Alan Neufeld was recently interviewed on ESPN Radio. In the interview, he discusses how he represented a general contractor, hired by a homeowner, who lived on a golf course called Bonaventure. The homeowner hired the contractor because he had a problem with golf balls breaking home windows, windshields, pool pump, etc… and while in the threshold of the house, a ball comes screaming in and hits the contractor in the eye, blinding him in that eye.
Three potential defendants: (1) golf course; (2) homeowners insurance; (3) golfer who hit the shot.
Mr. Neufeld hired a prominent golf architect, who examined the history of this particular hole and learned that it had once been mostly straight. Let me explain: the golf architect discussed the concept of the perceived middle of the fairway.
When a golfer sets up on the tee, he/she will aim at the perceived middle of the fairway. Anything within 15 degrees of the middle of the fairway is considered a safe zone by golf architects. When this hole was originally developed, there was a small tree to the right that, at the time, did not alter the percieved middle of the fairway and thus the homes on left were not bombarded with golf balls. But, over the years, the tree grew and grew the golfer’s percieved middle of the fairway started to creep leftwards…and the more the homes to the left started seeing an increase in damage caused by errant golf balls. Correspondingly, the pro shop and association started recording a significant increase in the number of related complaints…to which they essentially responded by saying not our problem.