Irish Retiree Could Face $630,000 Bill After Losing Sandbagging Lawsuit

Thomas Talbot arriving at the High Court for a 2012 hearing.
Courtesy of Irish Independent

An Irish retiree who sued his golf club for accusing him of sandbagging could face legal bills of more than $630,000.

In the bizarre case reported by the Irish Times, Thomas Talbot, 76, sued the Hermitage Golf Club of Lucan, Dublin, former handicap secretary Eddie Murphy, and the Golfing Union of Ireland in 2012 for allegedly calling him a cheat.

Talbot said he was sent a certificate by the club’s handicap subcommittee stating his handicap was reduced by 7.7 shots between 1999 and 2004 to put him at a handicap of 13. That reduction affected his reputation, Talbot maintained, as did the words “handicap building," in other words, purposely playing below a golfer’s ability to gain an advantage and more generous stroke allowance, also known as "sandbagging."

Talbot lost the lawsuit when the judge found that the words “handicap building,” although defamatory, were not libelous because the certificate was not published to a third party. Talbot then said he was “forced to appeal” because he couldn’t afford what he said was a 500,000 euro (approximately $630,000) legal bill.


“I may have lost the fight, but I haven’t lost the battle,” Talbot told the Irish Independent in 2012.

But now, it seems he has. The appeal was seen by the High and Supreme Courts in Ireland over 83 days and was settled earlier this month over what the Supreme Court called a “simple matter.”

According to the Irish Times, Chief Justice Susan Denham “urged improved judicial management of cases” and better use of court resources. The court stuck with the initial ruling, stating that the general rule of “costs follow the event” -- the losing party pays the winning party -- applied to the case.

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