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Wednesday Feb 06, 2013

Estate resident sues golf course owners as balls fly into his property

A man living on a golf estate in Vanderbijlpark has had enough of being pelted by stray golf balls - even while he is in his living room - and blames this on the 14th hole, which is barely 10 metres from his premises.

Eric Schoeman turned to the Pretoria High Court to interdict the owners of the Emfuleni Golf Course, located on the Emfuleni Golf Estate, from allowing anyone to play golf on the 14th hole unless the green is relocated to a position not closer than 40m from his premises.

The golf course is situated more or less in the middle of the estate and houses surround the course.

Schoeman has told the court that the living area in his home fronts the golf course. There is a large patio on the outside with sliding doors leading to the living room.

When the sliding doors are open, the patio and the living room become one living area where he and his wife spend most of their time and entertain visitors.

Their property is situated close to the 14th hole, which includes the tee from where the players play their first shot, the fairway along which they progress towards the green, and the green itself. Schoeman said the fact that the 14th hole is about 10m from his property gives rise to a highly dangerous situation in that players play their shots towards his house.

Many players, he said, play their shots too long, with the result that the house and adjacent living area are often hit by golf balls. He said that apart from causing damage to property, these balls may cause serious injury or even death if a person was hit by one.

Schoeman said that before he took steps to alleviate the situation somewhat, the house was hit by about 100 balls a month.

Some of the balls hit the patio, some the porch, others the outside of the house, while some went right into the house.

These sometimes damaged the furniture or pictures on the walls, or struck the floor and bounced against the ceiling.

Schoeman said that when he bought the property, the developer and then owner of the golf course assured him that the 14th green would be relocated to a safe distance. Believing these verbal assurances, he bought the property.

After they moved in about seven years ago, they asked why the hole was not being moved, and were told it would be relocated soon.

The golf course was, however, sold to somebody else and the new owner did not relocate the 14th hole. Schoeman meanwhile, in a bid to alleviate the problem temporarily, replaced the sand bunker with grass and built a pond between the green and his house.

He said while this helped, his house was "still regularly hit inside and outside by fast travelling golf balls".

A technical dispute, meanwhile, arose during the hearing of the case.

The new owner of the golf course, SY Kim, said the verbal agreement given to Schoeman that the 14th hole would be relocated was not mentioned in the sale agreement in which he entered into when he bought the course.

He said that in terms of the constitution of the Emfuleni Estate Home Owners Association, this dispute should have been referred to arbitration, rather than taken to court.

Schoeman, on the other hand, is disputing this.

Judge Natvarlal Ranchod ordered that the parties must, at a later stage, present oral evidence before court on these issues, as it cannot be determined merely on documents before court.

The Star


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