A golfer has filed a class-action lawsuit against golf pro Michael Hebron and the town of Smithtown over allegations that Hebron overcharged fees for players to use the town golf course and to rent carts.
Robert Dwyer of Smithtown filed the lawsuit on April 14 on behalf of “at minimum hundreds” of unnamed golfers who have used the town facilities at Smithtown Landing Golf and Country Club, according to the court filings.
In the suit, Dwyer said that as director of the golf club, Hebron “has systematically charged plaintiffs at rates in excess of the rates authorized and agreed upon by defendants for the use of the golf course and for cart rentals.”
Hebron was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 2013 and is considered a leading and innovative golf instructor, according to his website. He has taught at the Smithtown golf course since 2000 as an independent contractor, court filings show.
“He’s very well respected in the industry,” said Hebron’s lawyer, Howard Greenberg of Smithtown. “We’re going to categorially deny all the allegations. We’ll address these issues with the plaintiff and counsel in the courthouse.”
The Smithtown town attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
Dwyer realized he was being overcharged when he obtained a copy of Hebron’s contract with the town, which includes fee schedules for course access and cart rentals, said his lawyer, Michael Schulman of Melville, though the full amount of excess fees is still unclear.
“We don’t know the actual amount because it’s a class action lawsuit,” Schulman said. “Thousands of hours and thousands of golfers were involved. Everyone was overcharged a couple of bucks at a minimum.”
The suit seeks to “recover all previous payments made in excess of the rates authorized and agreed upon,” legal fees, and an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, according to the filing.
The town of Smithtown is also named in the lawsuit because of Dwyer’s belief that “Smithtown permitted and/or failed to prevent the plaintiffs from being charged” at higher rates.
According to his contract with the town, in exchange for running the golf course and financially investing in the facilities and equipment, Hebron is allowed to keep all proceeds from greens fees and fees from the golf range, rental of golf carts and golf lessons.
The current rates for using the golf course range from as low as $11 for a senior citizen who is a town resident to play a par 3 course on a weekday, to as much as $40.50 for guests of the golf club to play 18 holes on weekends and holidays. The golf cart rental rates ranged from $3.75 for 9 holes with a manual cart to $32 for a power cart for 18 holes.