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Old 05-12-2011, 10:01 AM
Location: Austin, TX
11,813 posts, read 27,152,166 times
Reputation: 5549


We have parents that live on a golf course, also pretty near the tee box (right next to the women's tee, but there are four other tees further up-course). The house is designed to have tree's shielding you from any line drive mis-fires, and there is a veranda with wisteria on it that covers a lot of their porch. It is a risk, though, so we take care of where the little ones go while we are there...if no one is on the course, they collect balls from the brush.

I believe that the golfer is responsible for damage, but there rarely is any, or at least I have not heard of any. Most houses had landscaping and porches with the golfing in mind. The bigger 'issues' is the behavior of some of the golfers - language, mostly, which we hope not to have to explain to the four year old. If people were urinating on the golf course in sight of the house, we would probably not really cal the police, but we would call the club house.
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Old 05-12-2011, 10:24 AM
Location: Round Rock, TX
426 posts, read 1,427,178 times
Reputation: 115
I too am in the "the golfer is responsible camp". Take for example one of the holes at Balcones has a warning that you're hitting a blind tee shot and there are houses straight ahead of the box... hit at your own risk or something like that. With that said, I get the whole that's what you get for living there thing - even though it sucks for the homeowner. I'm sure most golfers do not own up to whatever happens. We live very near a course, but not ON it. A similar question... who's responsible for a foul ball or homerun through a windshield for a rec-league or little league baseball game or something. I'd assume it's not the player... I'd assume the car owner is responsible for it. Parking near a baseball field is quite similar to living on a golf course, is it not?

For all I know from what you said, the story I have from the last time I golfed could have been you, OP. I am a poor golfer, no hiding that, and mis-hit a tee shot horribly - Fortunately so horribly that it pretty much ran along the ground for 100 yds and it stopped in a yard. I hit another tee shot into the fairway and went along. I had my wife stop the cart on the cart path, semi-near the yard, and walked into it, grabbed my ball and walked out. As I'm 50 yards away, the homeowner comes out yelling at me about trespassing, private property, blah blah blah. All I could do at the time was turn around a just wave and say sorry. If I wasn't so shocked by it, I would have ripped off numerous smart-ass comments. Dude should be thankful (as I was) I topped it and didn't hit his or someone elses house. He should also be thankful I politely walked a few steps into his yard (guessing from the change in grass mowing and others fences) and picked the ball up. I know many people would have "played it as it lie" and taken a chunk out of the guys yard. I could have driven to the ball - I could have done tons of things. The only thing I could have differently that I might have done was left my $0.50 ball there... but if you're so worried about that - put a fence up, put a net up, etc. This by no means isn't the nicest course in the world so it's going to be loaded with hacks like me. It just shocked the crap out of me when it happened.
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Old 05-12-2011, 10:43 AM
369 posts, read 823,375 times
Reputation: 242
Here is something from an attorney ....

Okay, BusinessGolf asked me to chime in as I am one of the resident attorneys who writes on the counselor's corner threads...

In short, you are both correct, but it depends on the specifics. The golfer who breaks the homeowner's window with his ball is at fault. However, a covenant may make it so the homeowner cannot recover his damages from the golfer (Note: that doesn't mean the golfer isn't at fault, it only means the homeowner may not be able to collect $$$ from that golfer due to the covenant)

Covenants are a tricky thing. Essentially a covenant regarding real property is a contractual agreement that runs with the land, i.e. is enforceable against all subsequent owners. I'm not going to bore you with the specifics of what makes covenant enforceable and when they run with the land, but assuming an enforceable covenant exists whereby the homeowner agrees (contractually) with his neighbor the golf course, that any damage caused by guests of the golf course is not recoverable as against either the guest or the golf course, then that homeowner is bound by that promise.

Now notice, as I noted above, it doesn't mean the golfer who did the damage is not at fault. It just means that regardless of fault, the homeowner has previously promised not to recover damages and if the golfer got sued, he could use as a defense that despite his fault, the homeowner is contractually barred from recovery.

Now, the kicker... Where I live, near Philly, typically the homes were built before the adjoining golf course. In that case, the golf course cannot force its new neighbors into a covenant, therefore, chances are none exist.

But suppose the golf course was there first. And suppose a home is built on a property that abutts the golf course. Unless the seller of the property is the owner of the golf course, the golf course cannot force a covenant, because essentially it would be tantamount to forcing a third party (the seller of the house) into creating a covenant with the buyer. The seller could do so voluntarily, but absent some sort of consideration ($$$) he is unlikely to do so because it will hamper the value of the home he is selling.

So that leaves us with this scenario: A developer has a bunch of land that he's building houses and a golf course upon. In this scenario the developer could covenant with the homeowners to which he is selling a legally enforceable promise that if their houses get pelted they won't sue the golf course or the golfer.

But the important part of the story is that since only under this last scenario is there likely to be a covenant on point, it is most likely that no covenant exists and that the individual golfer will be liable for the damages.

As a final note, most golf courses would have a covenant in place if they could. However, some states bar covenants of this sort. Thus even if the covenant is signed and sealed, it may still not be enforceable if barred by state laws.

My advice to homeowners is that if you are unaware of a covenant on point, chances are you are not bound by one. On the other hand, my advice to golfers is that if you happen to cause damage, make sure there isn't a covenant protecting you prior to paying up.

One final note drawing from a discussion on one of the counselor's corner threads...covenants of this sort can never be enforced against a car driving by the course, e.g. because they are associated with real property only, and a car is considered personal property.
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Old 05-12-2011, 11:06 AM
Location: Texas
5,686 posts, read 6,490,432 times
Reputation: 2791
Homeowner at fault. That's what home insurance is for. The "premium" you paid for being adjacent to the course...that was your entry fee to endless window replacement.

Everyone who's ever lived on a course, or who plays regularly knows...either live by the back tee's or next to the green. But NEVER anywhere in between.
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Old 05-12-2011, 11:12 AM
19 posts, read 29,033 times
Reputation: 17
So lacking any covenants, a person could be held civilly liable for damages to real and even personal property depending on the specifics of the case.

Brings up a lot of "what if's" in my head...but I think it all boils down to the details and what you would be able to prove.
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Old 05-12-2011, 10:24 PM
Location: On the banks of the St Johns River
3,863 posts, read 7,747,606 times
Reputation: 3413
I think if you buy on a golf course you assume an implied risk when YOUR Property is hit by an errant shot ...not YOUR KIDS if someone hits them and causes harm its at his own peril, because if I were ever to see my kids get hit and its ignored, I would have taken extreme umbrage and my sand wedge out to confront the individual. Now if some drunk golfer hits your fence and damages it with a golf cart then its his responsibility to make it right.
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