ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Interpretation: Is it a "hole in one" if you use a mulligan?

Iowa_flag A promising potential casebook classic has been thwarted by a settlement.  Iowa jurors were deliberating what counts as a "hole-in-one" for purposes of a nonprofit organization's promise to pay $10,000 for a hole-in-one at a charity golf tournament, when the claimant and the defendants settled for an undisclosed amount.  A good summary of the background is here.

High school student Adam Fisher was playing in a local Future Farmers of America charity golf tournament.  Organizers promised $10,000 to anyone who made a hole-in-one at the tournament.  They also offered to sell "unlimited mulligans" -- a "mulligan" is the chance to do a shot over again without a penalty -- to participants.  After Fisher's first tee shot on a 196-yard par-3 fifth hole hole went bad, he used a mulligan, and his next tee shot went into the hole.

The FFA refused to pay the $10,000, chiefly because the insurance carrier whose policy was to pay the prize had specifically forbidden mulligans and thus would not have to pay the prize.  An Iowa trial judge ruled that evidence of the insurance policy limitation could not be introduced at the trial, on the grounds that Fisher's claim was a contractual one against the FFA.

[Frank Snyder -- hat tip to Debbie Zalesne (CUNY)]

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