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Errant Golf shot
July 2, 2005 5:29 PM   Subscribe

I recently hit a golf ball through a skylight on a house adjacent to the course. Am I responsible for the bill? I've heard pretty much every answer under the sun, so some specific evidence would be nice.
posted by sicem07 to Law & Government (36 answers total)
 
If you got caught, or lord forbid, admitted it, then yeah you are. How wouldn't you be responsible for it?
posted by puke & cry at 5:33 PM on July 2, 2005


Yes. It was your ball, you hit it off the course and into somebody's private property.

The gentlemanly thing to do is to own up and pay for it, no different than if you scratched a parked car.
posted by mosch at 5:41 PM on July 2, 2005


If you want a definitive answer, just talk to the manager at the clubhouse and explain the situation, on the off chance that the club actually pays for these things out of pocket.
posted by mosch at 5:49 PM on July 2, 2005


They may have insurance to cover such things, so ask. The local county owned course has insurance to cover damages to cars in an adjacent parking lot (not theirs). (A grocery store was built alongside the course about 10 years after the course opened. There was much fooraw the first summer the store was opened from people who got dents/broken windows from errant tee shots. IIRC, both the golf course and the store eventually got insurance to cover such things.)
posted by jlkr at 6:01 PM on July 2, 2005


Hell of a shot. Of course you're responsible.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:56 PM on July 2, 2005


Are you in the US? If so, what state?
posted by mlis at 7:11 PM on July 2, 2005


Yeah, I'm in the US, Texas more specifically.
posted by sicem07 at 7:13 PM on July 2, 2005


Did the owner of the house break that window himself? Did the golf course? Who broke that skylight?

You are responsible. However, asking at the course about insurance is a good suggestion. They may have this covered.
posted by caddis at 7:52 PM on July 2, 2005


You broke something. Why would you not be responsible?
posted by Ken McE at 7:54 PM on July 2, 2005


Specific evidence? WTF? Man up and replace the window. And with a smile and an apology at that.
posted by jmgorman at 8:28 PM on July 2, 2005


Stop piling on sicem07. I'm sure he didn't mean to hit the house. How is this any different from fouling a baseball into a parking lot, breaking a car window? You wouldn't be responsible for that, would you?
posted by null terminated at 8:45 PM on July 2, 2005


How is this any different from fouling a baseball into a parking lot, breaking a car window? You wouldn't be responsible for that, would you?

I don't understand why not. You hit the ball, and at the end of the trajectory that you started it on, the ball broke the window. It's a freak accident and not one caused by negligence, true, but it's still something you did, isn't it?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:57 PM on July 2, 2005


If you don't want something broke don't put it next to areas in which flying heavy objects are present.

Their own damn fault for living next to a golf course.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:09 PM on July 2, 2005


If it was a house actually on the course, I'd hope that the owners (or the subdivision-and-course management) would recognize that the occasional ball through the window is just an inevitable part of living there and deal with it through insurance.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:10 PM on July 2, 2005


How is this any different from fouling a baseball into a parking lot, breaking a car window? You wouldn't be responsible for that, would you?
Unbelieveable. The worst part is, you can't even talk to people like this. No amount of effort or reason can instill conscience or responsibility in a full-grown adult. The best you can do is hope that he's a kid whose parents will correct the problem.

As to the poster (for whom the same probably holds true): Definitely check the insurance angle. You may be off the hook -- but that doesn't mean you weren't responsible. It just means you're lucky.
posted by cribcage at 9:26 PM on July 2, 2005


Life shouldn't be about what you can get away with. If it is, think twice about how you're living.
posted by aramaic at 10:25 PM on July 2, 2005


Excellent. I was going to post this as a question but this seems so similar:

I parked my car but forgot to put the parking break on. It rolled backwards, into the street, and squashed the little kid next door. Am I responsible? Thanks!

...

(Of course you're friggin' responsible. Man up!)
posted by Justinian at 11:02 PM on July 2, 2005


Of course you're responsible, unless you want to make up a different definition of 'responsible.'

But, your question is probably "do i have to pay for it?" In which case, you might not, considering that the golf course may have some kind of insurance for this kind of thing, or there may be a homeowners association. This is not something anyone here can answer for you, unless one of us happens to work at the golf course where you were playing. Go ask at the clubhouse.

