Greenkeeper sues golf club for £150K after ‘lawnmower swinging accident’


A GREENKEEPER is suing one of the world’s oldest golf clubs for £150,000, claiming he was badly hurt after being told to cut the grass by swinging a Flymo on a rope.

Derek Bond alleges he had to cut grass on a steep slope at Peterhead Golf Club by swinging the 23kg (51lb) mower from side to side using a rope attached to the handle.

The 24-year-old says he fell down the slope and injured his leg so badly he needed hospital treatment and considerable time off work.

The Aberdeenshire links course – which dates back to 1841 and bills itself as the 18th oldest club in the world – denies it is at fault and claims Mr Bond did not report the incident for months.The accident is said to have happened on a steep, mossy slope next to the tenth hole – known locally as “the Jenny’s” – on August 19, 2009.Papers lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh reveal that Mr Bond is claiming £150,000 compensation plus expenses from the club.

Lawyers for Mr Bond claim in the papers: “He was instructed by the head greenkeeper, Hugh McLatchie, to cut the grass to a height of two inches on a steep slope at the side of the green at the tenth hole of the course.

“The pursuer was instructed by Mr McLatchie to cut grass by using a Flymo lawnmower, swinging the lawnmower across the slope by using a rope that had been attached to its handle,” state the lawyers.

“The rope attached to the lawnmower was too short to allow [him] to cut all of the grass on the slope whilst standing safely at the top.

“He descended a distance of about one-third of the slope in order to cut the grass at the bottom.”




He stood with his right foot “perpendicular” to the slope and swung the lawnmower with his arms, hips and shoulders, the papers say.

Mr Bond’s lawyers continue: “The momentum and exertion of swinging the lawnmower by the rope whilst standing at an angle on the steep slope caused the pursuer to overbalance.

“His left foot slipped on the wet grass and moss, he twisted his right knee in seeking to regain his balance and then fell forwards downhill.”

The lawyers say the lawnmower was being used inappropriately and claim greenkeepers were regularly told to carry out the “inherently unsafe operation” of cutting grass by swinging the lawnmower.

And he was given boots one size too small for him, “further lessening his ability to maintain a grip on the ground,” they allege.

Although there is no suggestion Mr Bond was hurt by the mower itself, his lawyers claim the “dead man’s handle” safety device was prevented from working by the rope.




It is claimed Mr Bond kept on working at the course, despite being in “significant pain”, because he did not want to let down his employers.

But he was off work from late 2009 onwards, and experienced constant pain and spasms in his right knee due to ligament damage.

In October 2010 he needed surgery to repair the damage, his lawyers say.

Lawyers for the golf club claim the amount of damages is excessive and point out that Mr Bond carried out a “physical role” at the club until November 20.

They allege: “[Mr Bond] initially reported the accident as having occurred on 26 August, 2009.

“[He] was absent from work on annual leave on that date.

“[Mr Bond] did not report the incident to any employee or office holder of the defenders until December 2009.”



They say he only went absent from work on 20 November 2009 and did not say he was doing so because of an injury.

Mr Bond now works as a self-employed landscape architect.

Gordon McBean from Thorntons Solicitors, who are representing Mr Bond, confirmed: “Litigation is ongoing in the Court of Session.

“We hope to achieve a fair settlement to compensate Mr Bond for his injuries and resultant losses through ongoing dialogue with solicitors appointed by Peterhead GC’s insurers.”

A spokeswoman for Peterhead Golf Club said they would not be commenting on the court case.