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MeadowWood’s driving range requires special ball retrieval

Thu., July 11, 2013, midnight

It’s a bright, hot afternoon and Brett Siddoway, 18, stuffs his legs inside waders, ties a garbage can to the back of his golf cart and picks up his fishing net.

Siddoway said his job title is probably range hand at MeadowWood Golf Course in Liberty Lake, but he’s not quite sure.

“I’ve been trying to figure that out for three years,” he said.

While Siddoway spends time cleaning golf carts, filling gas tanks and doing whatever else is needed on the course, he spends a great deal of time collecting golf balls from the man-made lake at the driving range.

He wades out into the lake, stirring up dirt and some of the balls that have sunk underneath the lake’s algae and caught in the milfoil.

At MeadowWood, because the driving range is on a lake, the course uses special balls.

“They float,” said head golf pro Bob Scott, who said the balls travel about 95 to 97 percent as far as a regular ball.

For Siddoway, this means he can scoop up the balls using his fishing net. It’s easier to do on windy days, when the balls drift into the northeast corner of the lake.

He scoops them out a few at a time, avoiding the algae and milfoil that tend to clog the ball cleaner.

It’s a quiet job. Golfers wave as they drive by on carts. An osprey flies overhead to try to catch the grass carp in the lake.

The fish don’t bother him while he’s working, but there are turtles in the water that have come after him.

It takes about two hours to fill three or four garbage cans each day.

At other golf courses, employees drive around with a cart that scoops up the balls on the range.

“That would be so much easier,” he said.

Siddoway said in the three years he’s had this job he’s almost been hit with a ball only once, and not from the driving range, but from one of the holes that run alongside the lake.

The job has perks. An avid golfer himself, Siddoway said he likes that he can play any of the three Spokane County golf courses for free once a week, plus, sometimes he finds regular golf balls among the Wilson Range Floaters (“Our preferred floating golf ball,” he said).

He said when he was a seventh-grader at Greenacres Middle School, English teacher Becky Smallfoot told the class if they were ever looking for a job, she could recommend them at the course, where she knows Scott. As a sophomore at Central Valley, he sent her an email asking if the offer was still there, and it was.

Now, he’s one of three range hands at MeadowWood. He’ll attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, to study chemical engineering.

“He’s about as good as it gets,” Scott said of Siddoway. “He’s a real nice kid.”

Once the balls have been collected, Siddoway takes them back to the clubhouse to the ball washer.

He said it’s a fairly easy job but he loves working outside.

“You’re out in the sun, moving around,” he said. “Just doing whatever they tell us to do.”

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