Golfers in the rough over injury claims

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GOLFERS across Britain may be forced to take out insurance against causing other injury to other players after a court ruled that errant players are liable for accidents - no matter how slight the risk, writes Andrew Buncombe.

The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld a county court ruling that Anthony Lightening was liable to pay damages to a fellow golfer who was hit in the eye with a stray ball. He was trying to hit a ball over a coppice towards the green, but it struck a tree, deflected at right angles and hit John Pearson, standing between 80 and 90 yards away on the next fairway. Mr Pearson was "poleaxed" and has not been able to play golf since.

Three appeal court judges decided that Mr Lightning was liable even though he had shouted "fore" when the ball was mishit. Mr Lightning's solicitor, Peter Shergold, said after the hearing that the ruling would affect all golfers and their approach to playing any shot when other players were around.

"The dilemma will be whether to get on with the game and abide by the rules or to wait until the area is completely clear of other players so that they do not set themselves up to the risk of being sued," he said.

The damages will be assessed at another hearing at the county court in Southampton where both players live.

Mr Lightning, 45, a left-handed golfer with a 16 handicap, was playing the tenth hole at Dunwood Manor Golf Club in Romsey, Hampshire, in October 1992 and had mishit his tee shot.