No. 1 tee at MeadowWood. A broad fairway beckons.
But an acquaintance (unnamed in this story to spare abundant embarrassment) lashes a savage power hook into the residences adjacent to the fairway.
We can see the ball strike a window, but it takes a moment for that dreadful crashing sound to reach us.
How does he react (after the muttered profanity)? He hits a mully and slithers up the right side of the fairway.
What the shot created - aside from unplanned ventilation - was a curiosity about who is liable in such situations, and what is the proper protocol.
In this case, skulking worked. The only cost to the golfer was the ridicule he has absorbed since.
Further research reveals that different situations exist.
At communities developed around courses, in many cases, residents sign covenants that they will assume responsibility for damages.
If you build on a golf course, you might as well use balata siding and Titleist-proof glass. Barring that, it is the golfer - not the course or the homeowner - who carries the liability.
“We have gotten legal advice that said that the liability is with the golfer,” said Steve Prugh, pro at Manito Country Club. “Typically, what we see, is a golfer comes over and says, ‘Hey, I’ve got homeowner’s (insurance) and that will take care of it’. In our situation, the golfer’s homeowner’s has always dealt with it adequately.”
Avondale, in Hayden Lake, Idaho, has a number of homes along the course, but pro Tim Morton said he’s seen relatively few problems.
“Really, most people who live on courses don’t complain; they know what the conditions will be when they move in - a lot of balls in the yard and some off the roof,” Morton said. “Every once in a while someone will go in a yard and try to play out of there, or drive their cart through somebody’s yard. We leave it up to the player and owner to settle.”
Jerry Zink, pro at The Fairways, recounts a story when the course took responsibility for damage.
“A couple of years ago, one our of maintenance crew was cutting rough between the range and No. 18 and he caught a range ball in the mower,” Zink said. “It spun it about 130 yards through the plate glass window at (former Eastern Washington University football coach) Dick Zornes’ house and scared his wife half to death.”
The key in the relationship between homeowners and errant golfers, clearly, is understanding and communication. Because damage WILL occur.
“Oh yeah, I’m an expert,” said Bill Monrean, whose patio overlooks MeadowWood’s first fairway. He proudly displays the first ball ever to hit the house. Like some trophy walleye, Monrean has it mounted to his wall - a Maxfli Tour Edition with a bronze plaque below it citing the date, March 16, 1991.
Good-natured about the whole thing, Monrean has his exposed windows covered with hard plastic shields. And he has a box of several hundred balls that have found their way onto his property.
“Mainly, we get some apologies from golfers; they tend to be very civil about it,” Monrean said.
The most dangerous golfers?
“No question, the young fellas,” Monrean said. “They’re the wildest and strongest - they send it 250 yards and have absolutely no idea where the thing is going to go.”
As Sally O’Hara sees it, a few dents in the house are worth it. “The plusses are that for four or five months a year, we have this whole gorgeous vista to ourselves,” said O’Hara, whose home sits adjacent to MeadowWood’s sixth green. “And so far, golfers have been very pleasant.”
When 30-year-old Deb Doles tees off at the USGA Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship Monday in New Jersey, it will be clear she has taken a very strange route since leaving Spokane.
All the way through St. Aloysius, Gonzaga Prep and Washington State University, Deb (Craig) Doles never lifted a golf club.
And when she started, at age 24, her score often added up to 140 or 150.
As Doles told the Valley Daily News of Kent - her current hometown - she took up the game because “Basically, I have a husband who said, ‘If you want to see me, then you better play (golf) with me on the weekends’.”
Only six years later, she carries a 4 handicap. She shot a 1-under, course-record 71 at Redmond’s Willows Run Golf Course in the area Publinx qualifier. Four days after that, she broke the record at Riverbend with a 3-under 69.
Now, if the husband wants to see her, he has to follow her to tournaments.
The Downriver Firecracker Open is set for July 1-2, with the first day consisting of a two-man best ball and the second a two-man scramble.
Cost is $70 per team. Call the course at 327-5269 for further information.
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