What's in a name? The owners of two courses, both called TimberStone, may soon find out

August 08, 2014

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But what about a TimberStone? That's the gist of a federal lawsuit filed recently in the Northern District of Illinois. (Hat tip to Rob Harris of for spotting the suit.)

TimberStone Golf Course at Pine Mountain (below) has been around since the late-1990s. Set in Iron Mountain, Mich., it's a popular, Jerry Matthews-designed course that carries five stars (out of a possible five) in Golf Digest's Best Places to Play reader ratings. In 2000, its sixth hole -- a 413-yard dogleg left over water -- was cited as an "honorable mention" when Golf Digest's Dan Jenkins and Ron Whitten ranked "America's Best 18 Holes."


The TimberStone Golf Course in Caldwell, Idaho, (below) is no relation. It opened

three years ago and charges a mere $39 including cart for 18 holes (vs. $100 at the other TimberStone).


Michigan's TimberStone takes exception to Idaho TimberStone's use of the name, arguing that the Idaho course -- even though it is 1,700 miles away -- could be confusing to consumers. Idaho's TimberStone contends that's unlikely and points out that its director has a local landscaping business with the same name.

Would anyone honestly think the two courses were related? Perhaps. But if the court rules in the Michigan course's favor, imagine the lawsuits that might follow. I count 12 U.S. golf courses with "Augusta" in their names. I count 20 whose names include "Pine Valley."