Stray golf balls causes property damage in River Oaks communities; golf course not responsible

Updated: Aug. 17, 2020 at 7:29 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - For the River Oaks communities in Horry County, a game of golf is leaving some neighbors with thousands of dollars worth of property damage.

The big question is who’s liable to pay for those damages: the homeowner, the golf course or neither.

It’s called errant golf ball liability when a stray golf ball hits someone’s window or causes other damages unintentionally.

“See how there’s pieces missing on the stairs. I mean it happens all the time,” River Oaks resident Isel Osoria said.

Osoria has called the River Oaks neighborhood her home since 2018. She has grown accustomed to the sounds of golf balls hitting her building and now her window.

“Golfers should be responsible for the actions, but the golf course should be held accountable as well,” she said.

Some of the River Oaks golf course is just steps from Osoria’s backyard with golfers teeing a few feet away.

She said on Saturday a ball flew through her window. She’s since put up cardboard and plastic to seal the opening.

Osoria said it’s the worst damage yet.

“I saw the glass in my chair, in my dining room area and rug and then I look out my balcony and the golfers sped off,” Osario said. “You would think someone in good faith would’ve come and knocked on my door and said, ‘Hey this happened,’ but that’s not the case.”

She said Home Depot estimated the cost of damages to her window around $2,000 since it needs to be hurricane-proof.

Attorney Dalton Floyd said in these incidents, the golf course isn’t responsible nor the golfer unless they intentionally aim at the property.

He said the homeowner ultimately assumes the risk when they buy the property.

“The golf course is usually there first and then they build the house there so they assume liability because they knew they were building on a golf course,” Floyd said.

The property’s master deed also states owners are responsible for any damages to windows, but Osoria said she was unaware of possible golf ball damage when she bought the condo.

Some neighbors have put up plexiglass for more protection.

Still, Osoria believes more should be done.

“If I am responsible fine,” she said. “There should be netting. There should be something happening so that the homeowners are protected, as well as the golf course so that they don’t have to deal with accidents happening.”

Osoria said her homeowner’s insurance is able to pay for a $1,000 worth of damages. The rest will be out-of-pocket.

We reached out to the golf course management. We were told they had no comment for this story.

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