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I have discovered that there is no shortage of interesting, sometimes humorous and occasionally outright quirky legal disputes that have a golf connection. Please enjoy

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By way of background, I am an attorney who serves as general counsel to a financial services company.  I also frequently serve as a mediator and arbitrator. And, of course,  I enjoy golf, most often at the Yale Golf Course. You can learn more about my experience here.

Now, for the required disclaimer, so I can remain in the good graces of the legal ethics powers-that-be:  This website, which may constitute Attorney Advertising in some jurisdictions, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Best,

Rob Harris
rharris@golfdisputeresolution.com
914-482-2448

 

 

By: Rob Harris

From Denver, comes this story about a recent, unpleasant (at least for one) interaction at the city’s Wellshire Golf Course:

“Prosecutors have filed a second-degree assault charge against a man accused of using a golf cart to run down and strike a fellow golfer at a Denver course.

“Richard Ponds, 57, is accused in the April 3 hit-and-run at Wellshire Golf Course.

“The alleged victim told police he got into a verbal argument with Ponds because Ponds was sitting in a cart in the middle of the course despite being done golfing, according to an arrest warrant.

“The victim told police Ponds then drove the cart ‘full speed’ at him. When he realized Ponds was not going to stop, the victim said he tried to dive out of the way but was too late. The affidavit says Ponds then kept on driving toward the course’s parking lot.”

Perhaps it’s time to implement a “walking only” policy.

 

By: Rob Harris

Anyone who ever had an interest in taking a look at a contract between a municipality and a third party manager of the public course can do so here. This contract, and a more recent amendment, are central to a class action complaint brought against the Town of Smithtown, New York and Michael Hebron, who for many years has managed the Smithtown Landing Municipal Golf Course.

Conjuring an image of an angry horde of golfers each seeking to recover from Caesar and his representative, the complaint alleges that Mr. Hebron is liable for “breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentations, unjust enrichment, monies had and received, breach of a fiduciary duty, [and] breach of an implied warranty of good faith and fair dealing… resulting from his standard practice of charging Plaintiff and Class Plaintiffs for golf and cart rental services at rates in excess of the rates authorized and agreed upon by Hebron and Smithtown at the Smithtown Landing Municipal Golf Course…”

As for the Town, the complaint asserts that “Smithtown permitted and/or failed to prevent the Plaintiffs from being charged at rates in excess of the rates authorized and agreed upon by Defendants for the use of the Golf Course and for cart rentals.”

Additional coverage of this recently filed lawsuit can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

By: Rob Harris

Malaysia’s largest chemical plant has been closed due to an ongoing labor strike. The plant creates chemicals necessary to the manufacture of Surlyn.  And…..unless and until Titleist resurrects balata golf balls, Surlyn is what keeps our golf bags stocked with ammunition for misplaced ponds and interfering leaves.

As reported:

“A shortage of the products used to produce Surlyn could have a devastating effect on the game of golf by leading to a shortage of golf balls.

“’It’s a very scary thought – lots of golfers, but not enough golf balls,’ said Dr. Wyatt Ahwl, a scientist with DuPonte, which creates the product.

“As Dr. Ahwl explained, a number of the chemicals used in the creation of the artificial Surlyn are in short supply due to the closure of the largest chemical plant in Malaysia because of a massive strike. The workers are asking for better working conditions and a rise in wages.

“While most of the game’s biggest manufacturers said the short term needs can be met, if the strike extends beyond the end of April, there will be difficulty in keeping pro shops and golf stores supplied.

“’I’d say we can last through the spring, and depending on where you are in the country, maybe early summer,’” said one manufacturer asking for anonymity. “’But right now, we’re not making anything. Our factories are at a dead stop.’”

 

 

By: Rob Harris

Escalante Golf purchased San Diego’s Crosby National Golf Club in 2009 when it was in the midst of a “financial death spiral.” Within three years, Escalante reportedly turned things around through “aggressive expense management and event sales.”

In 2012, however, governance of the homeowners association of the adjacent gated community changed. The new HOA board found the events hosted by the club–which included concerts, weddings, fashion shows, political fundraisers and corporate receptions–to be “distasteful and a nuisance.” The reconstituted board of directors caused the HOA to file suit against the club, claiming that “attendees of the events caused traffic jams getting into and out of the community, they parked on private streets and the community became ‘inundated with hundreds of members of the general public who wander throughout The Crosby.’”

On March 31, a federal judge sided with the HOA, finding that the zoning laws did not permit the private club to hold public events.

The club contends it needs the events to remain financially stable, but the residents offer a contrary view, contending “that the club will attract new members if it operates strictly as a private club, which will in turn boost its bottom line.”


By: Rob Harris

Englishman John Topham thought he’d support his countryman Danny Willett by betting on him to win the Masters. The odds certainly were favorable at 100:1.

