It’s pretty well established by now that you golf at your own risk, at least when it comes to the risk of getting hit by a golf ball. But the assumption-of-risk doctrine doesn’t apply if the defendant has unreasonably increased the inherent risks of a sport in some way — for example, let’s say, if he stabbed somebody with a broken golf club.
On January 27, two groups of gentlemen were enjoying a leisurely, stress-relieving game of golf at the Eagle Mountain Lake golf course near Fort Worth. As sometimes happens, one of the groups was playing faster than the other. In this circumstance, etiquette calls for the faster group to ask politely for the slower group to yield so that they may “play through.” In this way, the faster group can finish more quickly and get back to whatever it is that’s so goddamn important, although they were apparently able to take the afternoon off from it to get out there in the first place.
Yes, on the rare occasions I play this game, I am in the slow group. It may look like I am frantically trying to club my way out of a snake pit, but in fact I am golfing. This is how I golf. So no, I am not a big fan of the “fast golfers.”
But I would not stab one.
According to this report, the faster group’s request to play through was rebuffed, and the argument apparently reached a point where a “course marshal” had to be called in to arbitrate. It is already stupid that there is such a thing as a “course marshal” because people can’t work out their own golf-related disputes. But here, it got quickly stupider. The marshal ruled in favor of the faster group, and that’s when things “turned ugly.”
It doesn’t seem to be clear who started the fight, or how the club was broken. Nor is it clear whether the stabbing was deliberate. The victim, who was seriously injured, said he “was on top of another man” when he was stabbed, so apparently everybody was fighting and rolling around and so it’s even possible that he impaled himself on the broken club. One of the golfers did tell the 911 dispatcher that “he fell on a golf club or something” — maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department is investigating.
“People get in arguments every day on every golf course in America,” the injured man told reporters. “But 99.9 percent of the time no one takes it this far.” There are somewhere around 17,000 golf courses in America, so if he’s right then there are a minimum of 6.2 million golf arguments every year, 6,200 of which end in stabbings. Yet another reason to stay clear of these freakishly dangerous killing fields.