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Northern Ireland golf course in court battle over wayward balls

By Alan Erwin

Published 27/10/2016

Golfers putting on the third hole at Balmoral Golf Club in south Belfast
Golfers putting on the third hole at Balmoral Golf Club in south Belfast
The hole which residents have been complaining about

A golf club which once included former Open Championship winner Fred Daly among its members is resisting a legal bid to have one of its holes altered.

Fold Housing Association has issued High Court proceedings against Balmoral Golf Club over balls being sliced into properties built along its boundary in south Belfast.

The association is seeking an injunction to have the par 4 third hole changed and shortened.

It claims that balls hit from the current tee position are a source of continuing nuisance to residents on the adjoining Finnis Drive.

But lawyers for Balmoral are defending the legal action, arguing that it is an unreasonable interference with its right of use.

Following opening submissions, Mr Justice Horner adjourned yesterday’s hearing so he could personally visit and inspect the course.

The case centres on concerns about balls going out of bounds and into neighbouring property where 15 social houses were built two years ago.

Amendments have been made to the third hole, including extra fencing and signs.

Although it was acknowledged in court that the number of incidents has reduced, counsel for the housing association claimed there was still a problem.

Keith Gamble cited 17 reported incidents between May and July this year. They included balls hitting fences and being discovered in gardens.

“On the face of it the figures all point to a reduction, but we say this is an ongoing, continuing nuisance,” he said.

Founded in 1914, Balmoral Golf Club claims an association with four former Ryder Cup players: Fred Daly, David Feherty, Eddie Polland and Norman Drew.

Daly, who served as club professional, famously became the first Irishman to become Open Champion following his triumph at Royal Liverpool in 1947.

Some current club representatives and residents were in court for the start of proceedings. They heard Mr Justice Horner question whether the alleged nuisance is substantial or unreasonable.

Mr Gamble insisted: “One must look at the risk of harm, whether it’s unreasonable to allow golf balls to enter these properties.”

He contended that the golf club’s existence before the houses were built does not amount to a defence.

At that stage the judge adjourned the hearing, saying: “Maybe now is an opportunity to go and look at this particular hole.”

Belfast Telegraph

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