Bar News - April 18, 2008
Book Review The Little Green Book of Golf Law:
The Real Rules of the Game of Golf By John H. Minan
By: A book review by John W. Vorder Bruegge
According to a recent Associated Press story, P.G.A. professional John Henry Isenhour IIIís "one-in-a-million" golf shot that killed a protected hawk last December could be one costly birdie. Isenhour, charged with animal cruelty and killing a migratory bird, faces 14 months in jail and $1,500.00 in fines. The ill-fated shot, aimed at scaring the noisy hawk away during the filming of an instructional video at the Grand Cypress Resort, landed Isenhour a hearing at the Orange County Circuit Court in Orlando, Fla. last month. The Little Green Book of Golf Law: The Real Rules of the Game of Golf by John H. Minan.
Little Green Book is University of San Diego Law School Professor John Minanís one-of-a-kind pairing of two of his passions Ė golf and law. Minan combines analysis of golf-related litigation with a practical look at some of the rules that govern the game of golf to provide informative and occasionally amusing insights for any attorney/golfer. Little Green Book presents the reader with its share of challenges, along with its sometimes subtle rewards. Though it is nineteen chapters in length, Little Green Book maxes out at a forward-tee length of just 154 pages. The chapters in Little Green Book can be enjoyed one at a time as stand alone golf-gone-to-court stories, making it an ideal book to fit into a busy schedule.
Isenhourís shot-making prowess may one day make the cut of a revised edition of
The bookís 19 chapters are laid out quite deliberately - one chapter for each hole in the usual round of golf, plus the 19th hole. Each chapter is structured around a profile of a golf-related court case, which Minan then outlines with a rule from the game of golf Ė a rule that, ostensibly, relates to the preceding case profile. Minanís strength off the tee lies in turning dry legalese into enlightening and sometimes entertaining case profiles. On occasion, though, he is handicapped by a wooden sense of humor and/or the difficulty of selecting a comparable rule from golf to juxtapose with the case profile.Little Green Book includes its share of reachable par threes and short par fours, but it also has a couple of long, dry par fives. The 19 holes that comprise the book provide a variety of golfís trials, tribulations and legal entanglements. Chapters range from 19th Hole Drunken Assault to Golf and the Internal Revenue Service, with case profiles that cover complex legal issues, such as unfair competition and service mark infringement. Minan does justice to what may be the most famous litigation in the history of U.S. golf, P.G.A. Tour, Inc. v. Martin, where the Supreme Court ruled that allowing Casey Martin to use a cart would not fundamentally change the nature of the competition or give Martin an unfair advantage.
Like any well-designed golf course,
As much as he loves golf, Professor Minan rarely permits the golfer within to forget the legal lesson. Fortunately, the same could be said of his sense of humor, which can most generously be described as corny. Quite exceptional then is his nod to Caddyshack, which he deems a "film classic" on Hole Five. As Minan explains in the preface, each chapter heading identifies the official citation to the case "for those who might like to find out more." The Hole Five heading reads: "New Jersey: Maussner v. Atlantic City Country Club, Inc., 691 A.2d 826 (N.J. 1997) Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord: A Golferís Prayer."
Arguably, Hole Five shows the law professor/golfer at his best. Minan briefly recounts the scene from Caddyshack where the bishop plays a round of golf in a thunderstorm, with groundskeeper Carl Spengler (Bill Murray) as caddy. In a torrential downpour, the bishop asks Carl whether he should stop playing and give up the chance to record his lowest score ever, to which Carl replies: "Iíd keep playing; I donít think the heavy stuff is going to come down for quite awhile." As fans know, in short order, lightning ends the bishopís record-setting effort.
Maussner also concerns a lightning strike, but I donít want to spoil the ending, other than to note that the case discusses an "act of God." Rule 6-8.a (ii) of the Rules of Golf, cited at the conclusion of Hole Five, permits a competitor to "unilaterally decide to discontinue play when there is a danger from lightning."
There is little danger, however, that any attorney who loves golf will not enjoy The Little Green Book of Golf Law: The Real Rules of the Game of Golf.
John W. Vorder Bruegge has worked as an Assistant Cheshire County Attorney in Keene since 2005. A caddy in his teens, he has spent 40-odd years at golf, but he would not claim to be a "golfer." No foursome would be complete without his two brothers and his father, Carl.