Golf: Players risking thousands

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PLENTY of Capital golfers are still uninsured despite a recent high-profile incident in the Lothians setting off alarm bells in the game.

Anthony Phee was awarded £397,000 after he lost an eye following the incident at Niddry Castle from a wayward tee shot.

It was struck by James Gordon, who was deemed 70 per cent liable and the West Lothian club 30 per cent liable for having no warning signs at the tee or path in question.

Press coverage of that led to insurance companies receiving a sudden burst of business from some worried golfers.

But, according to one Edinburgh-based broker, the vast majority of golf club members in Scotland still don’t have specific golf insurance.

Add in the thousands of nomadic players who are also out on courses and he warned it is “a dangerous situation”. David Miller, golf director at Carrick Neill, said: “In Scotland, I think we’ve got 250,000 affiliated members and probably less than 50,000 will actually have specific golf insurance.

“There’s the nomadic golfers as well and, while some have a contingency, a lot of golfers are still uninsured.”

Miller believes a lot of players are completely unaware they could be personally liable for injuring someone with a stray shot.

“That would have been the case with the guy at Niddry Castle if he hadn’t been covered,” he added. “He’d have been liable for £280,000.

“People are risking things like their house and car if they can’t pay back what they are due.

“In the last 12 months we have settled more than 1200 claims. A lot of those were property damage and also hole-in-one claims, but we deal with probably 50 or 60 liability claims each year and have two sizeable ones outstanding.

“A lot of people suffer the ‘it won’t happen to me syndrome’. It is not until they read something like the incident at Niddry Castle that they realise for as little as £20 per year they can get peace of mind.

“It is important to bear in mind the quality of the product you choose and not be swayed by cheap premiums and free gifts. The old adage ‘cheapest is not always best’ is likely to be true and, most importantly, you need cover you can trust.”

Duddingston member Miller, one of the top amateurs in the Lothians, has worked for Carrick Neill for more than a decade.

Its individual ‘Golfers Policy’ is endorsed by both the Scottish and English Golf Unions while the company also provides commercial cover for more than 600 clubs in Britain.

“We place £3.5 million of business and have eight people concentrating exclusively on golf insurance in our office,” said Miller, who starts his own season in earnest this weekend in the Lothians Championship qualifying at Harburn and Pumpherston.

The plus-three man has reached the semi-finals twice in recent years, losing to Steven Armstrong at Longniddry in 2008 then, two years ago, to Craig Elliot at Royal Burgess.

“Business commitments and a one-year-old daughter have curtailed my golf a bit over the past year but hopefully I can get into the matchplay phase again,” he said.