Ignacio Rojas didn’t waste any time using the new Pembroke Road bridge over I-75.
He drove on the new Broward County road extension the day it opened.
While driving, he heard a loud noise.
“After that I realized that I had a big hole right next to the mirror,” Rojas said. “It was a golf ball that hit the car.”
He says the ball came from the Grand Palm Resort next to the overpass. So, he went to the club’s management and was surprised at what he was told.
“The golf club had no responsibility on the damages because they were there first,” he recalled. He was told the city of Pembroke Pines built the road.
When he contacted the city he was also turned away.
“They tell me that unfortunately there’s nothing they can do,” Rojas said. “It’s a private property. It’s not their responsibility. So, I need to deal with the golf course.”
Feeling like he was being bounced around, he contacted NBC 6 Responds.
“What should I do?” he asked. “Should I stop the car in the middle of the road, jump the fence, trespass into private property and deal with the golfer which I’m not sure who hit it so that’s completely realistic.”
Grand Palms General Manager Richard Marjama sent a statement to NBC 6 that read, “While it is indeed unfortunate that a passing motorist’s vehicle was hit by a golfer’s errant golf ball, Grand Palms takes no responsibility for the golfer’s actions or the resulting damage to persons or property off the golf course.”
When reporter Myriam Masihy went to the area she found a golf ball that had been hit across both lanes of traffic on Pembroke Road and landed on the curb opposite the golf course. She also saw golfers fishing balls that landed outside the short fence that borders the course.
Because Broward County helped pay for the overpass, NBC 6 Responds went to County Mayor Barbara Sharief. She quickly refuted the claim that the golf course was there before the road.
“They were there before the overpass came in but the road was already slated for future expansion prior to them ever opening that golf course up,” Sharief said.
After our call, Sharief said the county looked into erecting a fence along the road.
“But the problem is that you can’t use county money on private property,” she said.
Under Florida law, golf courses are not responsible for what happens outside their property, according to attorney Devin Tison with Reinfeld, Cabrera and Tison.
But he says once a golf course or municipality knows that a hazardous condition exists, they cannot ignore it.
“They can’t escape liability if they created the dangerous conditions,” Tison said. “Nothing will come of it until someone is actually hurt. The second that someone gets hit and hurt with a golf ball, you’ll see real change.”
Rojas never got his side-view mirror repaired but says his biggest concern is the safety of the roadway. He’s chosen not to use the road as a shortcut again.