The game of golf is played with fourteen clubs and one ball at a time. The player selects one club, which will, when correctly swung at the ball, propel that white dimpled ball the appropriate distance in the appropriate direction. Golf is not thought to be particularly dangerous to one’s health – apart from its obsessive psychological manifestation. This can lead to the cessation of long standing relationships, due to neglect of spouse or partner. People do get injured on the golf course, due to accidents and being struck by flying golf balls.
Personal Injury on the Golf Course
One would have to consider oneself pretty unlucky to cop a serious personal injury whilst out on the course. When other players tell you to keep your head down, they are, generally, referring to a swing tip, rather than giving you a warning of an impending incoming golf ball. The accepted term of warning is to loudly shout ‘fore’ in the direction of the player who inhabits the likely landing area of your powerfully struck ball. Indeed, in early golf history, competing players had two caddies – one to carry his golf bag and clubs and another called a fore caddie.
The fore caddie was responsible for following the path of the player’s golf shot and locating his ball down the fairway. Caddies have become obsolete from the game of golf, excepting at the highest level – the professional tours. Quite likely, the presence of so many caddies was prohibitively expensive and one of the reasons why golf was originally an exclusive pastime of the very wealthy. The game still bears remnants of this exclusive past and is why it remains deeply unpopular with some sections of the population.
If one is injured seriously on the golf course, one should seek the services of personal injury lawyers – who can see if some compensatory payment is justified. If the golf course management is liable for civil prosecution on the basis of providing an unsafe environment for players to play the game on their course. Personally, I have been hit in the back with a Pensioner’s full blooded drive, whilst standing on the edge of his fairway – thinking that I was safe behind a tree. I have also, been attacked by magpies protecting their nesting young in spring; and this drew blood from my scalp and was like being king hit unexpectedly from behind. Ah golf don’t you just love it!
Golf, although seen by some to be a rather genteel sport, more of a game really, does involve a small white projectile travelling at around one hundred and fifty miles an hour. If you are struck by this projectile, as I have been, let me tell you, it really hurts and leaves a prodigious bruise. If you are unlucky enough to be struck in the head, then your injuries can be much worse; possibly even fatal. Golfing injuries: who’s legally responsible in sporting accidents?
Traditionally, liability for injury in the sporting arena has been limited because it is acknowledged that all those who choose to enter this arena understand that there are risks of sustaining a personal injury by the very nature of the sporting contest. More recently, however, in this age of blame and opportunism, there have been cases successfully prosecuted under the law of negligence. One such instance did involve an amateur golfer being held liable for failing to ensure that it was reasonably safe before striking his ball and causing injury to another golfer on the course. State government judicial legislature, in many states, has been enacted to prevent an insurance crisis and a recent report finds that the balance now favours defendants in cases involving sporting accidents.
Golf clubs are very proactive in protecting their members and visitors from personal injury being sustained on the golf course. There are signs warning participants, protective barriers, fences and nets erected in potentially dangerous spots and general reminders about safe play out on the course. Despite this there are still people being hit by golf balls during amateur competitions and whilst spectating at professional tournaments. Avaricious lawyers will always encourage victims of personal injury to mount a claim against clubs, courses and their insurance companies. Total and permanent disability claims when someone becomes a quadriplegic, are another matter altogether and these instances must be ruled accordingly to the serious nature of the injury.
Recently at my own golf club there have been a number of cases of residents who live across the road from the course being struck by errant golf balls on their own property. In the US I noted that personal injury suits in these instances have usually been unsuccessful, as the courts deemed a reasonable amount of shared risk must be taken by the home owner who chooses to live adjacent a golf course. In my own course’s experience we are currently attempting to redesign the hole causing the problem in a bid to prevent anyone else being struck by an errant golf ball.