Michigan Golf Liability

Michigan Golf Liability

by / Monday, 14 April 2014 / Published in Legal Stories, Michigan Law
Golfer following through with swing after taking a shot

Did you see Bubba Watson become the 17th player to win the Masters more than once yesterday? As they say, you can never have enough green jackets. Digging through old cases I found an interesting one about golf.

What’s the duty one golfer owes to another golfer?

Here was the scenario: two players hit their balls; the player that hit the ball farther went ahead of their opponent and took cover behind a tree to wait for their opponent’s second shot. The player taking the second shot took a long time – 5 to 10 minutes. The player that was standing behind the tree then peeked out, and, of course, as these things go, was hit when the ball was shanked – injuring his right eye.

He sued the other player for golf negligence for failing to adequately warn him of the pending shot. He argued that by taking so long he was negligent when he didn’t warn the other player of the shot.

Wondering what the court held?

Here, there is no dispute that plaintiff knew defendant was preparing to shoot next, that plaintiff drove his golf cart in front of defendant’s ball in contravention of common sense and custom, that plaintiff intended to place himself outside the line of defendant’s shot by positioning himself behind a tree, and that plaintiff was struck when he moved from his place of safety behind that tree. Under such facts, defendant had absolutely no duty to issue an audible warning to plaintiff upon striking his ball because plaintiff was aware of defendant’s intention to play and, to the extent that plaintiff had positioned himself to the right of the green and behind a tree, he was not in the line of play.

The player that went ahead to wait for his friend to shoot into him, deviating from common sense, was precluded from prevailing on his negligence claim. What does that mean for golfers? The court isn’t readily going to find in your favor because you were injured on a golf course. Goodwin & Scieszka wants to remind you that exercising common sense while engaging in an inherently dangerous activity is always a good idea.

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