with Robert Bicknell
Where does a golfer's responsibility begin and end?
If you ask the clubs, they will tell you that you play at your own risk, but are responsible for any damage you do to the golf course outside of normal play. In short, it you take a divot, that's a normal part of the game, but if you take a chunk out of the green with your putter in anger, you're gonna pay for repairs.
But what if you hit another person with a golf ball and, heaven forbid, cause them to lose an eye?
US courts have rules time and again that golf is an inexact science and that a golfer is NOT responsible for an errant shot, providing the player was not reckless or negligent. In this case, reckless would be defined as intentionally aiming at someone or a house and hitting the shot. Negligence would be considered hitting a mulligan without announcing the intention of doing so.
For example, if someone is standing directly in front of you and you hit the ball knowing they are there and whack the other player with the ball, you have been reckless and/or negligent and would be responsible for damages.
However, if someone is standing a reasonable distance off line and, through error, you slice your shot and whack the other player with the ball, you are not negligent because the courts rightly stated that golf is an inexact sport and the ball most often does not do as the player wanted.
So, in golf, accidents happen, but, what happens if you hit a house and put the ball through a window?
Apparently, a guy in Nevada (USA) got irritated when a golf ball broke his living room window and, in retaliation, walked outside with a shotgun and blasted away at the golfer.
I suppose nobody will have to ask "what did you shoot" as it is obvious he shot a golfer and, yes, he was arrested. Despite NRA arguments, it is still illegal to shoot golfers, although I suspect that they (the National Rifle Association) might argue that if the golfer was also armed, he might not have got shot in the first place. Such is the current illogic in the US.
But what if you hit a house or a car in a parking lot?
In most cases, homeowners are required to sign waivers to the golf course when buying a house, whereas in other clubs, members are required to sign pledges to make good on any damage they might do to someone or someone's property. Parking your car is always at your own risk.
But ya gotta admit, buying a house on the right side of a fairway, roughly 200 - 250 yards from the tee box is just asking for trouble as most golfers slice.
Here in Viet Nam, more homes are being built as part of the golf course, but they seem to be more confined to a separate area of the facility and far enough away from the course to limit damage from errant shots. However, at VGCC (Thu Duc) East Course, for example, there are numerous homes lining the left side of the 10th fairway and, while you would think that houses on the left side would be safer because most players are right handed and they slice (ball travels uncontrollably from left to right) these homes get bombarded by balls all the time.
This is because there are some deep bunkers on the right side of the fairway and people nervously snap-hook while trying to miss them.
During my time as GM there, homeowners understood that getting an occasional ball through the window as a risk of living that close to the golf course and I don't remember too many windows getting broken… in fact, none. But there were lots of balls being collected by the owners.
Golfers are responsible for their actions within the rules of the game. They have to ensure divots are repaired, bunkers are raked and pitchmarks repaired on the greens. If doesn't matter if the player repairs it, or the caddie.
I have heard players claim "that's the caddie's job" and it is. But the player must ensure it is done - that's his job.
It's all just part of being a good golfer… — VNS