Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Sunset Hills Country Club says its handicap rule change was authorized by USGA rules

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 11, 2015


Sunset Hills Country Club argues that its handicap allowances established during a golf tournament were authorized by United States Golf Association (USGA) rules in a disabled man’s lawsuit alleging he was deprived of benefits after the rules were changed.

Zaki Sheikh filed his complaint on Aug. 31, claiming he is an avid golfer with a handicap. Sheikh says he joined Sunset Hills in 1972 because of its affiliation with the USGA. The plaintiff claims USGA rules allowed full handicap to be used in scoring in tournaments, resulting in unlimited play for handicapped golfers like Sheikh.

Then in the summer of 2013, Sheikh alleges he entered a tournament at the club and learned that it no longer followed USGA rules, refusing to give a full handicap in match play to a golfer with a USGA-related handicap.

Sheikh, who says he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to the country club, thereafter found it difficult to participate in tournaments, depriving him of benefits promised by membership to the club, the suit states.

He seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs of the suit.

Sunset Hills Country Club filed a motion to dismiss on Oct. 7 through attorneys W. Jason Rankin of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville and Christopher Byron of Byron Carlson Petri & Kalb in Edwardsville, arguing the complaint is insufficient in law.

The defendant says that the plaintiff is asking the court to intervene in the internal affairs of a private association and how the club administered a golf tournament. However, the defendant asserts that Illinois courts have held that private associations have “great discretion” when conducting internal affairs.

“In the instant case, Plaintiff does not, and cannot, allege that the Club’s implementation of handicapping rules for a golf tournament somehow implicates any substantial property, contract or economic right that would warrant involvement of the courts,” the motion states.

Additionally, the defendant argues that the Club’s use of the handicap allowances are authorized by the USGA rules.

The plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint on Oct. 13, in which he provided additional allegations to more clearly state his claim.

Ronald A. Roth of the Roth Law Offices in Granite City represents the plaintiff.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-1120

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