If you are a golfer, one of the first things you learn as a youngster is yelling “fore” when you hit an errant shot is a part of golf etiquette. In a ruling handed down by the New York Court of Appeals, the golf etiquette we learned before we ever hit our first tee shot, means nothing, at least in the eye of the court. In 2002, Dr. Azad Anand was hit in the head by his playing partner, Dr. Anoop Kapoor, who failed to yell “fore.” Dr. Anand claimed in a lawsuit it was reckless for his playing partner not to yell “fore” as his shanked shot headed towards him.
The higher court ruling sided with the lower courts decision to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Dr. Anand. In a statement, the Court of Appeals had this to say:
The manner in which Anand was injured — being hit without warning by a ‘shanked’ shot while one searches for one’s own ball — reflects a commonly appreciated risk of golf. A person who chooses to participate in a sport or recreational activity consents to certain risks” that are inherent to that activity. However, a plaintiff ‘will not be deemed to have assumed the risks of reckless or intentional conduct or concealed or unreasonably increased risks.
Is it actually reckless behavior to not yell “four” when playing golf? That is the main question the court had to answer before making a ruling. Apparently they don’t think so. If you look at courses all across the nation on a daily basis, how many times does this happen?
In the end, I think golfers will continue to yell “fore,” even though the court says you don’t need to. Is this case going to the U.S. Supreme Court? Will golf courses start to print this on the back of scorecards now along with the local rules? I think these two questions will be interesting to follow. The one thing I do know, these two friends probably don’t play golf together anymore…
But next time you are out on the course, hit it straight and you don’t have to worry about hitting your buddy who is in the woods.