Golfing dispute finally settled

CLOSURE PENDING: Brookfields Park Golf Club owners Don and Kim Finlayson.
CLOSURE PENDING: Brookfields Park Golf Club owners Don and Kim Finlayson.

Brookfields Park Golf Course will close in March and sell its land to a neighbouring organic farm, after a lengthy legal stoush was settled.

The move, confirmed yesterday, has left Manawatu golfers with no public nine-hole course.

A decision by Palmerston North District Court judge Nevin Dawson had effectively ordered the Te Matai Rd course to shut on November 30, but Brookfields owners, Don and Kim Finlayson were to appeal against the decision and ask to stay open while that was decided.

A court hearing was scheduled to take place yesterday afternoon but was averted after last-minute negotiations.

Brookfields' neighbour, the Organic Farm Company, which supplies Biofarm Products, is owned by James and Catherine Tait-Jamieson.

The judge found that golf activities were causing a nuisance, which included 20,000 golf balls being hit over the fence since 2002, affecting the farm's organic rating.

The farm had also collected hundreds of bottles, cans and other rubbish on its property as well as having golfers "urinate and defecate" there, Judge Dawson said.

Both sides issued a joint statement in the name of Brookfields' lawyer Phillip Drummond and the farm's lawyer Hugh Rennie.

"It has now been agreed – and approved by the District Court – that the date the injunction will now become effective is March 31, 2012," the statement read.

Brookfields would stay open until then and "measures would be taken ... to minimise the effect of its business on neighbouring farmland".

The farm would then buy the land and agree not to use it as a golf course. "This reflects the District Court's finding that it was not suitable for this purpose."

Mrs Tait-Jamieson would not comment yesterday, and the Finlaysons could not be contacted.

Mr Drummond said he was unable to say what the purchase price would be, but confirmed legal action against the course's previous owners, Paul and Barbara Stuckey, would continue.

It is alleged they did not tell the Finlaysons about the farm's concerns when the course was sold in 2001. The farm filed its complaint with the courts in 2003.

News of the closure left club captain Bruce Lord, of Palmerston North, with mixed feelings.

"I'm sad and I'm happy. I'm happy for Don and Kim – that they got a result – I'm sorry for the members."

Mr Lord, a member of Brookfields for seven years, was yet to decide where he would play after the closure.

Palmerston North building company director Shane Walker was "p..... off" at the closure.

"It's terrible."

He plays at Brookfields two or three times a week, but was also a member at Palmerston Golf Club.

As a left hander, he said he didn't hit many golf balls into the farm.

Manawatu/Whanganui Golf executive officer Dave Townend was disappointed with the closure, saying it limited people's options if they wanted to play on a nine-hole or short course.

"It's the sort of course that anybody could go and play on."

Brookfields, which opened in 1976, has about 140 members. The Tait-Jamiesons began sharemilking on their farm in 1977 and farming organically in 1979.

Manawatu Standard