These 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.
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.