Spectator hit by golf ball during tournament sues golfer and club

ireland
Spectator Hit By Golf Ball During Tournament Sues Golfer And Club
Counsel said they contend it was “an errant shot” and if a shot is errant there is a fundamental obligation to shout ‘fore’ because somebody could be in its way
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Ann O'Loughlin

A spectator at a golf tournament who was hit on the head by a golf ball and knocked unconscious has sued in the High Court.

Colm Campbell claims he is in constant pain and his life has totally changed after he was hit on the left side of his forehead during the West of Ireland Championship for amateur golfers held at County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point, Sligo four years ago.

He has sued the golfer Kevin Le Blanc who was at the time a top amateur golfer who later turned professional for a number of years as well as County Sligo Golf Club and the organisers of the competition, The Golfing Union of Ireland.

Opening the case Mr Campbell’s counsel, Liam Reidy SC instructed by Damien Tansey solicitor said it was their case that Mr Le Blanc who was in the rough at the 11th green and 12th tee box hit the ball and it overshot the green and hit Mr Campbell on the head.

'Errant shot'

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Counsel said they contend it was “an errant shot” and if a shot is errant there is a fundamental obligation to shout ‘fore’ because somebody could be in its way. “It is a key standard that applies to every golfer from the elite to the lower level, particularly in the circumstances where the match is being watched by a group of spectators,” Mr Reidy said.

Counsel for Mr Le Blanc, Noel McCarthy SC told the court it was their case it was not a wayward shot but a competent shot and that is why the golfer did not shout ‘fore.’ He said Mr Le Blanc will say the shot was a perfectly well struck shot and not a veering one that required him to call ‘fore’.

Colm Campbell (65) a father of three from Donegal town has sued County Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point; the event organisers, The Golfing Union of Ireland National Coaching Academy Ltd with offices at Maynooth . Co Kildare and golfer Kevin Le Blanc , Donabate, Co Dublin over the incident on March 28th, 2016.

Safety of spectators

It is claimed against the County Sligo Golf Club and The Golfing Union of Ireland there was an alleged failure to take reasonable care for the safety of spectators and an alleged failure to give any warnings to those attending the competition they ought not be located at the place where Mr Campbell suffered injury.

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It is claimed against Mr Le Blanc he allegedly failed to warn spectators including Mr Campbell of dangers of which he ought to have been aware.

All the claims are denied and it is contended there was alleged contributory negligence on the part of Mr Campbell who it was claimed was engaged in conversation and not looking at the golfer take the shot. It is further claimed Mr Campbell allegedly failed to draw on his own vast experience as a golfer and allegedly failed to follow the flight of the ball and adjust his position accordingly.

Hospital

In evidence Mr Campbell said he was just talking and there was a bang and that is all he remembers.

He said he was kept in hospital until the early hours for observation and when discharged was in pain. “The next few days were terrible . I had a lot of pain, it did not improve,” he said.

He said he is in constant pain and has tinnitus in one of his ears which is “unbearable””

“My life was totally changed, ‘he told the court. He said he still plays “a bit of golf” but said he has “a lot of fear of being hit again.”

The case before Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon continues next week.

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