The golfing community of Palmerston North believes other courses throughout New Zealand may come under threat after its last public golf course was ordered to close to protect the organic rating of a neighbouring farm.
The owners of the Organic Farm Company and BioFarm Products, James and Catherine Tait-Jamieson, took legal action against Brookfields Park Golf Club in 2002.
Mr Tait-Jamieson says since he filed court proceedings, 20,000 golf balls have been picked up from the 30 hectares of his property near the golf course.
"All inputs to an organic farm must be approved, and golf balls are not an approved input. The effect was that we couldn't make hay or silage in the paddocks surrounding the golf course."
He says he is relieved that the farm's future organic rating will now be safe.
Mr Tait-Jamieson says they ran the farm with no silage in reserve which they were not comfortable with because the property is both drought-prone and subject to flooding risk.
In addition to the problem of golf balls, he says, bottles and rubbish were also left in paddocks and golfers have gone onto the farm property to urinate.
Palmerston North District Court has given the golf club until 30 November to close.
The club's owner, Don Finlayson, says he is devastated by the decision, but is not commenting further until the matter is completely out of the courts.
Manawatu and Whanganui Golf executive officer David Townend says the court ruling is unprecedented and may spark other companies to take legal action against the country's golf courses.