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Golfer (75) sues for €10m after handicap lowered


Thomas Talbot

Thomas Talbot

Thomas Talbot

A 75-year-old pensioner at the centre of a €10m lawsuit against his former golf club -- which he claims damaged his reputation by lowering his handicap -- plans to share his windfall with his extended family if successful.

Thomas Talbot, a retired insurance official, claims his reputation was damaged after Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan, Co Dublin reduced his handicap by 7.7 shots between 1999 and 2004, and wants €10m in damages.

He is suing both the club and Eddie Murphy, its former handicap secretary, in the High Court for defamation.

Mr Talbot, who is representing himself in court, alleges a cumulative reduction of his handicap by 7.7 shots between 1999 and 2004 was tantamount to being branded a cheat.

"I have four grown-up kids -- Nicola, Colin, Alison, Frances. For personal reasons I don't know whether they're living in Dublin or abroad. I miss them terribly," he told the Irish Independent last night.

Mr Talbot describes the personal toll the past six years has taken on him.

"This case has been going on for the past six years. It has been hugely stressful. I didn't care so much about the handicap issue, it is more the principle of it.

"I'd turn up for a competition and there would be nobody to play with. I have learned the hard way that friends are a funny species -- they're never there when you want them.

"I'm generally a shy person until I get the bit between my teeth and then I come out of my box.

"My handicap is currently 21. I handed in my notice last month that I was leaving Hermitage. I went up Portmarnock Golf Links on Saturday and joined as a five-day member," he added.

The club says that under GUI Rule 19 it had to reduce his handicap if it believed it was too high relative to his ability.

The club and Mr Murphy deny the claims. The 21-day trial ended on Thursday after submissions by Mr Talbot, with a ruling expected within two weeks.

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