Court tees up a loss for injured golfer

The New York State Court of Appeals has ruled that a golfer who doesn’t yell “fore” is not liable for the damage his shot causes.

Dr. Anoop Kapoor and Dr. Azad Anand were playing on a nine-hole Long Island course in October 2002 when Anand was hit in the head while looking for his ball on a fairway, blinding him in one eye. He sued. Today, the court tossed the case.

Let’s go to the opinion:

The accident occurred during play on the first hole. Kapoor’s second shot landed in the “rough.” Without waiting for Kapoor to retrieve his ball, Anand went to look for his on the fairway. Kapoor, meanwhile, found his ball and, without calling “Fore” or giving any other warning to his friends, hit the shot that went in an unintended direction and struck Anand.

There’s a reason golf has certain rules of etiquette. One is that the person farthest away from the hole gets the shot. Everyone else stands back. In this case, the victim should’ve waited for his none-fore-calling partner to hit his shot. ‘Fore’ is primarily used to warn golfers on other nearby holes, it shouldn’t be needed to warn your playing partner.

Back to the action:

Here, Kapoor’s failure to warn of his intent to strike the ball did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct, and did not unreasonably increase the risks inherent in golf to which

Anand consented. Rather, the manner in which Anand was injured – – being hit without warning by a “shanked” shot while one searches for one’s own ball — reflects a commonly appreciated risk of golf.

Maybe appreciated isn’t the right word for the masses but, yes. But what if the man had called “fore?” There’s some dispute over what is the best course of action for the other participants.

Back when I played golf, my golfing partners would crouch and cover their head — the sissies. I should also point out I didn’t yell “fore.” It was assumed.

There’s also the “cool” approach. One does not duck, but merely turns one’s back to the offending party. I’ve also seen people look up in a “where did that ‘fore’ come from?” stance, thus muting whatever benefit the word has. But these golf courses have the holes pretty well crammed into a small area. You can’t always tell who the “fore-fathers” are calling out to. And nothing looks worse than ducking and covering unnecessarily. In golf, it’s not important to be good; it’s important to look good.

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