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Golf Ball Damage Liability in Canberra?

By ArandaBill - 24 May 2012 30

Who is liable for damage by errant golf balls to property adjacent golf courses – the golfer, the course owners or the adjacent residents? 

Is there any Australian case law or experience? Who is liable if a person on an adjacent property, or roadway, is injured by a golf ball hit from the course?

Does the frequency of damage caused by errant golf balls make and difference (as suggested in UK case law).

How do golf clubs around the ACT respond to their neighbours?

What’s Your opinion?


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30 Responses to
Golf Ball Damage Liability in Canberra?
poetix 7:26 pm 24 May 12

Blen_Carmichael said :

Slightly off-topic, but who could forget Lord Denning’s classic judgment from the so-called cricket case (Miller v Jackson):

“In summertime village cricket is the delight of everyone. Nearly every village has its own cricket field where the young men play and the old men watch. In the village of Lintz in County Durham they have their own ground, where they have played these last 70 years. They tend it well. The wicket area is well rolled and mown. The outfield is kept short. It has a good club house for the players and seats for the onlookers. The village team play there on Saturdays and Sundays. They belong to a league, competing with the neighbouring villages. On other evenings after work they practise while the light lasts. Yet now after these 70 years a judge of the High Court has ordered that they must not play there any more. He has issued an injunction to stop them. He has done it at the instance of a newcomer who is no lover of cricket. This newcomer has built, or has had built for him, a house on the edge of the cricket ground which four years ago was a field where cattle grazed. The animals did not mind the cricket. But now this adjoining field has been turned into a housing estate. The newcomer bought one of the houses on the edge of the cricket ground. No doubt the open space was a selling point. Now he complains that when a batsman hits a six the ball has been known to land in his garden or on or near his house. His wife has got so upset about it that they always go out at week-ends. They do not go into the garden when cricket is being played. They say that this is intolerable. So they asked the judge to stop the cricket being played. And the judge, much against his will, has felt that he must order the cricket to be stopped: with the consequence, I suppose, that the Lintz Cricket Club will disappear. The cricket ground will be turned to some other use. I expect for more houses or a factory. The young men will turn to other things instead of cricket. The whole village will be much the poorer. And all this because of a newcomer who has just bought a house there next to the cricket ground.”

He writes English in the way David Gower used to hit a cover drive.

Also, the injunction against cricket wan’t upheld, although some damages were paid.

Blen_Carmichael 6:59 pm 24 May 12

Slightly off-topic, but who could forget Lord Denning’s classic judgment from the so-called cricket case (Miller v Jackson):

“In summertime village cricket is the delight of everyone. Nearly every village has its own cricket field where the young men play and the old men watch. In the village of Lintz in County Durham they have their own ground, where they have played these last 70 years. They tend it well. The wicket area is well rolled and mown. The outfield is kept short. It has a good club house for the players and seats for the onlookers. The village team play there on Saturdays and Sundays. They belong to a league, competing with the neighbouring villages. On other evenings after work they practise while the light lasts. Yet now after these 70 years a judge of the High Court has ordered that they must not play there any more. He has issued an injunction to stop them. He has done it at the instance of a newcomer who is no lover of cricket. This newcomer has built, or has had built for him, a house on the edge of the cricket ground which four years ago was a field where cattle grazed. The animals did not mind the cricket. But now this adjoining field has been turned into a housing estate. The newcomer bought one of the houses on the edge of the cricket ground. No doubt the open space was a selling point. Now he complains that when a batsman hits a six the ball has been known to land in his garden or on or near his house. His wife has got so upset about it that they always go out at week-ends. They do not go into the garden when cricket is being played. They say that this is intolerable. So they asked the judge to stop the cricket being played. And the judge, much against his will, has felt that he must order the cricket to be stopped: with the consequence, I suppose, that the Lintz Cricket Club will disappear. The cricket ground will be turned to some other use. I expect for more houses or a factory. The young men will turn to other things instead of cricket. The whole village will be much the poorer. And all this because of a newcomer who has just bought a house there next to the cricket ground.”

dvaey 6:14 pm 24 May 12

A friend owned a property that fronted onto Murrumbidgee when it was built. They were offered free membership as ‘compensation’ for living next to the course and the occasional stray balls. Maybe they figure members cant sue?

carnardly 5:23 pm 24 May 12

legal_chick86 said :

I live next to the golf course in a rental – i sure as hell do not want to pay for smashed windows etc for some pricks who cant play golf for s***…

you didn’t think of that risk before you signed the lease? sorry mr property manager – i was not stupid and behaving like a nong, it was a golf ball… I promise…

Growling Ferret 5:19 pm 24 May 12

If you live on a course, you have a great view but have to expect the occasional stray ball in your backyard or bouncing off your roof.

