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Rogue golf balls continue to be a concern for residents

Rogue golf balls near Hole 9 of the St. Paul Golf Course continue to be a concern for residents who live nearby.
Golf clubs

ST. PAUL - Rogue golf balls near Hole 9 of the St. Paul Golf Course continue to be a concern for residents who live nearby. 

While no motion was carried by council, the issue was brought forward at the July 26 regular council meeting during a list of briefings provided by administration.

"There has been an ongoing issue with golf balls being sliced off the Hole 9 tee box and damaging property in the adjacent cul-de-sac," reads the Town's agenda. "This spring, five trees were planted which in time will likely mitigate the issue to a certain extent, but a lot of the balls go right over the existing trees. The problem did lessen when the leaves first bloomed, but now the golf balls driven with sufficient force have cracked siding, put a hole in the shed roof and broken a window."

The golf course is owned and managed by the Town of St. Paul. In an attempt to mitigate the issue, some of the tee boxes were moved forward. While it seemed to help with the problem, golfers were not happy with the change.

"Once the tee boxes were put back in the original configuration the complaints started again," according to CAO Kim Heyman. 

Director of Parks and Recreation Harvey Smyl was on hand to offer more insight on the issue. He noted that moving the tee boxes up would likely change the hole from a Par 4 to a Par 3.

He noted that similar issues of balls hitting homes and going into yards have been seen on Holes 16 and 17, on the back nine. 

Coun. Norm Noel spoke during the discussions, saying he's personally experienced issues at a family-owned residence located near Hole 5. He noted that stray golf balls are "part of living near a golf course," and he would hate to see the game itself changed.

While Smyl acknowledged that those who live near the golf course are aware of the golf course being there when they purchase a home, he also noted he would hate to see someone injured by a stray golf ball. He said he was in favour of doing whatever could be done to help residents, within reason.

Smyl explained that while trees have been planted, they are at least four or five years away from being large enough to help with the issue, since balls are being hit over the trees.

Coun. Tyson deMoissac wondered if there could be a marshall in the area, to ensure golfers who do hit balls out of bounds take responsibility for damage that may occur. 

"That slice is unreal if you're hitting those houses," said deMoissac. 

Heyman said there have also been reports of golfers who have allegedly been rude to homeowners when stray balls enter their yard.

"It comes down to golfer control," said Noel.

Coun. Gary Ward explained that at a recent Recreation Board meeting the issue was discussed and it was suggested that the white tee box be moved up to the red tee box, and then the blue tee box be moved to where the white tee box was.

Smyl said he would like something to do done, and agreed to moving the tees on Hole 9, as per the Rec. Board's recommendation. He said would report back to council at the end of the golf season. 

Golfers who cause damage to private property are responsible for any costs that may be incurred, and are also supposed to go to the residence and admit if damage was caused, according to administration.

Coun. Nathan Taylor questioned how the Town can hold people accountable and how the rules can be enforced. 

Ward said one issue was that sometimes, golfers are not even aware that damage has been caused, and don't realize they've hit something. 

"We can appreciate your challenge," said Mayor Maureen Miller, speaking to Smyl as discussions wrapped up.

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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