ST. LOUIS — U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh granted summary judgment to the developer of the Gary Player Golf Course at Big Cedar Lodge in a lawsuit filed by a sod farm.

In a ruling filed Feb. 26, Limbaugh sided with Medalist Golf Inc. over the claims brought by Chris Williams, doing business as Cane Creek Sod, in a dispute that arose two years ago in which Medalist ultimately rejected about 21 acres of Meyer Zoysia sod.

"The undisputed facts show that plaintiff made a bid and defendant told plaintiff not to sell the sod to anyone else, but defendant also told plaintiff that the Project owner had to approve of the quality of the sod," Limbaugh wrote. "There was no firm commitment to buy anything."

According to background in the ruling, Medalist's project manager Todd Tilton told Cane Creek's farmhand Mark Woodard that the sod was for use on a high-end golf course "for a very important client."

The golf course in Ridgedale is owned by Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist.

While Cane Creek submitted a bid for the sod project, Tilton stated that the golf course owner's director of agronomy would likely want to inspect the fields before going forward with a purchase agreement. The ruling states that Cane Creek acknowledged that its potential client had the right to inspect and reject the sod for quality reasons. 

After Big Cedar's project superintendent viewed the sod and sent feedback and photos to its director of agronomy, they both concluded that the sod did not meet the quality standards required of the project. Medalist then rejected Cane Creek's Meyer Zoysia.

"Plaintiff cannot show detrimental reliance," Limbaugh wrote. "The sod had been planted more than 15 years earlier. Plaintiff did not harvest the sod. Other than one small sale of sod to a country club, plaintiff did not identify a sale or opportunity to sell any of his 65 acres of Meyer Zoysia.

 "The doctrine of promissory estoppel is to be applied 'with caution, sparingly and only in extreme cases to avoid unjust results.' For the foregoing reasons, this case does not qualify for application of promissory estoppel, and summary judgment will be granted to defendant."

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