Can a golf ball to the head kill you? Can getting hit by a golf ball kill you? Can you actually kill a duck with a golf ball? Can you kill someone with a golf ball? Can a golf ball kill you?


A golf ball’s so tiny that the very idea of it killing someone may sound not just improbable but completely ridiculous at first. However, you’d be surprised to learn that golf is more dangerous than boxing or rugby, statistics show that 40,000 golf players seek emergency treatment every year for injuries received from golf clubs and golf balls. So, even this leisurely sport isn’t devoid of accidents, and some of these accidents can be fatal. That’s why this article investigates some pretty important questions. Can a golf ball kill you? Can you kill someone with a golf ball?

We’ll explore some important factors that come into play, different ways golf balls can hurt you, and a few tips to stay safe when on the green. Hope this blog will put your heart to rest.

Can a golf ball kill you? Let’s find out!

Can getting hit by a golf ball kill you?

Let’s discuss some basic facts about a golf ball. These small, white (and often yellowish) spheres typically weigh around 1.62 ounces (45.9 grams). Golf balls can have a single core or two cores, while their covers are made of rubber or urethane. Due to their low weight, golf balls aren’t lethal. However, even though they’re generally not capable of murdering a human being, a few factors can contribute to their lethality:


A simple physics lesson will prove how gravity can turn a falling bullet into a deadly substance, capable of killing a person on impact. When golf balls gain speed, they become dangerous. So, the faster they travel, the more force they exert upon impact, especially when hit by a pro golfer.


Golf balls travel significant distances in a single drive, sometimes even 300 yards if the golfer has a strong grip. On crowded golf courses, this distance poses a huge threat to the onlookers and other golfers. A random person may get struck by a ball out of nowhere.


Even after landing, golf balls can keep bouncing unpredictably and then change direction after coming into contact with a random object. This unexpected change in direction makes golf balls more likely to hit a person.


Golf balls are lightweight spheres made of hard materials, such as rubber and plastic. That’s why they can injure a person upon impact.

Lack of awareness

Many large-scale golf courses have areas with minimum visibility (or when you’re using white balls after and it’s getting dark). So, golfers may be unaware of people standing or walking in the path of their shots.

Errant shots

Even seasoned golfers can make erroneous shots after mishitting the ball. An errant shot may end up hitting an innocent person, pretty much how baseball players often hit someone sitting in the audience.

Course layout

If a golf course is located near a road, house, or public area, stray shots can leave the course and hit pedestrians.

In short, golf balls aren’t generally harmful and won’t kill you on impact. But some factors do add to their lethality, such as speed, distance, and unpredictable bounces. That’s why you should be cautious when playing on the green and get familiar with your surroundings. Also, ask the golf course’s management to hold organized golf tournaments and ask spectators to stay at a safe distance. We’ll discuss these safety tips in detail later.

A scene from The Descendants (2011)

Different ways a golf ball can hurt you

But can a golf ball kill you? Or – let’s redefine the question – can a golf ball to the head kill you if you’re not careful enough? As we’ve just discussed, golf balls rarely kill people but errant hits do injure people. That’s why it’s important to learn how exactly golf balls can harm you. What are the different ways golf balls have hurt people? Consider these examples:

Direct impact

This one’s pretty simple i.e., a golf ball strikes a person on the head (or another body part) and kills them. When hit with force, golf balls can cause bruises, blind you in the eye, even break a bone or two, or cut you badly. It all depends on how fast the ball was going.

High-speed impact

If the ball was going extremely fast – for instance, a shot made by Jack Nicklaus or Rob O’Neill – it can easily cause a major injury on impact. That’s because an object will gain more kinetic energy when moving at a higher velocity, causing more damage when it lands.

Falling golf balls

As explained before, mishitting a ball can make it ascend way up in the sky and then fall back down with speed. The higher it goes, the more potential energy it gains, becoming a stray bullet as it lands, sometimes on an innocent spectator’s head, unfortunately.


A golf course constructed near a busy road can be a threat to moving vehicles; it happens rarely and only when a golfer’s shot goes off course. However, when a stray shot does hit a car, it can cause property damage and even cause roadside accidents.

