A La Plata County woman hit in the face with a golf ball at Hillcrest Golf Club says the corporation that operates the course acted “heedlessly and recklessly, without regard to consequences or of the rights and safety of others,” in a lawsuit filed last month.
The redesign and reconstruction of Hillcrest Golf Club about four years ago moved the tee box on the fourth hole so golfers had a more clear shot at the fairway. But the realignment put the fifth hole’s putting green within range of the fourth hole’s tee box, creating “dangerous activity” for golfers on the fifth-hole putting green, Anne and Dexter Herring said in a lawsuit against Durango Municipal Recreation Inc.
The Hillcrest Golf Club Board of Directors did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Durango Municipal Recreation has not filed a response to the Herrings’ lawsuit, which was filed May 24.
A golfer driving a ball on the fourth hole hit Anne Herring in the face May 26, 2018, while she was putting on the fifth hole. Herring’s eye had swollen shut, said Durango attorney Michael McLachlan, who is representing the Herrings in their lawsuit. She continues to be treated by eye doctors and physicians more than a year after her injury, McLachlan said.
After her injury, Hillcrest’s board of directors had a sign installed at the tee box on the fourth hole saying: “As a courtesy to players on #5 green please let them clear the green before hitting your tee shot. Thank you.”
‘A risk of golf’But the sign came too late and isn’t enough, the Herrings argue in their lawsuit.
Anne Herring said in the lawsuit that she was almost hit by a golf ball in 2017 while trying to sink a putt on the fifth hole. So she called the front desk and told the attendant what happened.
But Herring claims in her lawsuit that after she had notified the course staff of the hazard, Hillcrest Golf Club “failed to take any action as to the dangerous activity and condition on the putting green of Hole 5.”
It goes on to say: “(Durango Municipal Recreation) purposefully did not place such a barrier in 2017 or at any other time because it would be aesthetically ‘ugly.’”
McLachlan said his clients want Hillcrest Golf Club to install a barrier that golf balls cannot pass through, like a net or a wall, between the fourth-hole tee box and the fifth hole green. They claim the golf course was negligent and Anne Herring was injured as a result of the negligence, according to the lawsuit.
The Herrings are also seeking monetary compensation related to “medical bills, medical damages and pain and suffering and some disfigurement,” McLachlan said. His clients did not ask for a specific amount, he said.
Although being hit by a golf ball may be “ordinarily considered to be a risk of golf,” Herring’s case is unique because her injury was caused by “a design fault of the course and not something that you would ordinarily expect,” McLachlan said.
“People who play golf can expect to be hit,” McLachlan said. “But when the design of a course increases the chance of being hit on a green, that’s what makes this case unique.”