Golf Course Law: How inaccurate yardage markers cost one golf course millions

There are numerous potential hazards on golf courses – which don’t involve water or sand.  Your golf course may be ripe with legal hazards, which will be far more expensive than a 2-stroke penalty.

Have you ever thought about potential liability regarding your distance markers?  In a recent case, a golf course owner was deemed responsible for making sure that yardage markers embedded in the fairway or painted on the cart path were accurate.  What happened?  In this particular case, one golfer hit another golfer standing on the green with his ball.  The golfer on the green sued the golfer that hit him (because golfers are just about always responsible for damages incurred from their ball).  In turn, the golfer that hit the ball sued the golf course owner, claiming that the course mislead him because an inaccurate yardage marker indicated that he was farther away than he actually was.  The yardage marker was actually inaccurate, and the golf course incurred liability.

How does this happen?  Although the facts of the case don’t indicate the cause of the inaccurate yardage marker, there is one distinct possibility – course redesign.  Many times, golf course architects will move green complexes or reroute holes.  After construction is completed, it is easy to forget to check each and every sprinkler head to ensure that it has the new yardage, especially with the proliferation of laser based personal devices.  Such forgetfulness may be viewed by a court as negligence, and therefore, attention to details such as the accuracy of distance markers should be in the back of the mind of every golf professional and course owner.

For more information on golf course legal hazards, or to schedule a legal audit of your golf facility, please call Edward Price at 410-528-7205 ext. 101.