Primary Assumption of Risk Doctrine Applies to Golf

If I didn’t already play golf, Shin v. Ahn, case no. S146114 (August 30, 2007), might be enough to scare me out of doing so.  In the course of reaching the conclusion that the primary assumption of risk doctrine applies to golf and thus reckless conduct, not mere negligence, is necessary to impose liability, the California Supreme Court reviews several cases where plaintiff was hit by a golf ball, often at extremely close range and at least once smack in the face.  Yikes.

The lesson to be drawn from Knight [v. Jewett (1992)] 3 Cal.4th 296, and its progeny, as well as the weight of authority in sister states, is that the primary assumption of risk doctrine should be applied to golf.  Thus, we hold that golfers have a limited duty of care to other players, breached only if they intentionally injure them or engage in conduct that is “so reckless as to be totally outside the range of the ordinary activity involved in the sport.” [Citation.]

Quoting one out of state case, the Supreme Court noted, “Shanking the ball is a foreseeable and not uncommon occurrence in the game of golf.  The same is true of hooking, slicing, pushing, or pulling a golf shot.  [Citation.]”  Of course, anyone who’s played golf with me already knows this.  Which is why I am hypersensitive to the positions of others when I play. Seriously.