in (and there are a number of them) – they turned their house into a virtual pinball machine.  John had two bad shots on the #1 hdcp hole on the course,  and put two balls into the same yard that he had surely seen other balls land and was the recipient of a tongue lashing.  But still had he yelled “Fore” each time it might have gone better.

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  3. There is a layout in West Bloomfield, MI, named Shenandoah Golf Course.  I have played it a few times over the past 25 years and I always have to chuckle when I play a particular par-3 on the back nine.

    The hole plays 185 to 190 yards and many players hit mid-irons or more.  Unfortunately, a right-handed slice brings a home right of the green into play.  Apparently this has happened so often that the homeowner has literally draped their yard in netting.  It looks like a moth (the home) trapped in a large spider web.

    I always wondered when the owner sold the house whether he would list the home in the Winter and remove the netting.  In my mind the imaginery conversation went something like this:

    Buyer: “Ever have any trouble with errant golf balls?”

    Seller: “No.  In fact, look at the siding, not a dent or nick anywhere.”

    I thoroughly agree with the Golf Blogger that when one buys a home on a golf course, one must be prepared to deal with the consequences of errant shots.  Too many people see a course as free green-space in their backyard and do not consider the hazards of living along a fairway.  Of course, the developers have some culpability in allowing homes to be located too close to the course or at the inside turn of a dogleg.

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