Spectator risks

Spectators can put themselves in a place of danger during professional tournaments when they disregard safety precautions and try to take pictures of pro golfers. If a spectator isn’t standing behind protective barriers, they may get hurt.

That’s why golf courses are designed with proper safety standards to prevent the rare but tragic injuries caused by errant shots. Golfers also bear safety in mind when they mishit a golf ball. So, we’ll discuss some tips to stay safe when playing golf. Thus, follow these tips to minimize the potential risk on the golf course.

Image Source – Scene from the movie The Other Guys (2010) where golfers bring down a chopper with golf balls

Tips to stay safe when playing golf

Can a golf ball kill you? Rarely, but yes. Can you kill someone with a golf ball? Again, it’s rare but a possibility. In 2021, a 70-year-old Australian man was hit in the head by a golf ball and died. His death was ruled a freak accident. However, the dangers of errant golf balls can very easily be minimized. You just have to follow these simple tips:

Stay alert

Yes, it’s that easy. You just have to stay alert and mindful of your surroundings whether you’re playing golf or walking near a golf course. Watch out for your fellow sportsmen teeing off nearby and avoid errant shots.

Pay attention

Golfers will often call out warnings like “fore” when a shot gets off course. This warning shout means an errant ball is headed your way. So, move out of its path or take cover.

Use designated pathways

Golf courses have designated pathways for pedestrians and cart drivers alike. When navigating a wide course, stick to these routes. Also, don’t cross fairways without permission.

Protective barriers

If you’re a spectator enjoying a good game of golf, stay behind the protective barrier. It’s for your safety. Staying behind the ropes will keep you safe from stray shots.

“Respect my authoritah”

Get familiar with the golf course’s specific safety rules. It means following posted signs, obeying clear-cut guidelines, and never violating the safety standards.

Keep a distance

If a golfer is about to take a shot, maintain a safe distance from them. Respect their personal space and avoid standing in their line of sight.

Be visible

Don’t stand in the blind spots where a golfer might not see you. Always remain visible so others won’t accidentally hit you with a golf ball. For instance, avoid walking up a ridge when a golfer is about to tee off.

Wear bright colors

Just as yellow golf balls are appreciated for better visibility, wearing bright colors will help other golfers spot you easily. Make reflective clothing your chosen golfing attire.

Protective gear

Nothing is preventing you from taking extra precautions and wearing protective gear. Wear a helmet, for instance, or carry an umbrella if the helmet seems too conspicuous. It will serve as a protective shield, reducing the impact force of a falling golf ball.

In short, golf courses are generally safe, and there’s a very small chance of getting hit in the head by a stray shot. Only a few people die from these harmless, little spheres. However, just as small toys are a choking hazard for little kids or drinking too much water can actually poison you, golf balls aren’t 100% safe either. You need to be careful when on the grass and obey all the tips mentioned above. So, can a golf ball to the head kill you? Yes, but only if you are not even a little bit careful on the golf course.

Irish golfer Kevin Le Blanc got in hot waters when his errant shot hit a spectator on the head (Source)

Taking legal action after getting hit by a golf ball

After the question “Can a golf ball kill you?” comes another question “Can I sue someone after getting hit in the head by a golf ball?” in some people’s minds. Well, you can always take legal action if a stray golf ball causes you harm or kills your loved one/s.

Here is one example for your consideration: In 2016, a golfer named Kevin Le Blanc was sued by a spectator Colm Campbell in Ireland when an errant shot hit the spectator’s head, causing him to fall unconscious and later suffer from constant headaches. The spectator maintained that Le Blanc was negligent as he didn’t shout “fore”. However, Le Blanc maintained that Campbell was the negligent one as he constantly talked with his friends and didn’t pay attention to the game. In 2021, a judge dismissed Campbell’s claims against Le Blanc.

But remember that these lawsuits depend on how much evidence you have and the nature of your injuries. Here are some factors that determine the future of your injury claim:


It all starts with proving negligence. Can you show that the golfer was being negligent when they hit you in the head? You have to show that that person failed to exercise reasonable care, and the negligence directly resulted in your injury.

Risk assumption

Most golfers will assume some level of risk when hitting the ball. So, if you voluntarily exposed yourself to this risk by being in an area where golf balls are commonly hit, you and only you are blameworthy.

