Guest Post Contributed By Casey Shomo of Casey Shomo Law
The law and golf intersect surprisingly often; not only do many lawsuits arise from negligent players and bad course conditions, but what it takes to be a good golfer in many ways also applies to being a fine lawyer.
Playing by the Rules
Just as the law is all about hard rules and regulations, golf has multiple parameters that must be met, or the player faces penalties. For instance, In the rules of golf, there are a lot of infractions that can lead to two-stroke penalties: grounding a club in the bunker, playing the wrong ball, and interfering with a moving ball are some of the no-nos. If the golfer fails to fix any of these errors before teeing off on the next hole, disqualification results. To a college golf coach, this would be a considerable red flag.
Trying to up one’s game and break par is a measurable goal, and sacrifices must be made to get there. Just as it takes an incredible amount of studying to pass the bar exam—and for some, multiple attempts—without constant practice and “stick-to-it-ness,” there would be no professional circuit. Those who don’t put in the time and dedication won’t get very far, whether on the golf course or in the courtroom.
The calm judgment it takes to win in court also applies to the golf course. According to pro golfer Jim Furyk, when hitting a shot out of a bad spot, golfers need to relax. “Most amateurs get intimidated by tough shots . . . you tense up and forget about the keys to escaping the situation you’re in,” he says. Furyk also urges golfers to keep their expectations realistic. Indeed, trying to showboat and be too risky can cost you strokes that stop you from making par.
Likewise, if you can’t stay focused at the negotiating table or in front of a jury, it can lead to a costly mistake that could blow your client’s case.
Never Giving Up
Perseverance is key to both practicing law and playing golf. Hitting in the rough, losing a ball in the water, finding evidence, proving guilt, these are all roadblocks to success for those who don’t realize that when there’s a will, there’s a way.
Staying Above the Law
In making the transition from golfer to lawyer, keep an eye on the news. A surprising number of lawsuits originate on the golf course. Anything from poor conditions to enraged or negligent golfers result in litigation. Not only are slip-and-fall accidents very common, costing courses millions for improper maintenance, so are claims that inaccurate course markers can result in players hitting people in the fairway.
Another common issue is lawsuits between friends who head out to blow off steam and end up injuring each other by not taking proper precautions. In one case, a golfer destroyed the vision in his friend’s eye. Other golfing mishaps have caused head trauma. Court defenses often contend something golfers know all too well: that the balls often do what they want to against our will. There is no saying where a stray ball will end up, but we all can take reasonable care that the potential area is clear.
Even Costco faced a lawsuit for its Kirkland golf balls. It was sued by the Titleist golf ball maker, Acushnet, for patent infringement and for false advertising.
In the end, as all lawyers know, where there are people, there are potential lawsuits. And where there are junior golfers, there are potential lawyers—some of whom could find work representing golfers in personal injury cases.