Golf Dispute Resolution

Here at Turfhugger we like to bring to your attention other blogs that deal with the crossroads of golf course management, the environment and sustainability. One of these intersections that I rarely touch on myself is the legal aspect of allocation of resources, land disputes, environmental infractions, etc. Which is why it's a good time to introduce Turfhugger readers to Bob Harris and his insightful and amusing blog Golf Dispute Resolution

Rob Harris is an attorney who advises golf-related and other business clients on contractual matters and ways to minimize litigation risks. Rob’s practice includes issues pertaining to the rights and obligations that exist between owners, principals, contractors, suppliers and employees of privately held businesses. When disputes arise, Rob represents clients in litigation, arbitration and mediation proceedings. Rob also serves as an arbitrator and mediator of contractual, construction, employment and financing disputes.

Rob doesn't give legal advise through his blog, instead he reviews quirky disputes with a connection to golf. Some posts that I think Turfhuggers would like include:
With Robs permission I've included here his post entitled "OK, I’ll Bite…Tell Me What Happenedfrom September 13th, 2011.


Occasionally, I have an opportunity to inform you about misfortune befalling wildlife at the hands of golfers. Today’s post brings you such news from upstate New York’s Fox Valley Club, an ironic name indeed, given the most recent animal story posted here. But I digress…

Imagine you find yourself in a tournament foursome with 69 year old Bob X, a club member. You are in the middle of the fairway assessing your upcoming approach shot, when you notice that Bob is over by the pond with what appears to be a sand wedge raised high. Since Bob is farthest from the hole, you wait for him to hit. He swings powerfully, once, twice. You come closer, just in time to see Bob lift by the tail the 22 pound snapping turtle he’s been pummelling, and swing the hapless creature against the side of the golf cart until dead.

You respond as follows (pick one):

  • You ignore what happened, feeling honoured to be observing a secret club ritual.
  • You assess Bob with a two stroke penalty for grounding his club in a hazard.
  • When you see Bob loading the turtle meat into his trunk following the round, you call the cops.
If you guessed (3), you’re a winner. Fast forward…. The police arrived. The story is related. They are befuddled. With what, if anything, can they charge Bob? After all, the New York legislature has ordained a hunting season on snapping turtles that runs from July 15 to September 30. Unfortunately for Bob, however, he had no hunting license. And, while state law permits turtles to be killed with firearm or bow, a golf club is not a permitted weapon. So, confronted with an airtight case, Bob pleaded guilty to both charges and paid a fine. The turtle meat was taken from his freezer and was suspended from the club for thirty days.

Commenting on the event, a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Conservation noted that the turtle’s death was “unusual and unfortunate” and “not something we see commonly.” I’ll bet.

Except for a bit of poetic license—we don’t know the specific play-by-play, or who ratted out Bob or why—this is the story as reported in the Buffalo News, and as related in this video from WIVB news.

You can access Rob’s professional profile here and the Golf Dispute Resolution blog here.