The hazards of golf deserve a closer look. In the Rules of Golf the definition of a hazard is any bunker or water hazard. However, the hazards created by course designers are the least of your worries if you play golf.
Good technique, a positive attitude, and some practice can dull their edge. Of greater importance are the hazards of golf that can pose a danger to your life and limb.
The most common injuries that require hospital treatment are from a ball or club striking the golfer on the face or head. The first fatality from a blow to the head from a ball was recorded in 1632.
You would be wise to check that you are adequately covered as many golfers wrongly believe that they are sufficiently protected by their household insurance policy. Shouting 'Fore' at the top of your voice does not excuse you from the risk, as you are liable for any shots that cause injury.
While a blow to the head can be catastrophic, you can avoid the most common of all golf injuries. These are the injuries to your soft tissues, muscles, tendons, and ligaments brought on by the twisting action of the golf swing. Chronic back pain and tendonitis in the elbow are also high on the list.
Yet with a good conditioning program and a proper warm-up before the game, you can reduce your vulnerability to these types of hazards. You should also be wary of the hazards of sun stroke and dehydration.
Ingestion of harmful chemicals is another potential danger. Amazingly there are still golfers who lick their ball to clean it before putting. A soiled golf ball picks up many toxic substances such as pesticides, weed killer and fertilizer. These can cause serious illness such as hepatitis, and in some cases death.
It is estimated that there are about 1,800 thunderstorms in progress at any one time. Lightning strikes the earth an estimated 50 to 100 times a second.
However, statistics in the United States show that the chance of being killed by lightning is one in six million. If you are planning a summer vacation, you should know that it is more dangerous to play golf in Florida than any other state.
Other accidents lie in wait for the unwary. Driving or riding in a golf cart can be dangerous, but most of the reported injuries are alcohol related. Recently a golfer lost control of his cart and drove over a cliff killing himself. There have even been incidences of people drowning in a water hazard while trying to retrieve a club.
Depending on where you live, animal attacks can also pose a risk. In Canada you read of the occasional bear attack. Not so long ago the Supreme Court in Australia ordered a local golf club to compensate a young boy for the injuries he sustained when a large kangaroo mauled him.
In Africa all sorts of wild animals from hippos and crocodiles, to monkeys and baboons, abound in the vicinity of some golf courses. However, reported attacks are rare.
Of greater danger to golfers in hot climes is the ever present threat of snakes. Local rules usually recognise this and allow golfers to drop away from a snake without penalty.
A more frightening phenomenon is the recent danger of human attack on the golf course. In some countries armed muggings on the fairways are on the increase.
A golf course is in essence a microcosm of the larger world. Some hazards of golf are unique to the game; others such as heart attacks are part of everyday outdoor living.
Despite the many hazards that are possible, golf is still a safe game and your life will be seldom at risk.