Golf tournament spectator knocked unconscious by golf ball sues for damages

All the claims are denied and it is pleaded there was contributory negligence on the part of Colm Campbell

A spectator at a golf tournament who was hit on the head by a golf ball and knocked unconscious has sued for damages in the High Court.

Colm Campbell claims he is in constant pain and his life has totally changed after he was hit on the left side of his forehead during the 2016 West of Ireland Championship for amateur golfers held at County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point, Sligo.

He has sued Kevin Le Blanc, who was at the time a top amateur golfer who later turned professional for a number of years; County Sligo Golf Club and the organisers of the competition, The Golfing Union of Ireland.

When opening the case on Thursday, Liam Reidy SC instructed by Damien Tansey solicitor, said their case was that Mr Le Blanc, when in the rough at the 11th green and 12th tee box, hit the ball, it overshot the green and hit Mr Campbell on the head.


Counsel said they contend that was “an errant shot” and, if a shot is errant, there is a fundamental obligation to shout “fore” because somebody could be in its way.

“It is a key standard that applies to every golfer from the elite to the lower level, particularly in the circumstances where the match is being watched by a group of spectators,” Mr Reidy said.

Noel McCarthy SC, for Mr Le Blanc, said his case is that it was not a wayward shot but was rather a competent shot and that is why the golfer did not shout “fore”. Mr Le Blanc will say the shot was a perfectly well struck shot and not a veering one that required him to call “fore”, counsel said.

Mr Campbell (65), a father of three from Donegal town, has sued County Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point; the event organisers, The Golfing Union of Ireland National Coaching Academy Ltd, with offices at Maynooth, Co Kildare and Mr Le Blanc, Donabate, Co Dublin over the incident on March 28th, 2016.

It is claimed against the County Sligo Golf Club and the Golfing Union of Ireland there was failure to take reasonable care for the safety of spectators to give warnings to those attending the competition they ought not be located at the place where Mr Campbell suffered injury.

It is claimed against Mr Le Blanc he allegedly failed to warn spectators, including Mr Campbell, of dangers of which he ought to have been aware,

All the claims are denied and it is pleaded there was contributory negligence on the part of Mr Campbell who, it is claimed, was engaged in conversation and not looking at the golfer take the shot. It is further claimed Mr Campbell failed to draw on his own vast experience as a golfer and failed to follow the flight of the ball and adjust his position accordingly.

In evidence, Mr Campbell said he was talking, there was a bang and that is all he remembers.

He said he was kept in hospital until the early hours for observation and when discharged was in pain. “The next few days were terrible. I had a lot of pain, it did not improve,” he said.

He said he is in constant pain and has tinnitus in one of his ears which is “unbearable”.

“My life was totally changed,” he said. While he still plays “a bit of golf”, he has “a lot of fear of being hit again.”

The case continues next week before Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon.