Indiana Court of Appeals: Golfers Owe No Duty to Other Golf "Participants"

In an appeal yesterday, Cassie E. Pfenning v. Joseph E. Lineman, Whitey’s 31 Club, Inc., Marion Elks Country Club Lodge #195, and The Estate of Jerry A. Jones, No. 27A02-0905-CV-444, the Indiana Court of Appeals applied the well-settled rule that there is no duty from one participant in a sports activity to another to prevent injury resulting from an inherent risk of the sport.”

Cassie Pfenning was a sixteen-year-old girl at the time of the incident in July 2007. She was invited by Jerry Jones to assist in running the beverage cart, as many golf outings require. After many substitutions of drivers, Pfenning was asked to operate the cart with the assistance of staff. She was struck in the mouth with a golf ball from a drive on the #16 Tee on the Elks County Club Lodge in Marion, Indiana, and sustained substantial medical and dental injuries.

The court reiterated that “participant” includes “any person who is part of the sporting event or practice involved,” which includes, “players, coaches, and players who are sitting on the bench during play.” Geiersbach v. Frieje, 807 N.E.2d 114 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), trans. denied. Here, the court extended “participant” to include volunteers for golf outings. The court affirmed the Grant Superior Court’s granting of Summary Judgment for all Defendants by Judge Jeffrey L. Todd in Cause No. 27D01-0702-CT-127.

So, be wary those of you who seek to volunteer in golf outings. Your recovery for any injuries may be limited. Golfers: Make sure to yell, “FORE!”