Pinehurst, N.C. — A jury ruled Friday that a Texas golfer isn't eligible to receive any money in his lawsuit against Pinehurst Resort and another golfer who hit him in the head with a shot.
Businessman John Cottam said he was on the ninth hole of the Pinehurst No. 8 course in September 2003 when Jeff Dalton's tee shot came soaring down the dogleg fairway and struck him in the head. Cottam suffered brain damage from the incident, his attorneys said during the four-week trial.
Cottam initially sued Dalton in Texas, but the suit was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. He refiled the suit in North Carolina two years ago, also naming Pinehurst Resort and its owner, ClubCorp, as defendants, claiming that safety rules weren't posted or enforced.
But a jury said both Cottam and Jeff Dalton, a professional player in Australia, were both negligent in the incident. Under North Carolina law, that prevents Cottam from collecting any damages.
Jurors also cleared the resort and ClubCorp of any wrongdoing.
Local golfers agreed that Dalton should have checked to see if the fairway was clear before teeing off. Monitors are located throughout the course to give golfers a peek at where other foursomes are.
"We always look into (a monitor) before teeing off, and when it's not working, we drive up and take a look," golfer Bruce Monteith said. "It's mostly common sense."
Still, golfers said getting hit by balls is part of the game, and they didn't think Dalton should be held liable for it.
"It's unfortunate that someone gets hit and they're damaged. I've been playing golf for 30 years. I've hit people, and I've been hit," said Robert Hawks, a former Pinehurst Resort employee.
"It was a mistake. I'm sure the guy didn't mean to hit him. It's the rub of the green," golfer Gene Ross said. "It's just part of the game."