Our Mystery Golfer
I’ve been finding stray golf balls on Dry Creek Hill lately. I’ve found 4 during the last several months, and their condition tells me they haven’t been there very long. Two were in spots I walk or mow over often, and 2 others were in the trees I look into every time I start my car or pull back into the carport. Golf balls can’t be in those places for very long before I see them.
We’ve been up here about 18 years and I’ve never found golf balls before. This is a new mystery to solve. But the geography and the widely-spaced houses up here suggest where the balls are coming from. A new trailer parked on the property behind us about the same time the balls started appearing, so a new golfer may be visiting the neighbors.
On the other hand, golf is experiencing a COVID-19 related boom because it is one of the few activities people feel safe doing, so it could be unrelated to the new trailer. Someone behind us may have just dusted off their old clubs and felt the need to practice. Either way, there just aren’t many likely properties for the balls to be coming from.
The only real question I have is how those 2 balls ended up so close together. My best guess is that a combination of the terrain and the path they followed as they rattled down through the trees made it likely they would collect there. I can easily imagine working on my pitch shots, blading a few, and seeing the balls rocket into those trees at about the same spot.
I’m not bothered by finding these balls. I play golf myself, and I understand the urge to hit a few shots now and then. Some are likely to go astray, no matter your level of skill. If Rory McIlroy can hit a drive at Augusta National into cabins so far off the fairway that I’d never even known the cabins were up there, the rest of us can certainly knock one over the neighbor’s fence. And the balls on my property were nowhere near anywhere they’d do any damage.
After all, we live where we do so we can do what we like up here on Dry Creek Hill without going to an HOA or dealing with nit-picky rules. We like it that we hardly ever see anyone else and no one else sees us. I figure my neighbors are up here for similar reasons, and I grant them the same rights. If they want to pull in a trailer and hit a few golf balls around, that’s fine. I did the same. And if a ball lands somewhere that’s a problem, I’ll let them know. Maybe I’ll find a new golfing partner in the process.
Otherwise, I hope they have a nice round. I can always use a few more shag balls. And I advise them to try not to ding their clubs on the rocks.
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Do kids still hang around courses and pick balls out of ponds and such? We used to get cold, hard cash for balls that could be used for practice. I don’t remember the going rate at this point, but I know that if we got enough we could get into the swimming pool, and that cost fifty cents.
As long as you know you’re far enough away to avoid a flying ball, it’s all good. My dad got dropped by a ball on our local course one day. He was fine — once he came to consciousness and got out of the ER!
I seldom see kids that aren’t playing golf around the courses these days. I think the general societal rise in “Don’t do this, that, or anything else without a helmet and parachute” has made it tougher for kids to hang out on the courses. But ball retrieval is still a profitable enterprise for people who work at it. I have some buddies (adults, not kids) that are always fishing balls with retrievers as they play or who cruise the course in their cart when it’s pretty empty. They sell the balls to jobbers that travel around. They only get about 10 cents a ball, but they can make a few hundred bucks a year that way.
Like you, I made money off lost balls as a kid. I’d wade across Buffalo Bayou and collect them in an out of bounds gully alongside Lakeside Country Club and then sell them to my father’s friends. He didn’t play golf, but a lot of his friends did. He was always surprised at how much I could make off a good haul.
I’m not too worried about being hit by a stray ball on my property. I pass through the areas I’ve found the balls but rarely hang out there and the flying balls seem to be a rare and off-hours occurrence. I’ve never seen anyone hitting a ball – I’ve just found the evidence.