It happens faster than you think, it happens all the time and it happens to the best in the world.
Nobody who moves around a golf course, as a spectator or player, professional or amateur, enthusiastic fan or referee, is immune to being hit by “stray” golf balls – with potentially dire consequences for the person hit.
Body hits and especially head hits are no longer an exception in golf. This could be seen once again at the US Open 2022 at “The Country Club” in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA. At the “come together” of the best golfers in the world for the 122nd US Open, it was this time Hall of Fame golfer Phil Mickelson who did not place his tee shot exactly on hole No.3 of the 2nd round of the tournament and landed right in the high grass.
As he got to his ball, he saw a man sitting on the ground holding a large ice pack to the right side of the back of his head while medical personnel tended to the injured man.
Instinctively, the superstar apologised and presented the fan with a signed glove. “It’s just habit” Mickelson said, earning laughter from the surrounding spectators. “Normally I would think it was me.” But to his surprise, it was not him and not his ball that hit the fan in the head and injured him, but the ball from colleague Sam Horsfiled. The ball was hit from the neighbouring hole No. 6 and did not hit the fairway, but hit the spectator directly in the head. This time, the fan was lucky and “only” got away with a bump on the head and a slightly agonised smile.
However – such “accidents” are unfortunately no longer a rarity in golf. In professional tournaments, but also in amateur golf, extremely dangerous situations occur again and again, and more and more often one finds reports and pictures on the web of less benign accidents caused by so-called stray golf balls. High spectator numbers, dense crowds around the landing zones, because one wants to get as close to the professional as possible, technical innovations, more athletic players and ever shorter golf courses, thus form the breeding ground for an increased potential danger from golf ball hits. Body hits are frequent, head hits definitely not excluded and usually with extremely bad consequences for those affected. Bumps, gaping wounds and even irreparable damage can be the result of just such hits.
This was also the painful experience of Corine Remande from France, who lost her left eye when she was hit in the head during the 2018 Ryder Cup. A tee shot landed in the crowd in 2018 and hit the Frenchwoman in the head. Accidents like this are tragic, but they always highlight the dangerous nature of golf and the risks involved.
The rapid development of golf with all its facets will not be stopped, nor should it, because all of us who play golf love the sport. But besides the most beautiful landscapes, the best golf courses and a feeling of “inner” satisfaction when playing, there is also the other side of our sport, the perhaps somewhat “darker” side – that our beloved sport also contains a certain potential for danger to life and limb. For example, “the Home of Golf”, the venerable St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland, has addressed the issue of safety on the “Old Course”. It now updates and points out potential head hits with signs along the world-famous white railings on the 18th hole, for example. The topic of safety and health, to which the company safetee technologies has dedicated itself with its products for more than 3 years, has arrived in golf and is now finally being heard more and more in the golf scene. With its patented protectors, safetee technologies offers additional invisible protection against head injuries and added value in terms of personal safety.
It is important to continue to draw attention to safety in golf, to minimise potential dangers and risks and to point to innovative solutions such as those offered by safetee technologies.