Golfers must adopt a bunker mentality

Sport's biggest hazard isn't the sand and water, but that little white ball

Sports Plus

April 14, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Mark Twain wrote that golf is a good walk spoiled.

And nothing can spoil it even more than getting hit in a head with an errant shot. And, worse, not being able to sue and collect.

Robert Elker was lighting a cigar 20 yards behind the pin at Brigantine Golf Links near Atlantic City, N.J., on Aug. 31, 1997, when a member of his foursome, self-described novice Michael Corrigan, let fly with a shot from 100 to 150 feet away.

Plunk. The shot hit Elker in the head. He required immediate emergency room treatment and still bears a dent from the impact, said Joseph S. Lukomski, his lawyer.

Elker's suit against Corrigan was dismissed by Superior Court Judge William C. Todd III, who ruled that bad shots are part of the game, "even the essence of the game in some ways." An appeal for reinstatement was rejected last month.

"Inept execution ... hardly bespeaks recklessness," wrote Appellate Judges Stephen Skillman and Philip S. Carchman.

To Lukomski, the decision turns the golf course into a combat zone.

"If you're going to hurt somebody, that's the place to do it," he told the Associated Press. "You can fire away."

So if you're planning on playing a round, make sure your health insurance is current. And consider a helmet.

Pond scum

Paul Lovelace runs a golf ball salvage business in Kansas City, Kan., and has collected plenty of things from golf-course lake bottoms - golf carts, bikes, shoes, bowling balls, flags and spear guns.

"I found a bag of clubs with the guy's address on the bag," he told USA Today. "When I called him, he said he didn't want them. He said they were in the pond for a reason."

More head games

In Florida last year, State Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite was knocked unconscious by a baseball thrown by a 12-year-old before a Dixie Youth League game.

The boy was warming up at third base when the umpire yelled, "Balls in." His throw clipped Brown-Waite, 57, who was at the game to throw out the first pitch.

She suffered a black eye and headaches, but didn't have the sense knocked out of her.

"The kid has a powerful pitch," Brown-Waite said. "I want to be his agent."

Wild scheme

Taco Bell floated a 40-by-40-foot vinyl target 10 miles off Australia last year. If the Mir space station had hit it, every American would have gotten a free taco.

"For its next marketing trick," says David Whitley of the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, "Taco Bell will put the target behind home plate at Busch Stadium and give every American a free taco if Rick Ankiel can hit it."

Beware of flying objects

Other scatter-armed players have been the butts of jokes:

Tim Kawakami in the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News on Chuck Knoblauch's move from second base to left field: "Yeah, so he can throw out all those runners trying to advance to the mezzanine seats."

Comedy writer John Klima: "We'll never forget the fight in Wrigley Field when [catcher Todd Hundley] threw a punch that took two bounces in the dirt before it hit the guy."

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel on quarterback Akili Smith: "I'm thankful he's not ahead of me in the tollbooth line. Every time he throws his coins in the exact-change basket, he misses."

Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post recalling the late Al McGuire's line about Billy Packer: "He had a great outside shot, but forgot that basketball is played indoors."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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