Be Careful, Don’t Get Shot Due to Your Errant Golf Ball

Errant Golf BallThese days golf course developers seem to put homes directly on top of golf courses, so much so that there is not much room between the tee box and a house window.  Real estate around the golf course is sold at a premium, and in recent years developers have gotten more and more aggressive with  house placements.  As a lefty, I tend to pull the ball, and I have to admit, a few of my errant golf balls may have hit a house or two off poor tee shots, but I have never gotten shot!

Last September, while playing at Lakeridge Golf Course in Reno, NV, an unidentified golfer shanked a ball off the tee, couldn’t find the tee shot and ended up taking a drop.   What happened next is absolutely unbelievable, Jeff Fleming, a resident in the community shot the golfer.

Fleming (the shooter) states that the ball “came crashing through the bedroom window and it startled him, he thought he was being shot at.”  According to Fleming’s lawyer, “Fleming shot at the golfer from some 50 yards away in an attempt to scare him, not injure him.”  The injured golfer was treated at the hospital for minor arm and leg injuries.

Fleming was able to convince the judge that he had no malicious intent to injure the individual–just to scare him away.  On Friday, the judge sentenced Fleming to probation for five years in Washoe County District Court and $1,000 fine.

Errant Golf BallLiability For Errant Golf Balls

So, after hearing about this incident I started to think, what is the liability for errant golf balls?

After researching the topic, I came to a fairly clear legal conclusion: A golfer is generally not liable for injuries or damage caused by the golfer, except in situations where the golfer is negligent, reckless, or acting with intent.  So, just because a home is too close for your liking, you cannot line up directly at the house and swing away.  As long as you act reasonably responsible while playing, you will not be held liable for your errant golf balls.

Also, I found this crazy article about how this guy’s errant golf ball hit his own car.




  • Keith Cook

    Have never been shot at on a golf course – and hope to never be – but have played in a group on one occasion where a member of our foursome was threatened by a homeowner for hitting into his yard. It didn’t initially start off that great
    between the two of them but we calmed everything down in the end. Almost couldn’t blame the homeowner because he
    was just relaxing on his patio and then a ball bounces in … BUT, he bought a home on a golf course. And his home was on the right side of a long Par 4 with water on the left. Maybe he wasn’t a golfer and didn’t understand that his house was right in the landing range of a normal driver off the tee …. maybe he was a golfer and didn’t care. As a homeowner, I would think those questions would come up in buying a home on a course.

    However, sometimes golf courses are to blame based on the set-up of tees and design of holes in these communities. There’s a course in San Antonio where a home had been repeatedly pelted by golf balls because the home is at the inside corner of a very short dogleg Par 4 in which (IF) you carry the house, you’ll be on the green. The locals called the house “The Old Course Hotel”. The homeowner got so sick of it, he sued the course and for a while the hole itself was shut down. Finally the course and the homeowner came to the very logical conclusion of dropping the tee box back and to the right almost 100-yards which forced the golfer to hit away from the house into the fairway and actually allowed a row of trees to come into play and protect the house itself.

    • Joe Boto

      That makes sense Keith, I wonder why more golf courses do not come to their senses.