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Disabled Golfer Sues Private Club for Discrimination


GolfSpy Barbajo
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I grew up watching this guy deliver the sports news on TV back in Boston.  He's back in the news again.

 

What do you think of this lawsuit? He acknowledges he can play lots of other courses, but the story is about discrimination.  Is it discrimination? 

 

Bob Lobel Sues Newton Golf Course For Discrimination November 11, 2015 7:08 PM

BOSTON (CBSicon1.png) – For former WBZ-TV sports anchor Bob Lobel, golf is everything. But nowadays, he can only play using a specialized golf cart.

 

“It's just been such a big part of my life,” Lobel says.

 

Lobel uses the Solo cart at numerous golficon1.png courses but, but Woodland Golf Club in Newton will not allow it. They say it hurts the greens, but Lobel says they're wrong.

 

lobel11.jpg?w=630&h=354

Former WBZ sports anchor Bob Lobel (WBZ-TV)

“It's lighter than mowers,” he says. “I've been using this cart for six years at Granite Links.”

 

So now, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Lobel is suing the club.

 

“It is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and it is also covered by a variety of state and federal civil rights acts and equal accommodation and equal access acts,” attorneyicon1.png Jeffrey Denner says.

 

The club issued a statement saying, “The golf carticon1.png caused significant impressions and tears on the greens…. Damage to our greens represents an unreasonable burden to hundreds of members.”

 

Lobel says the problem is much deeper.

 

“This came from, I'm convinced, a lack of understanding,” Lobel says. “Then it went to a willingness to not understand.”

 

Lobel says this is not about the greens or the fairways or the bunkers, he says this is all about access for somebody with a disability.

 

What's in the bag:
 
Driver:  Sub 70 639D - 9.5; :cleveland-small: Launcher HB Turbo; :mizuno-small: ST 190 
FW Wood: :tour-edge: Tour Edge EXS 220 - 15*; :mizuno-small: ST 180 14*
Hybrids:  PXG 0311 22
Utility Irons: :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model Utilities 18, 21, 24*;  Lynx VT Stinger - 16*
Irons::wilson_staff_small: D7 Forged; :benhogan-small:PTx Pro, :macgregor-small: VIP 1025 V-Foil MB/CB; :wilson_staff_small: Progressives (circa 1993)

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CBX -2, :benhogan-small:Riviera 52-56-60; :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model
Putter:   :edel-golf-1:  Willamette,  :bettinardi-small: BB8,  :benhogan-small:Baby Ben

Ball: :bridgestone-small: Tour B X (2020); :srixon-small: Z-STAR XV

Stat Tracker/GPS Watch: :ShotScope:


 
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Here's the video

 

 

 

What's in the bag:
 
Driver:  Sub 70 639D - 9.5; :cleveland-small: Launcher HB Turbo; :mizuno-small: ST 190 
FW Wood: :tour-edge: Tour Edge EXS 220 - 15*; :mizuno-small: ST 180 14*
Hybrids:  PXG 0311 22
Utility Irons: :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model Utilities 18, 21, 24*;  Lynx VT Stinger - 16*
Irons::wilson_staff_small: D7 Forged; :benhogan-small:PTx Pro, :macgregor-small: VIP 1025 V-Foil MB/CB; :wilson_staff_small: Progressives (circa 1993)

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CBX -2, :benhogan-small:Riviera 52-56-60; :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model
Putter:   :edel-golf-1:  Willamette,  :bettinardi-small: BB8,  :benhogan-small:Baby Ben

Ball: :bridgestone-small: Tour B X (2020); :srixon-small: Z-STAR XV

Stat Tracker/GPS Watch: :ShotScope:


 
Follow @golfspybarbajo

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You have no idea how close to my heart this story is.  We pretend to want to allow equal access for folks with disabilities - the reality is that we don't.

 

Frankly I'm exhausted by it.