So, when Willett took home the green (jacket), Topham thought he would be taking home the green.

However, his betting shop denied him, claiming that, in fact, Topham had bet on Willett to win the U.S. Open, not the Masters.

Topham, of course, is adamant that he bet on the Masters. (After all, who would bypass betting on the Masters in favor of a tournament two months away.). Nonetheless, the betting parlor is equally assertive that its betting app did not make a mistake and Topham is guilty of user error.

Now, of course, the British oddsmakers are not about to give 100:1 odds on Willett’s chances to win at Oakmont. The latest line is 28:1. So, maybe there’s an opportunity for Topham to make a few dollars (sorry, pounds) after all.Perhaps someone will buy is 100:1 U.S. Open bet at a premium to what the oddsmakers are offering.

Oh, one last thing. The amount of Topham’s bet on Willett? One pound. Patriotism only goes so far.

Here’s an article from Bunkered Golf Magazine discussing legal sagas involving known professionals.

By: Rob Harris

From the United Kingdom comes this item, as reported by the Stoke Sentinel:

A WOMAN has told how a motorist smashed his way into her home with a golf club after a road-rage dispute descended into violence.

Yasmin Ahmed feared for her safety when the golf club-wielding yob burst into her own home while her young children were asleep upstairs.

The trouble erupted after the driver complained about husband Ghafoor’s van blocking their Tunstall street.

Dozens of people ran out into the street as a man smashed the family’s front window and door with the club.

Now police have arrested two men in connection with the incident on Tuesday night.


By: Rob Harris

Jerome “Lefty” Kleis, the mayor of Becker, Minnesota, has sued the city and the members of the city council, accusing them of violating his right to freedom of speech.

According to the SC Times, the city council in February

voted to censure Kleis for what they said were harassing interactions with city staff that violate the city’s code of conduct. The censure resolution directed Kleis not to contact city employees without a council member present, to submit data requests in writing and raise employment concerns to the personnel committee rather than in a public meeting.

Some attribute the friction to golf, noting that the mayor “has taken a strong stance on the city-owned Pebble Creek Golf Club,” while “members of the council … feel he has been too strident.”

The mayor’s lawsuit alleges “that numerous times since 2013, Kleis spoke about, asked questions and requested an investigation of the operation of the city’s golf course — actions the complaint states amounted to free speech and were part of his mayoral duties.”

Long live the First Amendment.

By: Rob Harris

Denver faces a problem. It needs a place to divert flood waters in the event of heavy rains.

Two options emerged. One would require the city to take up to 55 homes. The second alternative involves using 25-35 acres on the City Park Golf Course as a water detention area.

Yep, you guessed it. Golf suffers again.

As reported by the local ABC network affiliate:

The city was considering two low points identified by its engineers, including the golf course and a three-block area in the historic Cole neighborhood. An original proposal would’ve taken up to 55 homes in the Cole Neighborhood but the city has since moved away from that idea.

Since City Park Golf Course has been approved for the flood control project, here are three proposals currently being weighed. Two of them including demolishing and relocating the clubhouse. According to the city, 25-35 acres would be used for detention.

  • Option 1 would take out 153 of the 872 trees located on golf course property. It would cause the least disruption to the golf course.
  • Option 2 is more extensive and would take out 280 trees.
  • Option 3 would remove 246 trees.

Fortunately, golf has its defenders, including those in (formerly) high places. Again, as reported by ABC,

“I’m more than concerned, I’m really upset,” said former Colorado Attorney General JD MacFarlane. “The city in my opinion is trying to grab some property for another purpose that was never intended.”

MacFarlane now plans to fight the project in court. His attorney already sent a notice to Denver’s City Attorney.

“Why did I want to do that, because I thought what the city is doing is wrong,” he said.

So, perhaps golf will prevail, and the up-to-55-homeowners can start building an ark.

 

 

By: Rob Harris

South Portland, Maine’s city council is closing in on the adoption of an ordinance imposing a citywide ban on synthetic pesticides.  Well, almost a citywide ban.

City golf courses, private and public, will be granted a reprieve until May 1, 2019. As noted by the city’s “sustainability coordinator,”

“The city faces challenges in attracting golfers to our municipal course. …

“There are currently few, if any, examples of golf courses that are being managed successfully without some synthetic pesticide use . . . and none for small municipal courses… Golf course playing surfaces are entirely different from lawns, parks and turf. The game of golf requires specific management practices to maintain adequate playing surfaces.”

At least one resident was less than enthusiastic:

“Are we going to have 100 new cops driving around to see who’s putting down the wrong chemicals on their lawns? This is insane…

“And you want another lawsuit? If you are going to enforce this on the private landowners, you absolutely have to do this at the golf course. But you like lawsuits.”

 

 

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