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America's Cup skipper Brad Butterworth may have a fair way to go before gaining entry to the exclusive Auckland Golf Club.
He has twice withdrawn his membership application, the second time last year, amid suggestions he faced strong opposition from some of its 1580 members.
One member, Harry Julian, said tensions went back to when Brad Butterworth and Russell Coutts switched allegiance from Team New Zealand to Swiss multi-millionaire Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi syndicate in 2000.
Butterworth was skipper when Alinghi won the 31st America's Cup against Black Magic in Auckland in 2003.
"There has been opposition from a small number of members" said Julian, a former president of the New Zealand Yachting Federation,
"As far as I'm concerned they [Russell Coutts and Butterworth] didn't let New Zealand down but there is strong opposition.
"I'm very much in favour and offered my name to support him. I'm upset that there's been this opposition. I think it's unfair."
Would-be members have to join a waiting list before their membership goes before club officials. They must be nominated and seconded by separate members and gain the support of several others before their application goes before the committee.
Julian said club officials did not oppose Butterworth's application but he was aware of some members being teed off he was trying to break in to the private club.
Butterworth first approached the club several years ago but withdrew his nomination due to commitments in Switzerland.
He had another opportunity last year and had been moved and seconded with support from about six other members.
"He withdrew his nomination again but when it comes up again I certainly would be one of his many admirers, and supporters and friends who would want him in there," said Julian.
He did not know how much of an influence the disapproving members had on Butterworth's decision to withdraw.
"It's just so wrong for a young man like this to be opposed by, I would have thought, responsible people.
"They let their provincial feelings get in the way."
Julian wanted to take up the matter with the club's golf committee but Butterworth could not spare the time because of his commitments overseas.
It is understood Rich Lister Gary Paykel was among the unhappy members. "I don't deny anything," Paykel said.
"All I'm saying is, I don't make comment about my private life, nor the Auckland Golf Club. My private life is my private life."
Auckland Golf Club general manager Tessa Jennings would not comment on Butterworth's applications or how the membership process works.
"The Auckland Golf Club makes no comment about membership, or anything relevant to members."
A source close to Butterworth, who did not want to be named, said the situation was "crap" and likened it to political game-playing on the golf course.
Butterworth was overseas and could not be contacted by the Herald on Sunday last night.
The Auckland Golf Club has moved location three times since it was founded in 1894.
Its first home was the Auckland Domain before it moved to farmland in Greenlane in the 1890s and then to One Tree Hill.
It has been based beside Middlemore Hospital at Otahuhu since 1910.
The club has played host to the Bonallack Trophy in 2006, New Zealand Golf Opens and New Zealand Amateurs Golf tournaments.