The Employment Relations Authority has declined to make an
interim reinstatement of Andrew Hobbs, a course
superintendent at the St Clair Golf Club, after he was
summarily dismissed last December.
In a recently released determination, authority member Helen
Doyle said the application for interim reinstatement had been
declined and costs were reserved until the final
A further hearing on the employment case is likely to be held
in early May.
Ms Anderson noted that Mr Hobbs had been employed as course
superintendent at the St Clair Golf Club from 2003 until
December 17, 2013, when he had been dismissed for ''serious
Mr Hobbs said his dismissal was unjustified and he had made
an application for interim reinstatement.
Interim and permanent reinstatement were opposed by the club
which said it had ''carried out a fair and reasonable
disciplinary process'' into allegations of serious
And the club had said the dismissal was substantively
Mr Hobbs yesterday said he could not comment substantively
until the main hearing involving his application for
reinstatement was heard by the authority in early May.
Mr Hobbs is a former Otago golf representative player who
late last year also played for Otago in the Freyberg Masters.
He had always sought to serve the golf club, and, as a
greenkeeper, had ''poured his heart and soul'' into his work
for it over the years, he said.
Last year, he had paid his own way to the Pinehurst golf
resort in the United States and attended several turf
management-related seminars, with a view to benefiting the
His dismissal had been highly stressful for himself and his
family, he added. Stephen Brocklebank, who chairs the club's
board of management, noted yesterday that the authority's
determination involved only the application for interim
reinstatement, and declined to comment at this stage.
The authority determination noted that on November 21 last
year, Mr Hobbs was given a letter from Mr Brocklebank,
stating the board had become aware of two ''serious
On at least three occasions in October last year, Mr Hobbs
had asked a club employee to work during the club's normal
working hours at properties outside the club's property, the
The letter also alleged Mr Hobbs had ''instructed the
employee to falsify his timesheet'', with the result that
some or all of this time working outside the property was
paid for by the club.
The letter also said that on October 29 last year, according
to a commercial supply firm's packing slip, 10 bags of
fertiliser had been delivered to the club, and the slip
appeared to have been ticked off as correct by Mr Hobbs, for
the amount of $899 plus GST.
There was no evidence of the fertiliser at the club, but a
new fertiliser spreader was in the workshop.
The board had heard that Mr Hobbs had asked the supply firm's
salesman to invoice the spreader as fertiliser because the
board would not approve the spreader, as it was capital
This instruction had been ''questionable'', and ''a perfectly
acceptable spreader'' was already at the club, the letter
As well as working at the club, Mr Hobbs also had a separate
turf contracting business which had been known about by the
The board letter advised that a later disciplinary meeting
would be held and that summary dismissal could occur, if
explanations were not considered satisfactory.
Mr Hobbs subsequently explained he had earlier raised with
the club employee the possibility of extra work after-hours
with him, working as a landscaper.
He had offered this work to the employee on three occasions
late in the day, about 3.30pm.
Mr Hobbs denied any dishonesty, and said he had been
experiencing stress at the time, which had resulted in him
''failing to pick up the inaccuracy'' in the employee's
Mr Hobbs had also said the spreader the club had owned was
the oldest one in town, and the purchase process method was
''the same'' as for other capital equipment.
What he had done over the spreader had been a ''dumb
mistake'' but was also not dishonest.
Ms Doyle said there was no suggestion Mr Hobbs was not
competent at his role and was ''clearly held in high regard
by many club members''.