Jack Nicklaus battling with residents at the Bear’s Club he founded in Florida

Earlier this year, residents of the exclusive Bear’s Club community, built by golf great Jack Nicklaus, overwhelmingly approved a measure pitched as giving homeowners more control over their Jupiter community.

The move came after two years of litigation between the club and two Bear’s Club residents who said the Jupiter, Florida, golf club had too much power over the ritzy residential community.

In May, 88% percent of residents voted for the new amendments, which reduced the club’s voting majority to 32% from 51%, among other measures. The changes, according to legal documents, were made to address concerns raised by some residents about club control of the homeowners association.

“While disputes can always arise in any community, these issues have had a public impact on us, which in turn affects our property values here at the Bear’s Club,” three association board members wrote homeowners earlier this year.

But the May vote by homeowners did nothing to mollify Bear’s Club resident Gary Sellers. Since 2019, he has been locked in litigation with the Bear’s Club and various Nicklaus affiliates over control of the homeowners association.

In August, Sellers sued the Bear’s Club Property Owners’ Association and its five board members, including Nicklaus’ son Gary Nicklaus, alleging the just-passed amendments still deprive homeowners of control.

The litigation provides a window into the world of elite golf country clubs.

The Bear’s Club, east of Interstate 95 and just north of Donald Ross Road, is a 400-acre community featuring about 80 homes, villas and cottages, situated around The Bear’s Club golf course and clubhouse. There is an 18-hole golf course and a 40,000-square-foot clubhouse.

At the Bear’s Club, membership costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and homes sell for millions of dollars. Residents include luminaries from the sports world, including NBA great Michael Jordan and pro golfer Rory McIlroy.

But for all their money, some residents fear challenging Nicklaus, the project’s developer and leader of the golf club, court records say.

“There are people who are afraid of being kicked out of the club,” said Joel Kenwood, an attorney for Sellers. “The board members are appointed by the club, and the club controls the board.”

At issue: Does Nicklaus, as developer, still control the homeowners association via his alleged alter ego, the golf club?

And can residents ever complain about it, risking their access to the club?

The Bear’s Club golf club is owned by 35 founding members and led by Nicklaus. When the Bear’s Club residential community was created by Nicklaus 20 years ago, the golf club maintained majority control of the residential association. This was done, Nicklaus told residents in a 2018 letter, so the club would always have control, and the community

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By: Alexandra Clough
Title: Jack Nicklaus battling with residents at the Bear's Club he founded in Florida
Sourced From: golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/09/14/jack-nicklaus-jupiter-florida-bears-club-battle/
Published Date: Mon, 14 Sep 2020 13:42:16 +0000

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