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Taylor Made Sim2  10.5 (Opened 1 click) Ventus Blue 5  R flex

Ping G410 5-9 wood  Alta 65 R flex

Wilson D7 forged 6-GW -  Mamiya recoil 460 R flex

Edison Wedges 54 and 59 KBS Tour Graphite 80's

EVNRoll ER 5

Titleist Pro VIx optic yellow with revkev stamped on them

Tour Exotics 3 wood is in the bag because we are allowed 14 clubs.  It's a great club for pulling balls out of the water or from bushes - you never want to put your hand into anything in Florida unless you are absolutely certain that it's safe.  There are rare wind conditions when I might hit it off the tee on a few holes that I play.  

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I do not mean to be insensitive to people with disabilities but there is not enough information available from that video to make a good judgement call on this forum as to who is right.  

 

Golf courses; be them public, semi-private, private; are praised or criticized first by the condition of their greens.  If the greens have issues...everyone for miles around will know.

 

What we do not have available to us is visual proof or expert opinion of the impact of the cart on the greens in question.  I have played golf all over the world and greens are different. Not just different from one state to another but different one club next door to another.  In the South where we mainly have bermuda or hybrid bermuda greens...doubt this man's cart would be an issue.  You can walk on someone's line and as long as you are not dragging your feet...no one will really notice.  Just no indentations.  Now, you do that farther north, especially where greens are bentgrass, footprints are left and can be seen easily.  You must be careful walking around on the greens.  I also tend to find those greens to be much softer.  Again, need more visible or expert opinion proof.  

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I don't know how he was treated in person by the course but I think this simply boils down to if the greens are damaged or not. Simple as that for this specific situation. 

Driver - Tour Edge Exotics XCG 7 Beta w/ Paderson shaft 44"

Fairway Metal - :nike-small: Vapor Fly 15* w/ Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue 65F 43"

Irons - :taylormade-small: SLDR 4i-pw w/ KBS Tour C-Taper 90S

Wedges - :edel-golf-1: 54* and 58* Digger grind

Putter - :scotty-cameron-1: 2015 GoLo 3 33"

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I'm with Rick here. There isn't enough information to really make an informed decision one way or another. I believe that everyone should have the right to play golf whether disabled or otherwise. However I also believe that if the course is being damaged to do so then it isn't fair for any other members/players. This is a very tricky situation where I believe we would actually need to see the results of the cart driven on the course and greens under different circumstances and conditions. 

Driver- Tmag 2017 M2 tour issue 8.5* actual loft 7.8* w/ Diamana Ahina 80X 44"
Fairway Metal- Tour Edge Exotics XCG7 Beta 3W 13* w/ Matrix 7m4 X 42.5"

Utility- Mizuno MPH5 1 iron w/ Aldila RIP 85X (depending on course/ conditions)

Irons- Mizuno MP-18 FLI HI 3i and 4i w/ KBS C-taper lite X
          Mizuno MP59 5i and 6I w/ PX 6.5

          Mizuno MP69 7i-PW w/ PX 6.5

Wedges- Scratch 8620 Driver/Slider set.  50*, 56* bent to 55* w/ rifle spinner shafts

                and Titleist Vokey 60* M grind

Putter- Never Compromise Dinero Mogul
Ball- Bridgestone Tour B XS

Bag- Ogio Aquatech Cart Bag

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Life isn't fair. They say it damages their course. The right of refusal to service any customer is that of a business's that should be protected. If he agrees to sign a contract with the stipulation he pays for any and all damages caused by his cart and reimburse the members pursuant to that damage, then by all means. But if this course is private, he doesn't have a case anyway.

In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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The club issued a statement saying, “The golf carticon1.png caused significant impressions and tears on the greens…. Damage to our greens represents an unreasonable burden to hundreds of members.”

 

Well if that's true then I don't see why it should be allowed. He can't demand that he be allowed to 'cause significant impressions and tears on the greens.' That's not fair to everyone else, especially the course owners who have every right to protect their property and their business's competitiveness.

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I'm with Rick here. There isn't enough information to really make an informed decision one way or another. I believe that everyone should have the right to play golf whether disabled or otherwise. However I also believe that if the course is being damaged to do so then it isn't fair for any other members/players. This is a very tricky situation where I believe we would actually need to see the results of the cart driven on the course and greens under different circumstances and conditions. 