But, yes, absolutely you are responsible. Would the window have been broken had you not hit the ball? No? Then you caused it.
posted by odinsdream at 11:32 PM on July 2, 2005


Questions like this infuriate me. The types of people who'd even conceive that there is a question of responsibility are a large part of the reason we can't have a nice society.

Thank goodness the majority of us seem to have our heads screwed on straight.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:06 AM on July 3, 2005


This is an interesting tack these answers are taking. Does this mean, say, that if I play in my local baseball league, hit a home run, and break a windshield then I need to personally pony up for the break? There are signs warning people of potential consequenses of parking there.

So, if I am unable to pay, my options are to either hit softer and not make home runs, or simply stop playing, because I cannot afford the bodywork should I do something that is routine and even encouraged in the sport.

I'm not sure I like the way this is going. It's one thing if I'm hitting balls in a local field and break something nearby. Clearly that's something I should pay for! But to extend that to property adjacent to a usual place of sport--I'm not sure I would agree in all circumstances.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 12:50 AM on July 3, 2005


Yah, if the house is on the course -- if it's in one of those country-club developments -- then *some* of the problem is that you put a golf ball through someone's window, but *some* of the problem is that some ninny put his house where the golf balls inevitably go. Buying a house on a golf course and then bitching about the occasional broken window is a bit like moving next to a gravel pit and complaining about the noise.

If it's off the property, it's different. Except that I would expect (in the sense of predict, not require) the golf course to be financially responsible for most consequences of normal golf games on their property, which would include the odd innocently misplaced ball irritating neighbors.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:35 AM on July 3, 2005


I'm going to add to the side that says you are responsible for the damages. Sorry, but when you break things you should pay for it. As others have pointed out, you may be able to get away with it, but we both know that ethically you should pay for it. Perhaps if your errant golf ball would have knocked out the teeth of a fellow golfer this point would be clearer?

Foul baseballs apply as well.
posted by sic at 3:07 AM on July 3, 2005


I'm with everyone who said "You did something, therefore it is your responsibility".

I have no idea how anyone could even begin to think otherwise. No idea at all. It doesn't matter whether you meant to do it or not. If someone accidentally prangs your car, are they in the clear because they didn't mean it?

You did it. Who else is responsible for what you did? No one. Own up and pay up.
posted by Decani at 5:54 AM on July 3, 2005


I'm a bit disappointed with the way I've been morally attacked on this board. I personally gave my phone number and e-mail address to the owner of the house and told him to contact me and we'd work something out, but apparently my curiosity about the risk that homeowners assume while living on a golf course and its legal ramifications makes me a pretty despicable human being, but I thank those of you who gave thoughtful responses without attacking me personally.
posted by sicem07 at 8:10 AM on July 3, 2005


sicem07: Yeah, responses are inconsistent around here. Some of the people lecturing you would have been happy to give you advice about illegal drugs (they have done so when there are such questions).

I am afraid it gets worse. Cribcage, after posting his little tantrum above, also began a MeTa thread that is (obviously) related.
posted by mlis at 9:01 AM on July 3, 2005


I say: definitely not responsible either morally or financially. The homeowner knowingly accepted the risk by placing a house and skylight in harm's way. And, I should add, compounded the risk by using a cheap-ass skylight that would break with the force of a golfball. Questions like this infuriate me. Of course the homeowner is responsible. People who want someone else to pay for the negative outcomes of every stupid decision they make are part of the reason we can't have a nice society.
posted by found missing at 9:22 AM on July 3, 2005


MLIS - maybe cribcage was thinking that anyone who's a regular round here would have seen the criticism coming and posted a little more explanation with the question?

i think it's fair to say that the attitude in askme emphasises personal responsibility (something that to me, as a foreigner, i always saw as particularly positive american trait). so both criticising someone for (apparently) trying to avoid responsibility for damage they have done and providing someone with information on drugs for personal use are not inconsistent. in both cases, people are assuming that it's personal moral behaviour, rather than blind rule-following, that is important.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:29 AM on July 3, 2005


I tend to think everyone's being way to hard on this guy. If you're out practicing your swing in your backyard and you nail your neighbours house, sure, you're responsible. An errant t-shot off a community course built within an existing community - bit of a grey area, but the houses were there before the golfers, so I tend to think a half and half split of responsibility. An errant t-shot off a private golf/live development where people bought the house precisely because it was on the damned golf course? They should have insurance to cover the damage or live somewhere safer. Personal responsibility is all well and good, but the homeowners have some, as well.