Warning signs

Not reading warning signs will make you responsible for your injuries. Disregarding warning signs can affect your ability to make a successful claim.

Comparative negligence

If you were partially at fault for the injury then you can only recover a significantly lower amount of compensation.

Injury severity

The severity of your bills and the total cost of recovery will impact the final compensation. That is why you should document your medical bills and emotional damage before filing a claim.


Golf courses often have liability insurance to cover any accidents taking place on the premises. Your lawyer can come to a settlement with the at-fault party and gain compensation easily if that party or that golf course has enough insurance.

Statute of limitations

You can file a claim within a limited timeframe after either getting a golf ball injury or learning about it. When this deadline passes, the statute of limitations will expire, meaning that you can’t take legal action against the guilty party anymore.

In short, you should hire a personal injury lawyer to get accurate information. Talk to your legal representative, tell them the whole story, and listen to what they have to say. Make sure your attorney specializes in golf-related injuries or at least has ample experience working on similar cases in the past. With the right lawyer by your side, you can easily take justice against another golfer whose negligence caused you harm.

Spectators and fans getting hit by stray golf balls is a pretty common occurrence


So, can getting hit by a golf ball kill you? It happens rarely but you should be mindful of errant balls and stray shots when on the green. A golf ball can gain dangerous speed or height when hit with force. That’s why you should be mindful of your surroundings when playing or enjoying this graceful sport. Pay attention to the safety guidelines provided by the management, listen to someone when they shout “fore”, and wear protective gear.

These simple tips will keep you safe from off-course golf balls.

FAQs – Can a golf ball kill you?

Q1. How fast can a golf ball travel?

Golf balls can travel with a velocity of 150 miles per hour when struck by pro golfers. A fallen bullet comes down with the same speed, interestingly. So, you can guess how dangerous such errant shots can get.

Q2. Are golf-related injuries rare?

Sadly, they are not rare. Yes, deaths from golf ball strikes are pretty rare. But golfers do get a lot of other kinds of injuries. As mentioned in the beginning, golf can be much more dangerous than rugby.

Q3. Why do golfers yell “fore” after hitting the ball?

When golfers mishit a ball and realize it’s an errant shot, they will scream the word “fore”, telling others to watch out for it. The origins of this word lie in Gaelic or Scottish.

Q4. What safety measures can I take to stay safe from golf balls?

You can take a lot of simple, easy measures to avoid getting hit by a wayward golf ball most important of which is this: Don’t stand too close to a golfer who’s about to take a shot. Stay alert, keep a safe distance from other players, and use caution when walking on the course.

Q5. What to do when someone gets hit by a golf ball?

Okay, here’s what you should do if someone gets hit by a golf ball. Seek medical attention immediately, especially if the person shows signs of serious injury. It’s also a good idea to report the incident to the golf course staff or authorities.

Q6. How fast does a golf ball travel when hit?

Okay, the speed of a golf ball can vary depending on several factors, including the club used, the swing speed of the golfer, and the conditions of the course. However, golf balls can travel at speeds of up to 160 miles per hour or more when hit with a driver.

Q7. What are my chances of being hit by a golf ball?

Your dances of being hit by a dimpled sphere are relatively low. Most likely, you will never have to go through the pain of being hit by a golf ball, especially if you are following safety guidelines and staying alert on the course. However, accidents can happen, so take precautions.

Q8. What are the common injuries caused by golf balls?

Common injuries include bruises, cuts, broken bones, and occasionally more severe injuries like concussions. Also, golf balls can cause serious injury if they strike someone in a vulnerable area, such as the head or throat.

Q9. How do I stay safe when playing golf?

If you want to stay safe when playing golf, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and alert others when you are about to hit the ball (call out “fore”). Also, stand a safe distance away from other players and avoid walking in front of someone who is preparing to swing.

Q10. Can you actually kill a duck with a golf ball?

Remember that episode from Curb Your Enthusiasm in which Larry David kills a black swan? Yes, you can easily kill a duck or a bird with a bad shot. So, avoid playing close to wildlife or you can get in trouble with the law for harming/poaching animals.

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