Agree.  I've played on Tiff-Eagle bermuda greens in Florida that could probably survive a tank driving on them and on much softer bent and poa annua greens out west here where you wouldn't want someone rolling a push card over them much less a driveable one.

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Here's the rub gents - whether you like it or not there are laws that protect the disabled against discrimination - it really shouldn't come to this - there should have been some way for the club to accommodate a disabled member without an ensuing lawsuit.

 

I would agree that we don't have the full body of evidence but if this guy were a member and the club allowed him membership knowing about the conditions of his disability they will have trouble if ever it comes to court.  

Taylor Made Sim2  10.5 (Opened 1 click) Ventus Blue 5  R flex

Ping G410 5-9 wood  Alta 65 R flex

Wilson D7 forged 6-GW -  Mamiya recoil 460 R flex

Edison Wedges 54 and 59 KBS Tour Graphite 80's

EVNRoll ER 5

Titleist Pro VIx optic yellow with revkev stamped on them

Tour Exotics 3 wood is in the bag because we are allowed 14 clubs.  It's a great club for pulling balls out of the water or from bushes - you never want to put your hand into anything in Florida unless you are absolutely certain that it's safe.  There are rare wind conditions when I might hit it off the tee on a few holes that I play.  

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Mr. Lobel is not a member of the Woodland Golf Club.  He played the course at the invitation of a member before he was disabled.  Even though Woodland is a private club, it regularly hosts special events including charity golf tournaments that are open to the public.  That makes the club publicly accessible during those events.  

 

Not only is Mr. Lobel suing for use of the golf course using the special cart, he is also suing to require Woodland GC to provide those special carts during play.  So, how many of those special disability carts does a typical public golf club need provide to not get sued?  How many does your club have?

 

I suspect that Woodland will lose the suit unless it can demonstrate that use of the cart on the greens will damage to the greens significantly above the damage caused by the typical golfer resulting in a undue burden on the club and its members.

We don’t stop playing the game because we get old; we get old because we stop playing the game.”

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It's kind of hard not to sound harsh and uncaring, which I'm not but, I can understand the golf course's argument. If it tears up the greens and leaves impressions, I really don't see how they should be made to let him drive a cart on them.

 

Rev, in what way could they accommodate him without letting him drive a cart on the greens? I'm sympathetic to his plight but, I can't support what he wants to do if it means other players have to deal with the consequences of torn up greens and the expense to the golf course to repair them every time he plays.

 

This is a slippery slope because of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This will be interesting to follow.

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While he may prevail in court I don't think its a slam dunk.  The ADA has provisions to protect businesses from incurring undue costs to comply.  A couple of questions and answers from the ADA.gov site  (http://www.ada.gov/q&aeng02.htm) from the Public Accommodation section

 

Q. Must alternative steps be taken without regard to cost?

A.
 No, only readily achievable alternative steps must be undertaken.

 

Q. What does the term "readily achievable" mean?

A. It means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."

 

So, if the club can demonstrate that his cart damages the greens and then show the cost to make all 18 greens so they are not damaged they may get a judge to agree that it is not "readily achievable".  At any rate there does appear to be some wiggle room in the act for the club to make an argument against.

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I don't have a dog in this fight other than I do believe that private clubs should be allowed to make their own rules regardless of my personal beliefs.  Garden City near me has a men's club and it would not be somewhere personally that I would even consider joining for a lot of reasons.  I would feel a lot different on the issue if it were a public course, but if it is private and he is not a member then I tend to agree with the club.  I do feel for the guy in that he loves the game and has found a way that with his condition he can still enjoy playing it.

In the Bag for 2021

:callaway-small: Epic Max LS 10.5* AD TP 6x

:callaway-small: Rogue SZ 15* AD TP 7x

:callaway-small: Rogue SZ 18* AD MT 7x

:callaway-small: X Forged UT 24* MMT 105TX

:callaway-small: Apex Pro 5 - AW Steelfiber 115x

:callaway-small: PM Grind 2.0 54* $ 58* KBS $ Taper 120 Black

:ping-small: B90

 

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It sounds as if the club has conducted some type of test if they say that it damages the greens.  If they haven't and are just speculating, they should and they should do it under all types of conditions.  For example, compare foot traffic to that of the cart on wet greens where the damage might be more significant.

