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Editorial: Do lawyers have a sweet spot?

WARNING: The following editorial may have information that excites and inflames, with graphic details about hookers, swingers, skin(s), and preferred lies, thus might not be suitable for some lawyers to read (since they’ll be too distracted to work on hot briefs).

Okay, so now that we have your attention, for the rest of you - especially those into threesomes - we’re talking about that four-letter word: golf. Aw, give us a Mulligan; it’s quite a trap going out of bounds and writing in double entendres.

Anyway, here’s what we’re driving at: Craig Brown, an insurance law prof at the University of Western Ontario, has written a new book, Why Lawyers Love Golf, that launches today.

Aside from enjoying hundreds of rounds over the past 30 years, the native New Zealander says his research has unearthed the main reason lawyers “love” the game: golf yields all sorts of situations which lead to litigation. Natch.

“I was delighted to find so many cases with interesting twists and turns. Golf and the law seem to have been made for each other,” says Craig. “Some of the cases form an interesting and important part of golf history, and some involve well-known players and places, but most of the cases involve ordinary golfers and everyday golf course occurrences.

Craig says the cases touch on many types of law, including personal injury where people get hit, property injury when houses get hit, taxation, human rights, intellectual property, employment law, and administrative law.

The book is Craig’s bid to “marry my two worlds: my professional world of legal academia and my recreational world of golf.” With his background in publishing a number of books on insurance law, he thought he’d take this material and present it in some instances like a textbook by providing information that might be useful for lawyers in their professional work. But it’s also written in a way that’s accessible to so-called non-lawyers.

And, it features cartoons contributed by Auckland University law Prof. Rick Bigwood. Biting. Tongue.

There’s the story about the guy who won a car by getting a hole-in-one in a tournament, but was denied because the rule was to get it on hole two, and since it was a nine-hole and his second time around, organizers tried to say it was his eleventh hole. He sued, and won the car.

There’s the case that went to the Supreme Court by a guy who tried to patent a new type of tee. The court said it’s pretty hard to come up with something new to stick in the ground and balance a ball on top. They scratched it.

There’s a case from Carnoustie, Scotland, where in the 1920s the revered club unsuccessfully fought a levy for taxes on its greens fees.

There are cases that reflect the sport’s history, including those about exclusion of women and exclusivity of private clubs, while chapters cover themes like caddies, clubhouses, hits on the golf course, professionals, and crime.

And there’s the one about the guy who had a contract with a golf club to at night harvest worms to sell as bait, but they didn’t tell him that’s when they sprayed the course with natural manure. He sued for breach of contract and lost: he should’ve allowed for that in the terms.

For lawyers, golf is “a rather pleasant form of ambulance chasing, because you never know when there’ll be some golf-related legal point that comes up

. . . There’s the combination of exercise, intellectual challenge, social enjoyment, and certain business advantages,” says Craig. And an ace of a book idea.

“It turns out golf is a breeding ground for litigation.” Ahem.

Casual observation suggests indeed lawyers are littering the links. And lovin’ it. But what will the docs say?

(Contact McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP or

Gretchen Drummie
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