DRIVING INTO A HAZARD: Motorists, beware of errant shots from urban golf courses

Poor, poor Osgood's car. That is it featured in the photo taken minutes after his back window was shattered by an errant golf ball that sailed off the Jackson Park Golf Course on the South Side as he was driving north on South Cornell Avenue. The impact startled Osgood and sent glass spilling across the back seat and into the fur of his fine dog Bao, who had been peacefully napping there."I thought at first it might have been a rock someone threw at the car, and then I saw the golf ball. Bao was traumatized for a few minutes," said Osgood, describing how he had pulled off to the side of the road to inspect the damage and, naturally, take photos. "It's just one of the hazards of urban life," he said with his usual aplomb. His was not the first car window to have been shattered by a golf ball, and it surely won't be the last. One particularly dangerous place for cars is near the ninth tee at the Sidney Marovitz Golf Course in Lincoln Park (ever Waveland to those of us of a certain age), one of the six courses operated by the Chicago Park District. One recent afternoon there, I watched three of 18 tee shots make their way off the course, though none did any damage to cars or people. The employees at area golf courses are, understandably, reluctant to discuss on the record the matter of golf ball damage. They really have little to fear. "As a general rule, the Chicago Park District, or any other park district, would not be legally liable if an errant shot flies off its golf course and hits a car window," says Jim Wascher, an attorney with Friedman Photo for the Tribune by Charles Osgood