Golfer in kangaroo attack wins damages

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The Independent Online

Flying balls are the worst hazard to face most practitioners of the gentle sport of golf. Not so at one club in northern New South Wales, where a golfer was attacked by an angry kangaroo which boxed him to the ground and then jumped up and down on his head.

Grafton District Golf Club was yesterday ordered to pay damages to Steven Shorten, who suffered a fractured cheekbone and facial cuts during the incident in October 1996.

Mr Shorten, who was 16 at the time, was ambushed when he ventured into the long grass to retrieve a ball during a round of golf. He told the New South Wales Court of Appeal that he heard a noise "like the growling of a dog" and then saw the kangaroo reared up on its hind legs, looking straight at him.

He backed away, he told the court, but the animal, which was taller than him, chased him and grabbed him around the waist with its short forearms. He swung at it with his club and it released him, but then it returned, knocked him to the ground and jumped on him.

The kangaroo was eventually scared off by a man who ran towards them, yelling.

Mr Shorten's case was thrown out by the New South Wales District Court when he first sued the club in Grafton, 310 miles north of Sydney, claiming that it had breached its duty of care. But the appeal court ruled yesterday that the club had failed to warn golfers about the "small risk of injury from an occasional aggressive kangaroo".

Mr Justice Gerald Fitzgerald said the club had known of four previous kangaroo attacks but had taken no steps to prevent further incidents.

The club has since added a warning on its scorecards that reads: "Wildlife can be hazardous - do not approach".