In the lawsuit, Bob Lobel, who anchored evening sportscasts for WBZ-TV for 30 years, contends that Woodland GC in Auburndale, Mass. has wrongly denied his right to use a specialized golf cart. Woodland GM David Garfinkel said there are no restrictions for anyone using those types of carts, except on greens.
Bob Lobel, a former sports anchor for WBZ-TV in Boston, is suing the Woodland Golf Club in Auburndale, Mass. for discrimination, The Boston Globe reported. The suit alleges that the club is wrongly denying Lobel the right to use a specialized golf cart for the disabled, especially on the club’s putting greens.
In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, Lobel asserts the club is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the state’s public accommodation law, the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, and the state’s Equal Rights Act, the Globe reported.
“As a direct and proximate result of Woodland’s unlawful discrimination, plaintiff has sustained injuries and damages including [loss of] the right to socialize with longtime friends, feelings of isolation and depression,’’ Lobel asserted in the lawsuit.
Lobel, a longtime sports personality at WBZ-TV whose contract was bought out in 2008, notes in the lawsuit that he had a “single-digit handicap’’ before he became disabled, the Globe reported. The cause of his disability is not explained in the court papers, the Globe noted.
Lobel, who is being represented by prominent Boston attorney Jeffrey Denner, was expected to meet reporters at the Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy, Mass. on November 11 to discuss the issue, the Globe reported.
According to the lawsuit, Lobel was a frequent guest at Woodland GC before he became disabled, but since 2014 he has been told that he cannot use golf carts that are specially designed for use by the disabled, including paraplegics, the Globe reported
But David Garfinkel, Woodland GC’s General Manager, said in a telephone interview with the Globe that the club has permitted Lobel, and others, to use an adaptive cart everywhere on its course except for the greens.
“There is no problem with having them [adaptive carts] on the course,” Garfinkel told the Globe. “We’ve accommodated Mr. Lobel’s request to have access to the golf course. Mr. Lobel has access to our tees, to our fairways, to our roughs, to our approaches. No one has access to our greens in carts.’’
Woodland conducted its own test using an adaptive cart on the green, Garfinkel explained, and concluded the putting greens would be damaged if they are driven on them by anyone. “It’s just that with certain surfaces we witnessed mechanical damage to the golf course,’’ he told the Globe. “Whether it was the age of our green or the golf cart, it caused significant impression and wear on the putting surface during the test.’’
Repairing the greens would be an added cost to Woodland’s members, Garfinkel added. “We’re concerned about an unreasonable burden to our members that would be caused by damage from the carts,’’ he told the Globe.
Lobel’s lawsuit contends that the adaptive golf carts, such as the SoloRider and ParaGolfer, are allowed on other golf courses around the country, the Globe reported. The vehicles have a seat that can swivel out so golfers can be supported while they swing. The suit says the carts also allow the golfer to be driven onto any spot on the course without damaging it.
“The carts are designed and constructed to distribute weight evenly upon the golf course to eliminate damage to the course, and enable the golfer to drive onto tee boxes, greens and bunkers without causing damage beyond that of a non-disabled golfer using the course,’’ according to Lobel’s lawsuit.
According to Lobel, known for his local charity work and his colorful catchphrases on the air, Woodland GC has told him through e-mails and other forms of correspondence that it will not permit adaptive golf carts onto its course if the golfer expects to drive them onto the bunkers—and especially not if they plan to drive onto the putting greens, the Globe reported.
“We would not allow it on our greens,’’ a Woodland official wrote in one piece of correspondence cited in the suit.
Lobel is asking the court to order Woodland to change its policy, to award him $250,000 in compensatory damages, and to pay for his attorneys’ fees, the Globe reported.