Can A Golf Ball Kill You? What Happens If You Hit Someone With A Golf Ball?

Golf balls are lethal, really? Can a golf ball kill you?

Death by a golf ball – not the most common accident indeed, not even on the list of rare incidents or mishaps that occur on the golf course. But then being hit by one is not completely unavoidable or impossible.

Golf balls, for sure, move very, very speedily, which amps up the combined mass of the ball. Meaning that rapid speed increases the weight of the ball. And when the golf ball is in fast motion like this and, by chance, ends up hitting someone’s head, nose, eye, etc., it certainly can cause some serious trouble.

But then has anyone been killed by a golf ball? And how common are such accidents on the golf course? Time to find out!


The Truth About ‘Can A Golf Ball Kill You?’

Loud and clear – golf balls DO NOT carry huge amounts of kinetic energy and then there’s the compression effect as well that takes place on impact. And just this much should suffice when it comes to stating the fact that a fatal accident caused by a golf ball is highly, highly unlikely, and rare.

There may be OTHER kinds of fatal incidents on the golf course but these, more often than not, don’t involve golf balls. Although just in 2018, a man in New Zealand playing golf with his buddies was struck by a ball in the face (the temple) and then died a few days later because of that particular injury.

Even so, hardly any humans actually die after being hit by a golf ball. A threat like that is very, very low. To be honest, people (including those playing golf on the course) do get struck by golf balls. I mean it happens all the time but such an everyday occurrence leading to a freakish death is almost statistically impossible.

What Needs to Be Done If You’re Hit In the Head By A Golf Ball?

Getting hit in the head with a golf ball definitely should not be taken lightly. You could get a concussion, which is most likely to temporarily disrupt your normal brain functioning. So after getting struck, if there’s any nausea, headache, dizziness, or feelings of withdrawal or confusion, please see a doctor as soon as possible and get an MRI done.

Suppose the golf ball comes in contact with your hand or any other part of the body (except for the head of course) and, at the same time, if that blow isn’t severe, you should be alright.

How to Avoid Golfing Accidents?

Golf-equipment-related injuries are very few. And even when you think you can avoid getting hurt, there’s not much you can do to achieve that.

  • Just don’t stand in front of golfers taking their shots.
  • When whoever is swinging, stand behind that person.
  • Always know who the next golfer is for hitting the shot.
  • And you, as a golfer yourself, should never swing your club when someone or a group of people is standing in front of you.

How Likely Are You to Get Struck By A Golf Ball?

The exact odds, obviously, cannot be stated because every situation/exposure is different. Meaning not every person is hit by a golf ball in the same manner and/or with the same speed or intensity.

But then if you play golf every single day or live or work on a golf course, certainly those odds of getting struck by a ball become higher. Otherwise, the chances are quite slim (less than even 1-percent).

And the same can be said for those who aren’t careful when on the course. For instance, if you just stand in front of a group of golfers hitting shots expecting them to be skilled or careful enough to shoot the ball around or over you, you’re then only welcoming unnecessary trouble.

Science Behind the Force/Speed of Golf Ball


Golf balls aren’t bullets, the former compresses when hit (and those for beginners and seniors, and long distances in general, have an even lower compression rating).

But it also depends on how much speed is generated on impact. The original, actual size of a golf ball is already small, so imagine how much smaller it can get once compression occurs. On top of that, the ball compresses a little more when it lands.

By that logic, when a golf ball hits you, it will again compress (hence your body doesn’t have to deal with the complete impact of the shot that ended up wrong). And thanks to this very compression that fatal or life-threatening accidents caused by these balls are so uncommon.


Time for some math action.

Assume that the weight of a golf ball is 0.10125 pounds. And now imagine that the speed at which it’s flying is 211 mph. In that case, the kinetic energy here is 151 foot-pounds.

And now let’s talk about Olympic boxers just for the sake of this discussion. These guys punch using force measured around 450-1050 foot-pounds. In comparison to this, the kinetic energy of golf balls is way less. It’s also less when you compare it to a bullet’s kinetic energy of 580 foot-pounds.

The science part will also take into consideration the golf ball’s capacity to deform. Unlike bullets, golf balls don’t deform all that easily. The result of which is energy generated for a very short time and distance. The opposite of this is the case with boxing gloves that, because of their larger cushioning placed outside, transfer the huge punch energy for a longer time (since padding in gloves takes longer to compress).

So now you understand why golf balls, thanks to their innate ability to compress, don’t transfer energy all that quickly. And also take into account that golf balls, when hit, travel very fast only initially. So as they’re flying and approaching to land, that max. velocity or speed has reduced drastically – much less than 211 mph.

Can Being Hit By A Golf Ball Break Your Bones?

It’s rare but it can happen. Although the golf ball has to travel really very fast for actually breaking a bone. If the ball’s just about to land and hits you then, most likely that it isn’t going to break any bone of yours because, at this point, the golf ball’s speed is much, much lower than what it was when it just began to fly.

On the other hand, if you get struck by a ball as a result of standing close to or in front of a golfer taking his/her shot, then you might get seriously injured.

Whatever the case, golf balls rarely ever hurt in a deadly way.

What Are the Most Common Injuries In Golf?

If you mean what are the most common injuries caused by playing golf, that would be neck, lower back, and wrist injuries. And these are mainly caused because of how you swing your golf clubs. Meaning if your swing mechanics are poor or wrong, then you’re just repeating those each time you play golf, thus leading to an injury eventually.

Knee pain, backache, rotator cuff injuries, and tendinitis are also quite common among those who play golf more regularly.

What Happens If A Spectator Is Hit By A Golf Ball?

Remember in 2018 when Brooks Koepka accidentally shot the golf ball right into a woman’s face, which actually resulted in that woman, one of his fans, losing her eyesight? The worst nightmare for both the woman who got hit and for the professional player!

What happened in that case? Well, the lawsuits against Koepka are still pending. Although spectators attending tournaments take on that risk wilfully. Even so, golfers should be very careful about where they’re hitting. And those watching the game, in turn, must also pay attention, so much so that they at least know when there’s a ball headed their way.

What Happens When Stray Shots Damage A Car or Break A Window?

What happens if your errant shot ends up hitting a car or breaking a window. Well, in such scenarios, you, as an honest, well-mannered golfer are responsible for covering the damage. So don’t forget or neglect to leave that sorry note also mentioning your contact details in order to pay for the damage caused by you.

There are some car insurance and home insurance policies that include golf ball damage charges. But most times, the coverage fails to encompass all the expenses. So the home or car owner has to then pay the remaining amount from his/her own pocket. Even in these kinds of unfortunate or maybe even unfair situations, you should take responsibility.

Golf Balls Are Not So Dangerous After All!

Golf is supposed to be fun, right? And hell yeah it is! But the game also requires you to be careful about your surroundings. Being well-aware on the golf course can go a long way you know – you can prevent accidentally hitting someone or being hit yourself.

The most common injuries in golf, however, have nothing to do with golf balls. These are mainly caused by golfing too much or over-swinging.

You should be physically strong enough to play an 18-hole round of golf. And when playing, scan your environment – never take a shot when someone is standing in front of you and even you mustn’t stand in front of a golfer shooting his/her ball.

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Jim Furyk

One of the PGA TOUR’s most recognizable and talented golfers, Jim Furyk was born on May 12, 1970 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. It seems like Furyk was born to play golf; his father Mike as an assistant pro at Edgmont Country club, and young Jim was raised into the game. Jim Furyk’s only golf instruction came from his father; and many note that might account for his unusual—yet effective—swing. In addition to Edgmont Country Club, Mike Furyk also served as head pro at Uniontown Country Club.

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