I wouldn’t let my kids play in a backyard adjoining a course.

When the 15 year olds are belting out 250m drives, it doesn’t take much of an error to miss by 25 metres over that sort of distance….

screaming banshee 5:18 pm 24 May 12

Human error = nature….to err and all that

Primal 4:49 pm 24 May 12

fnaah said :

If you buy a house next to a nature reserve, you might see a few more snakes. If you walk under a coconut tree, you might get hit on the head. You walk next to a golf course, you can probably expect a few stray balls over the fence. You buy a house with golf course frontage, you can expect a much more intimate relationship with your local glazier.

Snakes = nature
Coconut tree = nature
Golf balls = human error

artuoui 4:37 pm 24 May 12

ArandaBill – Its no use cramming for that law exam at this late stage. You should have bought the texts and studied much earlier in the semester.

Holden Caulfield 4:35 pm 24 May 12

Oh, I think one of the worst cases would be the hole that runs parallel with Hindmarsh Drive at Capital. I think it’d be the 16th or 17th. A slice from there could be a nasty surprise for someone driving along. Although, I haven’t played there for over 10 years, so perhaps the trees and/or fences provide better protection now.

Holden Caulfield 4:32 pm 24 May 12

Back in the day when I was a renter I used to live in a house backing the golf course in Ngunnawal. It was about 100m or so from the 7th tee IIRC. I was out the back one day doing some gardening, minding my own business when … woosh, THWACK!!! … a ball thundered into the side fence. Must have missed me by no more than a metre.

I’m guessing if it did hit me in the head that I’d have been seeking liability from someone!

Although the back fence on the house was a pretty feeble metal number no more than 1.2m high.

It must have been a pretty vicious hook too, as this happened after a protective fence had been placed alongside the tee.

That near miss aside, which was the worst one I witnessed in around 2 years there, I figured the few balls I’d find in the backyard were worth the bother for the after hours access I had to the 6th and 7th fairways with my 7 iron, haha.

shirty_bear 4:32 pm 24 May 12

Not in ACT, and not me, but … my brother had his windscreen broken by a golf ball while driving along Dacey Ave in Randwick (which cuts Moore Park golf course in half). He headed up to the pro shop and complained; they told him to get a quote and they’d cover it. And they did.

legal_chick86 3:54 pm 24 May 12

I live next to the golf course in a rental – i sure as hell do not want to pay for smashed windows etc for some pricks who cant play golf for s***…

fnaah 3:41 pm 24 May 12

Why does anyone necessarily have to be “liable”?

If you buy a house next to a nature reserve, you might see a few more snakes. If you walk under a coconut tree, you might get hit on the head. You walk next to a golf course, you can probably expect a few stray balls over the fence. You buy a house with golf course frontage, you can expect a much more intimate relationship with your local glazier.

The course may have a responsibility to at least go to an effort to stop the majority of balls going out of bounds, but there is no way they can be expected to be responsible to stop every single one. Similarly, a golfer can’t be held responsible for the odd stray shot. Sometimes, shit just happens.

Growling Ferret 3:40 pm 24 May 12

Its generally covered under the golf club insurance policy. Part of the green fees each player pays is an insurance component to cover damage from this sort of incident, and many a course in Canberra has had tees or fairways realigned to prevent stray balls crossing boundaries.

Still, houses would get hit every day of the week at Gungahlin Lakes, Gold Creek, Yowani, Belconnen and Murrumbidgee……

bearlikesbeer 3:39 pm 24 May 12

Sorry to hit you with questions rather than an answer, but I’ve gotta ask… How substantial is the damage? Is the area of the course where the ball escaped fenced? Has your property suffered previous damage from errant golf balls? Have you contacted the golf course regarding this, or previous, incidents?

My mate lived next to a golf course (not in ACT). Balls would occasionally land on his roof or smash his pot plants, but he didn’t consider that a big deal. It’s the risk you run if you want a view of a golf course, he felt. It was only when a window was smashed that he bothered to request compensation from the golf course. They paid, and made the fence near his property a little higher to prevent further damage.

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