The Scottish Golf Union has issued renewed calls for all clubs and golfers to be fully aware of health and safety guidelines while considering insurance cover, given the recent high-profile case in the media, which saw a golfer awarded almost £400,000 in damages following an unfortunate incident on the course.
In a judgement that should prompt players and clubs around the country to exercise greater care, Anthony Phee was awarded £397,000 having lost an eye after being struck by a wayward drive.
At Niddry Castle Golf Club, Winchburgh, James Gordon’s tee-shot from the 18th hole struck Mr Phee walking on a path between the 6th and 7th holes. Mr Gordon was deemed 70% liable, while the club 30% liable for having no warning signs at the tee or the path.
The decision brings into sharp focus the liability for golfers, club committee members and office bearers. Whilst such incidents are rare, accidents can happen.
Hamish Grey, SGU Chief Executive, said: “We express our great sympathy for Mr Phee, this was an unfortunate incident. We all have a duty of care that, if in doubt as a golfer and you think someone is in range, then don’t hit the ball – wait until they are clear.
“The SGU are extremely aware of such incidents arising and, for a number of years, have enjoyed a partnership with Carrick Neill as our official insurance broker. Carrick Neill were chosen due to their extensive experience, technical expertise and focus on providing a first-class customer service. Golfers and golf clubs, wherever possible, ought to be covered by specialist insurance.”
Carrick Neill, a UK-based broker also endorsed by the English Golf Union and the Ladies’ Golf Union, currently place the insurance for hundreds of clubs and thousands of individual golfers – but many clubs and golfers are simply not properly covered despite having a variety of options they can choose to protect themselves.
David Miller, Golf Director of Carrick Neill, explains: “We live in a compensation culture and we are all bombarded by offers from no-win, no fee companies which make it significantly easier for claimants to seek compensation.
“In the previous 12 months, we have settled over 1,200 golf-related claims. For such a modest charge, we would strongly urge all golfers to seriously consider arranging specific golf insurance.
“It is important to bear in mind the quality of the product you choose and not be swayed by cheap premiums and free gifts. The old adage “cheapest is not always best” is likely to be true and most importantly, you need cover you can trust.”
The incident in West Lothian, which received widespread media coverage, also highlighted the responsibility that lies with clubs in assessing risk and taking necessary preventative measures.
For some time now, the SGU have advised clubs on health and safety as well as insurance issues and the governing body are about to launch a comprehensive health and safety web tool. For further information, please visit http://www.scottishgolf.org/go/club-services
Carrick Neill www.golferspolicy.co.uk