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Have you ever wondered what knucklehead came up with the bright idea of putting houses and condos on golf courses? If you play like I do, the thought probably pops into your head several times each round.
I understand the basic economics. It can be a lucrative business decision for developers and real estate agents. The luxury of having a backyard with pristine fairways and greens can be quite attractive to affluent homebuyers. But for players who already have enough trouble avoiding trees, sand and water, adding hazards made of brick and mortar just doesn’t seem fair.
Perhaps homes along the course wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t have those large bay windows. Or patio furniture. Or three or four strips of finely manicured sod. Or cutesy yard sculptures of gnomes, squirrels and rabbits. Or a Cadillac Escalade SUV large enough to be an extension of the main quarters parked in the driveway.
I’ve lost enough balls in folks’ backyards to supply a driving range. Not that I couldn’t find the balls, mind you. I was simply too embarrassed to trample through some uppity rich guy’s azalea bushes while wielding my 3-iron like a machete. I did, however, once use my ball retriever to snag a perfectly good Titleist Pro-V1 from a Jacuzzi.
The worst thing about homes that line golf courses is that people actually live in them. Even more disturbing is that most of them don’t work. Instead, they spend their days standing guard on their finely-appointed decks or patrolling their mulch beds for golfers, like me, who occasionally miss the fairway by a few hundred feet.
“Squeezing in an early morning round recently, I pushed a tee shot that landed squarely on top of a sprawling three-story house.” -Bud Key
Muster enough courage to sneak into someone’s yard and you’re likely to get caught. After a stern lecture about trespassing on private property (and a reminder that you suck at golf), the homeowner might actually give you your ball back. But more likely, you can buy it back the next week since this is the same dude who puts lost balls he finds on display atop a little wooden bench and sells them three for a buck.
Of course, there are those times when the golf gods intervene. Squeezing in an early morning round recently, I pushed a tee shot that landed squarely on top of a sprawling three-story house. Thanks to the pitch of the roof, the ball ricocheted some 50 yards back into the middle of the fairway. Mrs. Homeowner wasn’t nearly as impressed by my good fortune. Still dressed in her nightgown and already on her second Mimosa, she stormed out onto the back porch and berated me for a full five minutes. Not that I really minded. Nylon and lace make for a terrible cloaking device. Just an observation.
On rare occasions, hitting a wayward shot can have a positive effect. On a golf trip to Williamsburg, VA, last summer, one of my playing buddies snap hooked his tee shot so bad it hit a satellite dish. Since we were playing a posh residential course, we figured it was only right to inspect the damage. Sure enough, he had put a golf ball-sized dent into the receiver. After a few swigs of beer, our foursome unanimously agreed he had done the homeowner a big favor. Instead of the Home Shopping Network and Martha Stewart, the lucky guy would now be able to pick up every porn channel from Bangkok to Stockholm.
I guess what really burns me up the most are those signs folks post in their yards that read, “Golfers are Responsible for all Damages.” In one extreme case not too long ago, a homeowner in our town had the audacity to sue local government because golf balls from a nearby municipal course had pelted his house for years. Thankfully the case was thrown out of court the day before testimony was supposed to begin. It’s a good thing, too. First, I already had a tee time scheduled for that afternoon and sure as hell didn’t want to miss it. And second, no one could expect me to tell the truth, the whole truth, about that kitchen window I busted.