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Golf Club ordered to pay £397,000 to golfer blinded by wayward shot

Despite a shout of ‘Fore!’, and trying to duck out of the way, a golfer was struck in the eye and has been awarded £397,000 in damages.

Anthony Phee who was a visiting golfer playing Niddry Castle Golf Club, Winchburgh, West Lothian was struck by a ball whilst walking between holes with his golfing companions. The ball was hit by James Gordon who was on the 18th tee. The ball was intended to be driven down the right side of the fairway but a ‘duck hook’ ensued causing the ball to veer sharply left.

Mr Phee said that he had ducked and put his hand up when he heard the cry of “Fore”, but he did not know where the ball was coming from. Unfortunately this defensive action did not stop the ball striking him in the eye which “exploded” on impact. Mr Phee sued both the player who struck the shot, Mr Gordon, and also the golf club. Anthony Phee told the court he was unfamiliar with the layout of Niddry Castle golf course.

The judge in session, Lord Brailsford, said ‘that every golfer, no matter his or her degree of competence, will make bad shots’, highlighting that all golfers should be aware of the potential consequences of hitting a wayward shot.

Mr Phee commented “No-one expects to lose an eye when they go to play golf and adjusting to partially losing my sight has been a harrowing experience. I now just want to move on with my life”.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh awarded damages of £397,000 with Lord Brailsford deciding that Niddry Castle Golf Club was 80% liable or £318,000 and Mr Gordon from Livingston 20% liable or £79,400!

Paul Wilson, Director of The Golfers Club, the UK’s leading premium golf insurer commented: ‘This reminds me of the Court of Appeal ruling in another case that stated ‘‘Golfers are liable for shots that cause injury no matter how slight the risk’’. Golf Clubs and golfers are too often unaware that they can be sued for damages as a result of a wayward shot. The consequences of being sued can easily be avoided by simply ensuring all golfers are insured for Personal Liability whilst playing the course’.

The Daily Telegraph

Fore! Golfers are liable for shots that cause injury - The Daily Telegraph

FORE! Magazine

"...judges have ruled... whether the injury was a freak accident or not, any golfer who injures someone could be sued for damages" - FORE! Magazine

Golf World

"The message to all golfers of all standards is clear, if you want to avoid shelling out thousands of pounds in the courts you simply must get specialist golf insurance" - Golf World

The Independent

Golfers in the rough over injury claims

GOLFERS across Britain may be forced to take out insurance against causing other injury to other players after a court ruled that errant players are liable for accidents - no matter how slight the risk, writes Andrew Buncombe.

The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld a county court ruling that Anthony Lightening was liable to pay damages to a fellow golfer who was hit in the eye with a stray ball. He was trying to hit a ball over a coppice towards the green, but it struck a tree, deflected at right angles and hit John Pearson, standing between 80 and 90 yards away on the next fairway. Mr Pearson was "poleaxed" and has not been able to play golf since.

Three appeal court judges decided that Mr Lightening was liable even though he had shouted "fore" when the ball was mis-hit. Mr Lightening's solicitor, Peter Shergold, said after the hearing that the ruling would affect all golfers and their approach to playing any shot when other players were around.

"The dilemma will be whether to get on with the game and abide by the rules or to wait until the area is completely clear of other players so that they do not set themselves up to the risk of being sued," he said. The damages will be assessed at another hearing at the county court in Southampton where both players live.

- The Independent