While golf is often seen as a sedate leisurely sport, one with little in the way of physical contact and a huge area in which to play, sporting and accident-related injuries are relatively common.
A recent report by the Golf Support website highlighted the fact it is more dangerous to play golf than it is rugby. While this information is based on 8.6 million sporting and recreational related injuries in the US, it cast a very interesting light on this “sedate” sport.
How dangerous is playing golf in the UK?
A further report by Compare Golfing Insurance confirms that the situation in the UK is very similar to the US. This is a selection of data from the research:-
- One in 10 golfers are injured while playing.
- 20% of these injuries were severe/life-threatening.
- 33,000 golfers have been hospitalised due to injuries.
- 327,000 golfers have injured/came close to injuring another party.
- 23% of golfers have damaged/nearly damaged other people’s property.
- 36% of golfers have witnessed another player being injured.
So, it would appear that golf is a much more dangerous sport than many of us would ever have assumed!
What are the most common accidents on the golf course?
Obviously, in order to pursue a personal injury compensation claim for an accident on a golf course, you need to demonstrate a degree of negligence by another party. Unfortunately, there would appear to be a huge range of potential accidents on the golf course which include:-
While often portrayed as comical, many people each year are injured by wayward golf clubs when a player loses their grip in mid-swing. When you consider the size and the weight of modern-day golf clubs, flying through the air at a rate of knots has the potential to cause significant damage to other golfers or spectators. Even though many people “escape” with relatively minor injuries, there are many who experience broken bones, concussions and worse.
Golf buggy injuries
Many of us see golf buggies as relatively slow and harmless vehicles which trudge along at a fairly sedate pace. Unfortunately, while they may be relatively light compared to a family car, they can still cause considerable damage. Some of the more common accidents with golf buggies involve:-
- Crashes due to lack of attention by the driver.
- Passengers fooling around.
- People failing to abide by safety guidelines.
- Collisions with other golf buggies.
- Faulty brakes.
- Unkempt fairways.
While these are very useful vehicles for getting around the golf course, they need to be treated and handled with respect. They are not a toy!
Golf ball injuries
As you might have guessed, injuries caused by wayward golf balls are the most comment on the golf course. While cries of “fore” when a player hits a wayward shot are a useful warning, unless you have an idea where the ball is coming from, it is difficult to pick up mid-flight. While professional golfers can hit the ball for huge distances, even amateur golf players are able to hit the ball with incredible power. However, the lower down the pecking order the less control players seem to have.
Consequently, head injuries, eye injuries and bruises around the body are commonplace on the golf course. The severity of these injuries can range from relatively mild to serious and life-threatening.
Golf course negligence
As with any “business premises”, because that is what the golf course is in reality, the owner/manager has a legal obligation to ensure it is maintained in the correct manner. Some of the more common issues include:-
- Failure to clean up litter and broken glass.
- Sand traps.
- Cracked pathways.
- Water hazards.
- Lack of fencing around dangerous areas (legal obligation).
- Inadequate warning signs.
Some may dismiss warning signs as irrelevant but unless you are fully up to speed with both golfing etiquette and the structure of the course you are playing, there are potential dangers. If the owner/manager of the golf course is found to be negligent, resulting in injury, they may be forced to pay compensation for personal injuries on business premises.
Regular risk assessments for golf courses
As if to reiterate the fact that the golf course is a “business premises”, owners/managers are legally obliged to carry out regular risk assessments. Under the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 they have a legal obligation not only employees but also clients, spectators and third-party marshals on competition days.
This risk assessment obligation includes the need to address potential issues on the golf course, where perhaps regular injuries occur in a particular area. If unable to make changes to the structure/design of the golf course, or erect safety fencing, at the very minimum there must be relevant warning signs. Failure to carry out regular risk assessments is in itself a form of negligence and would weaken any defence when faced with a claim for personal injury compensation.
While many of us automatically assume that safety on the golf course is a relatively simple affair, common sense if you like, there are an array of legal obligations on players, spectators and course managers/owners. Therefore, if you have been injured on the golf course as a consequence of negligence it is important to take advice as soon as possible. From a layman’s perspective, it is not always obvious who may be liable.