This case involves a woman who suffered injuries after falling out of a golf cart. The grounds crew at the golf course had been working to install a new sprinkler system, and had dug a number of trenches for that purpose. Despite the fact that many of these trenches had been dug in areas that received regular foot and golf cart traffic, the trenches were left unattended and no warnings were put in place to alert golfers to their presence. At the time of the incident in question, the Plaintiff was traveling through the rough of the 13th hole in a golf cart. Suddenly, the front wheels of her golf cart became stuck in a trench while the Plaintiff was traveling at speed, causing the cart to flip and throwing her from her seat. The woman suffered a number of serious injuries in the accident, and claimed that there were no signs or other indications that the trench was there at the time of the accident.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. What are best practices to inform golfers of dangerous holes or ditches?
- 2. Should dangerous areas be sectioned off?
Expert Witness Response E-014068
I have served as a golf course superintendent for more than 20 years and can speak to the standard for informing golfers of dangerous holes and ditches. As a general rule, I look at any known physical hazards, such as a hole on the course, as a liability to the club. As the manager of the Club’s largest asset, if I knew of a hole on the course I would direct staff to mark the perimeter of the hole with a vertical identifier of contrasting color to the surrounding area to draw attention to the hazard to try and avoid someone falling in and getting hurt. Sometimes the hole is very small and the identifier can be equally small. However, if the hole was large enough (as it seems to have been in the instance described here), I would use some sort of rope with steamers or yellow flagging tape to really draw attention to the hazard in an effort to avoid injury.