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Golfer Blinds Himself, Sues Golf Course

Golfer Blinds Himself, Sues Golf Course

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2009

If you run into a tree with your car, do you sue the tree's owner? No. If you cut yourself with your knife, do you sue the knife maker? No. So, if you hit yourself in the eye with your own golf ball and go blind in that eye, do you sue the golf course?

The correct answer is no. Everyone got that right, except for Paul Sanchez of Manchester, N.H., and his lawyer, Barry Scotch.

Sanchez, 67, was golfing with a few friends at the Candia Woods Golf Links in September 2006, when it happened. He hit the ball, it bounced off a yardage marker, and smacked him in the right eye.

Needless to say, his friends had their worst games ever. It was hit the ball, drag Sanchez, hit the ball, drag Sanchez. (No, seriously, he was taken to the hospital by an ambulance.)

Scotch told the Manchester Union Leader, "Before he could even – pardon the expression – blink, he was hit. It just ricocheted right back at him."

Sanchez's lawsuit blames Candia Woods for failing to warn him not to hit the yardage markers with his golf ball or he could be blinded. Not while he was in the pro shop, on the scorecard, or on any of the tee boxes.

Golf pro: Gentlemen, I'm required to warn you not to hit the yardage markers or else you could go blind.

Disappointed golfer: Can I just do it until I need glasses?*

Golf pro: I also need to warn you that water is wet, the sky is blue, and you shouldn't poke rattlesnakes with your putter.

Disappointed golfer: Man, this game isn't fun anymore!

Sanchez says the markers were too rigid to be safe for the course. He is is seeking unspecified damages

Translation: "I'm too embarrassed to tell anyone since this lawsuit is already stupid enough."

Rule #1 of stupid lawsuits: If you run into a tree with your car because the steering wheel fell off, don't sue the property owner, sue the car manufacturer. Rule #2: If you ran into the tree because you can't drive, don't sue the car manufacturer either.

Sanchez's wife, Mary Ellen, is also a plaintiff, claiming she suffered from emotional damage.

Translation: "My husband got hit in the eye. I was sad. I want money."

The suit also says the markers were improperly placed in the middle of the fairway. Down low to the ground, where good golfers don't usually hit the ball, would be my guess.

Will Sanchez also sue his friends for not warning him between each shot? Maybe one of them should have suggested, knowing he wasn't a good golfer, that they move the marker temporarily. What about his wife? Did she urge him to be careful before he left? And if she did, is he at fault for ignoring her?

The Union Leader says Sanchez was on the 11th hole, which was a 443-yard par-4 hole, and that the marker was 150 yards from the green. I don't know much about golf, but I do know that on a par-4 hole, you're supposed to be able to get in the hole on the fourth shot. Good golfers can make it in three.

Sanchez's own lawsuit says this was his third shot, which tells me he wasn't a good golfer. If he hit a marker 150 yards from the hole, and it was his third shot, then he was much farther than 150 yards from the green, AND far enough away to think he would clear the marker on his third shot. If he were a better golfer, he would have been a lot closer, and would have already cleared the marker.

"It's not a frivolous, run-it-up-the-flagpole-and-see-who-salutes kind of thing," Scotch told the Union Leader.

Translation: "This is a frivolous, run-it-up-the-flagpole-and-see-if-they'll-settle-out-of-court kind of thing."

Everything on a golf course can be a hazard. Trees, markers, underbrush, even other golfers. If you step out onto the links, you assume a certain level of risk. If you still play despite those risks, your injuries are your own fault. Sanchez knew the risks, knew there were obstacles on a golf course that a ball could ricochet off. He doesn't deserve anything, and his "emotionally damaged" wife deserves even less.

I hope the Candia Woods Golf Links are willing to fight this, and not let themselves get pushed around by a guy with dollar signs in his eyes. Well, his good eye, anyway.


* The original newspaper version of this column had the following joke. Obviously, I couldn't run the above joke in the newspaper without a bunch of angry editors storming my place with torches and pitchforks.

Golf pro: Gentlemen, I'm required to warn you not to hit the yardage markers or else you could go blind.

Disappointed golfer: Dangit, there goes my afternoon.

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  1. Unbelievable - this all comes down to the "where there's blame, there's a claim" culture this world seems more and more to be adopting. I agree, I hope the course fights this, and makes a public spectacle of the man & his missus. (And I am also a golfer, so I know how bad this man must have been!)


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