Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

No Ordinary Bunker: Golfer Sues Course Over Quicksand Trap

Ideally, a round of golf is a good long walk, spoiled by intermittent swings of a club at a small, stationary ball, producing more or less attractive and effective arcs of flight. The more sinister golf courses impede this walk and the ball's trajectory towards a hole with various hazards of trees, water, hills, and sand, tormenting players of various skill to corresponding various degrees.

What no golfer expects, while making the leisurely rounds of nine or eighteen holes, however, is to find himself chest deep in quicksand.

Quicksand Trap

To be clear, we're not talking about being on a golf course named "Quicksand," which, to us, doesn't seem like the best way to advertise a round of golf. No, we're talking about actual quicksand, the geological feature comprised of fine granular material and water known to swallow heavy objects, like humans.

Kenneth Falk was one such human, enjoying a round of golf on Connecticut's Candlewood Valley Country Club in September 2015. Mr. Falk, like many golfers before and since, "drove a shot that went off the fairway and into the rough." He went in search of said wayward shot and found his ball "in plain view, atop some leaves."

As Mr. Falk approached the ball to take his next shot, "he suddenly and without warning, began to sink into the ground, and went all the way up to his chest." This was clearly a very different kind of sand trap than most golfers are used to, and severely hindered Mr. Falk's ability to set his feet properly, open his clubface, and take a half back swing, rotating his shoulders, and striking an area two- to four-inches behind the ball, providing plenty of spin to land the ball on the green and bring it to a stop near the hole.

Out of Bounds?

Surprisingly, that's not what Mr. Falk is suing the Candlewood Valley Country Club over. Instead, Falk claims his detour into quicksand (from which he required rescue by other golfers) caused him:

(a) left knee pain;
(b) left knee MCL sprain;
(c) difficulty walking;
(d) difficulty standing;
(e) difficulty ascending/descending stairs;
(f) gait change;
(g) left knee effusion;
(h) left knee swelling;
(i) fear for his life;
(j) suffering, both physical and mental.

Mr. Falk is asking for money damages to compensate him for his injuries, and perhaps a ruling from the United States Golf Association on whether he has to play his ball as it lies.

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