 

He is requesting a trial by jury, obviously in an attempt to solicit juror sympathy.  If the club loses, then I could see them eliminating all public events at the club which would be a shame for the charities that they support.

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We don’t stop playing the game because we get old; we get old because we stop playing the game.”

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Discrimination by a PRIVATE club? Really? Go play all the other courses that you're allowed to play. Grow up and move on. I'm sick of this lawsuit happy society we live in.

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Driver -  :taylormade-small: M1 9.5* w/ Aldila Rogue Silver 70X

Fairway -   :taylormade-small: M1 5W 19* w/ Aldila Rogue Silver 70X

Hybrids -   :ping-small: G25 4H 23*

Irons -  :mizuno-small: JPX 850 Forged 4-PW w/ Nippon N.S. Pro 1150S

Wedges - :mizuno-small: S5 50*07, 54*12, 58*12 w/ Nippon N.S. Pro 1150S

Putter - Oddyssey Metal-X #7 w/ SuperStroke Pistol GT 2.0

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Discrimination by a PRIVATE club? Really? Go play all the other courses that you're allowed to play. Grow up and move on. I'm sick of this lawsuit happy society we live in.

You should come to NY and see the gems that come across my desk and I am only the CFO not counsel.

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In the Bag for 2021

:callaway-small: Epic Max LS 10.5* AD TP 6x

:callaway-small: Rogue SZ 15* AD TP 7x

:callaway-small: Rogue SZ 18* AD MT 7x

:callaway-small: X Forged UT 24* MMT 105TX

:callaway-small: Apex Pro 5 - AW Steelfiber 115x

:callaway-small: PM Grind 2.0 54* $ 58* KBS $ Taper 120 Black

:ping-small: B90

 

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I stand behind the ADA, but I believe it includes the stipulation concerning reasonable cost to accommodate. The club must show what the cost to accommodate would be.

Driver: PXG 0211 w/Evenflo Riptide CB Regular shaft 

Fairways:  Cobra King F8 3-4W(16*) & 5-6W(20*) w/Mitsubishi ck Blue regular shaft 

Hybrid: Cobra F8 3 Hybrid(19*) w/Recoil ES regular shaft 

Irons: Wilson D7 5-PW w/Recoil 460 Regular graphite shafts 

Wedges: Cleveland RTX Zipcore(50*/54*/58*) w/True Temper Spinner Wedge steel shaft  

Putter: 33" Evnroll ER2 w/Evnroll Gravity Grip 

Bag: Vice cart bag(Black).  

Pushcart:  Caddytek 3.0 from Costco

Ball: Maxfli Tour CG & Titleist Pro V1x.

 

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Hey if you can't get your way in America... Sue. To get your way. The story admits he plays many other course where he is allowed. Why can't he just accept that and move on? I'm sick of it quite frankly.

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My Sun Mountain bag currently includes:   TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png 771CSI 5i - PW and TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png PFC Micro Tour-c 52°, 56°, 60 wedges

                                                                               :755178188_TourEdge: EXS 10.5*, TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png 929-HS FW4 16.5* 

                                                                                :edel-golf-1: Willimette w/GolfPride Contour

 

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So when the greens become damaged and they lose members, which will happen with the damage to the greens, is he going to pick up the tab? Sorry, but I still say it's a private course, ADA or not, they don't have to allow anyone in that they don't want to. That's the reason for having a private club. If this goes through and he wins, there will be lawsuits against Augusta National, Pine Valley, etc. They're private as well. I'm sympathetic to those with disabilities but being disabled does not give one the right to invade a private club. They lose, they should put up a for sale sign immediately. Because the loss of members will be catastrophic to the bottom line. They should go ahead and implement a preferred tee time policy now and set it up for selection by tenure. All the prime slots will be gone and he'll be playing on sun baked fairways and greens that'll be at their hardest of the day. That would mitigate the damage the most. I would also implement strict pace of play times now.

In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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