Foul on fairway? Membership for life is cut short

When Anne Lynas bought her lifetime membership at Beaver Creek Links Golf in 1990, she envisioned spending her retirement years happily golfing the 18-hole course in Oakland Township.

But that dream took a dogleg, and today Lynas and more than 230 fellow golfers are suing, saying that two years ago, after the golf course was sold, new owners began refusing to honor the memberships.

Lynas, 73, of Rochester Hills became particularly incensed when the new owners called the cops on her in June 2006, when she refused to leave the course — a move that prompted her to start the lawsuit now headed for trial this summer in Oakland County Circuit Court.

“I was so angry at first that I wanted to take a strap and beat them up and down Main Street,” said Lynas, a retired actress and real estate agent.

“This deputy shows up and says, ‘Get off the course, lady, you’re trespassing,’ and I said I’ve got a lifetime membership and the last time I checked, I’m still alive,” she recalled in an interview last week.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot ruled in December that the golfers could consolidate their claims into a class action. A trial is tentatively set for July.

The golf course on Stoney Creek Road began selling lifetime memberships in the early 1990s for $3,000 to $5,000.

The contract includes a provision that golfers would be guaranteed 25 years of free golf if the course were sold.

Beaver Creek Golf Links Inc. then sold the course to GTR Oakland Properties in 2004.

The lifetime golfers continued to hit the links, but in 2006, the new management called an end to their free play with a clubhouse posting: “Effective Immediately, we will no longer honor Beaver Creek Memberships.”

That’s when Lynas had her run-in with the law.

Lynas’ access “was taken from her in a mean and insulting way,” said Robert Zawideh, an attorney with the Birmingham firm of Norman Yatooma, representing Lynas and the other golfers.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages above the $25,000 circuit court minimum that will help replace their lost golf and ensure them play at a different course.

“It’s going to have to be the replacement value for what they’ve lost,” Zawideh said.

Bryan Monaghan, the attorney representing Beaver Creek Golf Links, said the corporation honored the memberships while it owned the course, and sold it to the new owners with the understanding that the memberships were part of the deal.

“The new owners agreed to assume that responsibility,” he said.

Since the Beaver Creek Golf Links corporation no longer exists, he said, he hopes to have it dismissed from the suit, which also names GTR Oakland Properties and all affiliate corporations.

GTR Oakland Properties attorneys did not return calls, but in court filings said that the lifetime members are being allowed to play while the memberships remain in dispute.

Not good enough, said Lynas.

“I’ve got too many bad memories to ever play there again,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to give up golf.”

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