Any possessor of land, including an owner of a golf course, has a duty to take reasonable action to protect any person who enters the property in response to the owner’s invitation. Golf course owners must warn of concealed or latent defects of which they have or should have reasonable knowledge.
This does not make the owner strictly liable for the safety of others, but it does hold the owner responsible for maintaining a duty of care to protect those who enter the property.
What is an Invitee?
An invitee is someone who is “invited” or welcomed on the property by the owner. Since they are invited, the owner has the highest duty of care to make the property as safe as possible or at least make any inherent defects known to the invitee. However, some inherent defects are known or should be known, as in the case of a golf course.
An invitee, in this case, a golf player, takes an inherent risk of golf by entering the property. An example of the inherent risk of golf, is being hit by a ball—not because of a poorly designed course, but because getting hit by a ball is a risk one takes by playing the game.
If the invitee is injured, it does not necessarily mean the golf course owner failed in their duty to protect. An injury of this sort would likely not succeed as a claim since the injured party took an inherent risk of the game of golf.
However, the golf course owner is required to minimize the inherent risks of the game by providing a reasonably safe golf course. For instance, the owner has a duty to protect players where the greatest danger of being injured exists.
A dangerous design of the course may require the owner to change the tee boxes, remove trees, or reroute golf cart paths. If the person was injured because the golf course owner failed to correct the hazard, then the course owner will likely be held liable for negligence.
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What are Some Injuries the Owner of a Golf Course May Be Liable For?
Below are a few examples of injuries in which an owner of a golf course may be liable:
- Injuries from a golf cart: Liability may arise if the cart was given improper maintenance, or if the golf course owner failed to repair a dangerous condition on the course, which resulted in the invitee’s injury.
- Premises liability/slip and fall injuries: If a dangerous condition exists on the course or in the pro shop, and the owner did not take action to correct it, the owner may be liable.
- Errant golf balls in especially dangerous areas: Areas such as driving ranges are particularly dangerous. If an owner fails to install safety netting where any reasonable person would deem it necessary, the owner may be held liable for errant ball injuries.
If I am Injured on A Golf Course, Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you have been injured while on a golf course and believe it was due to the owner's negligence, then you should speak with a personal injury attorney near you as soon as possible. Your attorney will review your case, advise you of your next course of action, and if need be, represent your best interests in court.