There's actually been a huge legal battle over this basic issue in Toronto, lately, though. And the courts don't agree with my interpretation. They held the club itself responsible for the damage.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:45 AM on July 3, 2005


Am I responsible for the bill? I've heard pretty much every answer under the sun, so some specific evidence would be nice.

What would have been nice was if everyone rushing in to share their outrage had just shut up and moved along to another question or spent some time researching an answer.

It might be that the laws in Texas require the Golf Course to pay for the damage to the house.

How do answers like "Hell of a shot. Of course you're responsible." help answer the question?

I will wait for the next AskMe question where someone asks about a car accident and see if the same people show up and rip into the person. "Man Up and pay for it yourself" et cetera. Why let the insurance company pay, right?
posted by mlis at 10:01 AM on July 3, 2005


Related question: I'm thinking about buying a house adjacent to a golf course. As an art lover, I'd like to install a sculpture on my lawn--something like this. It is my private property, after all. Do I have a reasonable expectation of compensation for any damages from parties hitting errant golf balls?
posted by found missing at 11:58 AM on July 3, 2005


This has nothing to do with "manning up" and accepting responsibility. Its obvious he was responsible for hitting the ball into the window. But, I'm going to have to say that he is not responsible for paying for the damage since he was not breaking any rules of the club (I'm assuming).

When my softball team plays in the intramurals at college, there is the occasional home run (as well as the occasional foul) that blows out someone's windshield. The school covers the cost of the repairs. I'm going to say the same applies here.

If your driving and your car drives over a pebble and it shoots up into someone's window and breaks it, are you responsible to pay for it? No.
posted by Mroz at 3:42 PM on July 3, 2005


If your driving and your car drives over a pebble and it shoots up into someone's window and breaks it, are you responsible to pay for it? No.

Right - your property damage liability insurance is responsible to pay for it, and you indirectly wind up paying for it next year in higher premiums. If you don't have property damage liability insurance on your car, on the other hand, you are indeed responsible for paying for it, just as you would be if you drove your car through the showroom window of Macy's down in Union Square.

I think the main thing that sicem07 needs to take responsibility for right now is improving his handicap.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:35 PM on July 3, 2005


My final project in grad school was a design for a minor league ballpark. In left field was "housing for baseball fans". Of course these houses had windows facing the field. I designed them as one might design a pinball machine -- plunking a large window would win fewer oohs and aahs than hitting a smaller one.

Meanwhile, I am surprised that a golf ball would break a skylight. I am surprised that the skylight was not tempered glass and therefore resistant to the sky raining golf balls and, while I only skimmed the last few posts, did I miss the bit that says how you know your shot broke the skylight?

While I think it is noble(?) to "man-up" to the damage, I don't know if I feel that the sicem07 should be held responsible.
posted by Dick Paris at 5:56 PM on July 3, 2005


found missing writes "The homeowner knowingly accepted the risk by placing a house and skylight in harm's way."

My take.

jacquilynne writes "An errant t-shot off a private golf/live development where people bought the house precisely because it was on the damned golf course? They should have insurance to cover the damage or live somewhere safer. Personal responsibility is all well and good, but the homeowners have some, as well. "

Exactly, I couldn't believe all the hostility. Been a lot of whining around here (Alberta) lately because the province won't pony up any money to help people who own recreation properties damaged by the recent flooding. The owners are all "Whaa! we can't get flood insurance and look at all the damage". Ya think if no one will even cut you a policy you just might be a high risk and should either accept the risk, or not buy, or build something that won't be damaged by water?
posted by Mitheral at 9:59 AM on July 4, 2005


Sicem: You got shat upon wrongly.
You are "responsible" for the accident, in that you caused it. This is not necessarily congruent with financial responsibility. Check with the club first. The libertarian asswipes just wanted to jump on you today. Sorry.
posted by klangklangston at 7:21 AM on July 5, 2005


TALK TO THE CLUB. I'm sure you are not the first person to have done something like it considering the house is so close.
posted by aGreatNotion at 11:41 AM on July 6, 2005


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