Golf lovers in San Diego know that a hole-in-one is an event to be celebrated. Unfortunately, the for-charity 2015 Greenbrier PGA Classic showed that it’s best to read the fine print before getting too excited. Its apparent oversight led to insurance litigation over bad faith claims, ultimately leaving the tournament’s charitable partners in the rough.
To raise interest in the charity tournament, those partners promised that all attendees would receive $100 if any player got a hole-in-one on the course’s 18th hole. Furthermore, if another player got a hole-in-one on that same hole, that day’s attendees would receive an additional $500. It was a highly unusual occurrence, but one regarding which officials believed they had properly insured the charity.
However, as is the case with commercial general liability coverage, the devil was in the details. The policy seemed to require that the insured 18th hole be at least 170 yards long, with the application itself specifying 150 yards. The Greenbrier 18th hole was 137 yards long, meeting neither requirement, and the charity’s claim was quickly denied.
The rejection was appealed, and an appeal of that decision claiming negligence, breach of contract, and fraud was also denied, presumably on the basis of the charity not heeding the requirements of the policy regarding payoffs. It seems that a lack of awareness of the terms of the insurance agreement did not relieve the tournament’s charity partners of their legal responsibility to adhere to those terms.Errors and omission insurance might be recommended in situations like the 2015 Greenbrier PGA Classic hole-in-one payoff. In fact, an attorney qualified in insurance law would likely help make all stipulations of a policy known to clients before the first golfer takes a swing.