• Wrongful Death & Drowning
  • Serious Injury
  • Errant Ball Shot
  • Golf Cart Accident & Rollover
  • Slip and Fall
  • Golf Course Design & Planning
  • Golf Course Safety
  • Construction Analysis
  • Irrigation Damage
  • Premises Liability
  • Nets & Barriers
  • Property Damage


  • Accident Investigation
  • Forensic Studies
  • Expert Testimony
  • Depositions
  • Consultations
  • Reports
  • Site Surveys
  • Graphic Exhibits & Presentation
  • Replacement Cost Estimates
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Mitigation Recommendations

Golf Course Architecture

Architect MICHAEL S. JOHNSTONE, AIA, is an expert witness and forensic investigator in golf course design and safety. He has been retained for cases at many of the top golf destinations in the United States, including PGA and LPGA Championship courses. Many of the firm’s clients represent leading golf course management companies like American Golf, Marriott Resorts, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Billy Casper Golf, Salamander Golf Collection, and New York City Parks and Recreation. Our professionalism also brings cases from major insurers like Zurich, Travelers and Philadelphia Indemnity, and even referral by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

Recent cases as expert witness include wrongful death, errant ball injuries, golf cart rollover, cart path defects, blind holes, hidden hazards, animal bite, wildfire, property damage, and injury of spectators or volunteers at golf tournaments. Over 245 cases and investigations have been completed in 34 states (Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin), Washington DC and Canada.

As an expert witness and forensic investigator, Michael clarifies issues and resolves conflicts in complex matters of design and safety, applying over 40 years of design and construction management experience and a unique specialization to golf. Since 1990, he has had a professional association with forensic architects and engineers in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also published two peer reviewed papers on golf safety and accidents for the National Association of Forensic Engineers. Michael’s expertise includes accident and safety investigations for golf courses, country clubs, clubhouses, driving ranges, learning centers, neighboring properties and parking lots.

Michael S. Johnstone AIA is dedicated to identifying and resolving golf course design and safety issues. We serve plaintiffs and defendants equally through independent and objective analysis derived from decades of study in architecture, design principles and golf industry standards.

Except for environmental and zoning issues, design and planning of golf courses are not subject to state or federal building codes. Players and other guests rarely understand these facts until accidents, injury or even death occur. Therefore, a broad range of interpretation is left open to non-experts and those with vested interest in the outcome of cases. This leaves golf course owners, managers and insurers in wide disagreement over safety issues and the foreseeability of risk. Our firm offers independent and objective architectural review using professional standards focused on accident prevention and dispute resolution.