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Friday Jun 27, 2014

Blair Athol Golfing Estate residents win court appeal over access

Fuming residents of the upmarket Blair Athol Golfing Estate, who were barred from playing golf on this world-class Gary Player-designed golf course as they had not paid their property levies to their homeowners' association, urgently turned to the North Gauteng High Court.

This 'golfing application', as it was referred to by Judge Neil Tuchten, is part of an ongoing battle between the residents on one hand and the Blair Athol Home Owners Association and property developer Robby Wray on the other.

The estate - home to the rich - houses a gated community north of Lanseria Airport, but falls within the municipality of Tshwane.

About nine residents who are also members of the golf club on the estate brought the application. They are also part of a complex dispute about the management of the estate which will at a later stage serve before the court.

Judge Tuchten was told that the applicants (the residents who turned to court) had withheld payment of their levies to the homeowners' association, which the latter said was due. The residents, among others, claim levies have been improperly inflated.

The future of the golf estate also forms part of the main application, to be determined later.

They have, however, meanwhile paid their golf club dues and now insist on swinging their clubs on the R125 million golf course.

The issue before court was whether a member of the golf club who had not paid his or her levies to the homeowners' association might be prevented from playing golf there. The residents argued their golfing levies had nothing to do with the homeowners' association, while the latter felt that if they could pay their golfing levies, they could fork out for their home levies.

In court papers Wray described himself as an avid golfer whose dream was to build a world-class golf course on the estate. His powers of control over the estate had brought him and his associates into bitter dispute with certain residents.

In the latest saga, the director at the golf club told the residents there was a link between the homeowners' association and the golf club. It was said that 'good standing' with the association was a prerequisite for good standing with the golf club. This meant being up to date with the payment of property levies.

Judge Tuchten commented that on the surface this was a dispute about the right to play golf. 'The combatants are all rich, financially sophisticated people...'

The judge added that golf was not merely a pastime for many of the members, but a sophisticated marketing tool. 'Frustrating these golfers' desire to display their wealth and power by inviting their acquaintances to play on this course strikes at their patrimonies and their sense of self-worth. Frustrating Wray in his desire to become a significant figure in the world of golf has the same effect.'

Judge Tuchten made it clear that he was only required to make an interim finding.

In the meantime, he ordered that the homeowners' association had to immediately reinstate the full membership rights of the applicants regarding the golf course. He also interdicted the respondents from barring the applicants from playing on this course.

Pretoria News


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