Dateline: Killeen public golf course, Sunday, July 2, about 11:45 a.m. 14th tee.
We had been following a foursome of men around the course. The morning was hot, but a good steady breeze of about 20 mph kept conditions somewhere between unbearable and comfortable.
I was playing about average for me—some good shots among the bad ones. But the last two holes had gone well and I had visions of finishing strong. (That’s not germane to my story, but I wanted you to know. I don’t always hit trees and rocks.)
We finished the 13th hole and noticed that the group ahead had not yet left the next tee area. In fact, several of the golfers were standing beside the road that ran adjacent to the 14th fairway. They seemed to be looking at a shiny new Hummer H2 that had stopped there. On closer inspection we saw that the golfers were talking with two young men who had been in the vehicle.
When we pulled up at the tee area, one of the four golfers told us his buddy had hit a tee shot out over the road where it knocked a side window out of the Hummer! We assumed that apologies were being made, along with an exchange of information so the golfer could pay for the damage.
Carol has some experience in this area. A number of years ago one of HER (not MY—that’s important!) errant shots hit an oncoming car’s windshield and ruined it. Of course, the car was brand new and still had temporary tags on. We immediately admitted responsibility and arranged to pay for the windshield, only to learn (from an insurance agent we happened to be playing along with) that our homeowner’s insurance would cover the damage! Who knew?
OK, back to the Hummer. It seems that one of the young men was driving Dad’s new car, and was talking to Dad on the cell phone about the accident. Normal, right? But meanwhile the golfers were disclaiming any responsibility!
Their attitude was, they didn’t do it on purpose (well, DUH! None of them was good enough to hit a moving car if they’d aimed at it!), and the kids were taking a “known risk” by driving along a golf course.
Well, the golfer gave the “kid” (Hummer driver) his name and phone number, and we figured that was the end of it.
About 15 minutes later we still paralleling the road, and saw the Hummer drive slowly past us, with the occupants staring out over the golf course. They found the men ahead of us on the next hole and pulled over.
As Carol and I approached the area we could hear shouting. The two “kids” from the Hummer were yelling at the golfers, all of whom were now waving their arms as in disgust and yelling back. A short time later the golfers passed us going to the last hole. One stopped and told us in complete disgust that, “Them kids still think we ought to pay for the window. There’s no way in hell I’m going to pay them anything! It ain’t MY responsibility!” He rode off in his cart fuming.
I mentioned to Carol that if I’d been the kid, I would have called the police to file a report and let them and later the insurance companies sort out who had to pay for what. No good could come out of an argument and a shouting match.
By the time we had played the last hole and returned to the pro shop and clubhouse, there were two Killeen police cars in the parking lot with a small crowd of people around them.
It turns out (we learned a bit later) that Dad had shown up to confront the golfers who had damaged his new luxury SUV. In the ensuing discussion he had produced his hand gun! The police quickly determined that he had a legal permit to carry the gun, but ordered him to take it off the golf course property as it was a location where alcohol (beer) was served.
This municipal course had very recently moved its pro shop operations to a brand new building, and had failed to post their sign announcing that firearms were prohibited. Had the sign been posted, the police said they would have arrested the man, confiscated his gun and voided his permit to carry!
The man took his gun and left, and within 15 minutes the required sign was prominent in the pro-shop window.
To me, all that SHOULD have happened was an apology by the golfer, a promise to pay along with an exchange of identity and contact information, and an insurance claim. End of conflict.
That’s what I would have done.
But nobody, not even those in the clubhouse restaurant talking about the incident for the next hour or so, thought the golfer had any responsibility at all.
I don’t know what the law would say, but I’d feel a moral responsibility for the broken window (not to mention some acute embarrassment) if not a legal one. Am I nuts? Naïve?
Whatever happened to personal responsibility?