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Golfer is sued after ball spotter blinded in one eye

A BALL spotter at a golf tournament is suing a professional player for damages after he was blinded in one eye by a golf ball.

ACTION: David McMahon is taking legal action against Gavin Dear.
ACTION: David McMahon is taking legal action against Gavin Dear.

David McMahon was on the course at Leven Links, in Fife, when he was struck during the Scottish Amateur Champion of Champions competition in April 2009.

Mr McMahon, 70, of Letham Avenue, Leven, raised an action seeking £50,000 against Gavin Dear, a former Walker Cup player who turned professional later in 2009, at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

A judge was told the amount of damages has now been agreed between lawyers in the action. Liability is still being contested.

Mr McMahon said he had approached a couple at a mound on the course who had strayed off a path and asked them to leave as they were in danger where they were standing.

He said Mr Dear was standing on the edge of the semi rough at the 12th. Another golfer, who was playing with him, was on the fairway at the 6th. He said he turned to walk back to his golf buggy when he was hit in the eye by a ball.

He told the court: "I landed right on the ground. The ball hit me and I went down.

"I covered my eye with my mitt, my glove. I took my glove back and it was full of blood."

Mr McMahon said he shouted to a referee. He was asked by his counsel, Ronald Clancy, QC, if he heard anyone shout a warning before he was hit by the ball and replied: "No."

Mr Clancy asked him what he would have done if at the point he turned away from speaking to the spectators to return to the buggy he had heard the traditional warning shout of "fore".

Mr McMahon responded: "I would have become the ground.

"I have been hit eight times by golf balls and, take my word for it, it is sore."

The retired bus driver said the incident where he lost sight in one eye was the ninth time.

Mr McMahon said he had been a regular golfer who would play twice a day when the weather was good.

He denied that he was behind the buggy and emerged out into the path of the ball when questioned by Graham Primrose, QC, for the golfer.

In the action it is said that the victim suffered a traumatic rupture of the right eyeball resulting in blindness to the eye.

It is alleged that Mr Dear knew, or ought to have known, that Mr McMahon was in line with the path of his ball to the sixth hole.

It is claimed that had the golfer exercised reasonable care in ensuring that no-one was standing in a position to be struck by the ball he would not have been injured.

Mr Dear, 28, of Scone, in Perthshire, maintains that neither Mr McMahon or the alleged spectators were visible at any stage to him, his playing partner or two men accompanying them on their round prior to the accident.

He said he had played his tee shot on the sixth hole into light rough which divides the sixth and 12th fairways and was content with its landing position.

He claims that he saw a buggy but there was no sign of any person at or near it.

He maintains that having considered the position of the buggy and noted the absence of any activity he proceeded to consider playing his second shot.

It is said: "He had no reason not to believe that it was safe and appropriate to do so."

It is maintained that after the ball was struck Mr McMahon emerged "suddenly and without warning" from behind a golf cart.

Mr Dear maintains in his defence in the action that he acted at all times with reasonable care in the whole circumstances.

The hearing before Lord Jones continues.

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