Spectator sues golf club after ball hits his head 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir December 12, 2020 07:57

A spectator who was hit by a ball during a tournament has become the latest to sue both the golfer who struck the ball and the golf club where the incident happened.

He is also suing the national golf union, which organised the competition.

Colm Campbell was hit on the head by the golf ball and knocked unconscious during the West of Ireland Championship for amateur golfers held at County Sligo Golf Club in 2016.

He claims he is in constant pain and his life has totally changed after he was hit on the left side of his forehead.

He is suing the golfer Kevin Le Blanc, who was at the time a top amateur golfer who later turned professional for a number of years as well as County Sligo Golf Club and the organiser of the competition, The Golfing Union of Ireland.

According to Breaking News, at Ireland’s High Court, Mr Campbell’s counsel, Liam Reidy SC, solicitor said it was their case that Mr Le Blanc who was in the rough at the 11th green and 12th tee box hit the ball and it overshot the green and hit Mr Campbell on the head.

Counsel said they contend it was “an errant shot” and if a shot is errant there is a fundamental obligation to shout ‘fore’ because somebody could be in its way.

“It is a key standard that applies to every golfer from the elite to the lower level, particularly in the circumstances where the match is being watched by a group of spectators,” Mr Reidy said.

Counsel for Mr Le Blanc, Noel McCarthy SC, told the court it was their case it was not a wayward shot but a competent shot and that is why the golfer did not shout ‘fore.’ He said Mr Le Blanc will say the shot was a perfectly well struck shot and not a veering one that required him to call ‘fore’.

It is claimed against the County Sligo Golf Club and The Golfing Union of Ireland there was an alleged failure to take reasonable care for the safety of spectators and an alleged failure to give any warnings to those attending the competition they ought not be located at the place where Mr Campbell suffered injury.

It is claimed against Mr Le Blanc he allegedly failed to warn spectators including Mr Campbell of dangers of which he ought to have been aware.

All the claims are denied and it is contended there was alleged contributory negligence on the part of Mr Campbell who it was claimed was engaged in conversation and not looking at the golfer taking the shot. It is further claimed Mr Campbell allegedly failed to draw on his own vast experience as a golfer and allegedly failed to follow the flight of the ball and adjust his position accordingly.

In evidence Mr Campbell said he was just talking and there was a bang and that is all he remembers.

He said he was kept in hospital until the early hours for observation and when discharged was in pain. “The next few days were terrible. I had a lot of pain, it did not improve,” he said.

He said he is in constant pain and has tinnitus in one of his ears which is “unbearable”.

“My life was totally changed, ‘he told the court. He said he still plays “a bit of golf” but said he has “a lot of fear of being hit again.”

The case continues.

In 2013 golfer Anthony Phee was awarded nearly £400,000 when he lost an eye after being struck by a golf ball at Niddry Castle Golf Club. Both the golfer who hit the ball and the club were ordered to pay the sum. In 2014 Mary Brennan was awarded nearly £200,000 after she suffered a stroke when a golf ball hit her on the head, while she was standing on the clubhouse balcony at Old Conna Golf Club. In 2015 John Ure received £10,000 after a judge ruled that a fellow amateur player’s drive was so wayward that he deserved a payout, after sustaining a head injury at Bellshill Golf Club. In 2016, a ruling went against a golfer who sued his club after he was hit on the head by a stray ball. And in 2017 a golf club paid out £125,000 to a man who was hit on the head by a golf ball when he was a teenage golfer at the club 10 years earlier.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir December 12, 2020 07:57
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  1. Peter December 15, 11:57

    Another one to watch !! It would seem, the case against the golfer has merit while against the club, not so much !!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Phil D December 13, 20:27

    How ridiculous. Surely when u tee of 1st tee u wavie all rights and players know risks

    Reply to this comment
  3. Hillel December 13, 12:17

    Sad and empathise but how do you prove negligence??

    Reply to this comment
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