Quaker Ridge Golf Club is a secluded private club in Scarsdale, New York. He was designed by A.W. Tillinghast, the architect of the neighboring Winged Foot Golf Club, which is hosting this year's United States Open Championship.
Golfers familiar with good golf courses will debate whether Quaker Ridge, which opened in 1916, seven years before its better-known cousin, is the superior course. One area that makes Quaker Ridge stand out is the second hole. A slight dogleg on the right with out of bounds on the right. It is rated by the course judges as the fifth hardest hole on the course.
But it might come first in the metropolitan area for angry, argumentative neighbors who don't want balls to hit their property. The house on the right, where badly hit shots landed, has been the subject of litigation and damage control for about 10 years.
The house is now hidden behind huge, mature trees that were moved there from other parts of the square after the owner sued. They are used to barricade the house, as well as a net that the club had installed. (The owner is not a member.)
Even so, balls fly into the yard. To better keep an eye on the balls, players are given an odd-numbered ball – 21, 55, 73 – and the number is recorded in a ledger by a marshal. When the hole is complete, the players place the numbered balls in a container on the third tee and continue with their own ball.
For some who live on courses, balls screaming into the begonias, the cost of living is there. Others may not see it that way. Even some golfers who value life on the course can become irritated when a mistaken shot causes damage. One way to avoid the problem is to carefully examine the location of the property.
When Jane Edwards and Lou Neudorff moved from New York to the Bay Creek Resort & Club in Cape Charles, Virginia, they identified a few locations with obvious problems.
"One of the plots we looked at was 50 meters from the tee, on the right, with no trees in front of it," said Neudorff. "I said we can't buy this lot, I know what's going to happen."
Golf is an area in the United States that is booming economically during the pandemic. People work from home instead of commuting.
In June, nearly eight million more rounds were played than in June, an increase of 13.9 percent, according to the National Golf Foundation. In Gulf states, where life on a course is very desirable, those rounds increased even more, the foundation found: Arizona grew 29 percent, Florida 25 percent, Georgia 24 percent, and Texas 23 percent.
Unfortunately, the frequency of the game does not correlate with the accuracy of the shots.
While the foundation doesn't track flawed recordings, it tracks the level of interest. That too has increased. Around 15 million people who had never played golf said they were more interested in playing. And some of these newbies could reasonably be linked to misses.
James Wiant, 65, who lives at the Spanish Wells Country Club in Bonita Springs, Florida, only played golf a few years ago when he retired from Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and donut company. Mr. Wiant said he was an avid, if occasionally flawed, golfer.
He's had run-ins. On Christmas morning a few years ago, Mr Wiant said he was looking for his ball in someone's plantation. Inside, he heard a man yell at him and get angry as he approached the door. When the owner reached the door, he cursed like a sailor.
"I look up and see this guy come through the door," said Mr. Wiant. "He's probably 89 years old and has a walker that he pushes in front of him. I got my ball and ran away and said Merry Christmas."
But his most enduring memory is hitting not one but two neon golf balls on the roof of a house on the course. They rattled around and got caught where the roof met the metal supports of the screened pool.
"All of my friends made fun of me," said Mr. Wiant. “Right after Hurricane Irma, I went by to see if they were blown away. I thought they were safely gone. But they survived. "
He had a well-established alibi: "I've never met the owner of the house and I refuse. If someone asks if it's me, I'll refuse. I'll say who plays neon golf balls?"
Golfers would prefer to be on the fairway, not a porch. But misses can come from any direction.
The right side of each course is a reliable danger zone, where beginners and advanced players hit sluggish balls to the right. It is the tall disk that rises and goes on until it is far from the line. Make sure you are 150 to 200 meters from the tee. But someone who buys a house about 100 meters from the tee could also be in danger: this is reserved for the duck hook.
When it is amused when a disc soars high above the trees and lands where the golfer will never see it again, the duck hook does not produce such joy. It's a hard, soul-destroying shot that is often followed by explosives.
The disc can splash harmlessly into a pool or come to rest in a garden. But the duck hook is a wilder animal with its low, hard trajectory that can tear through screens and injure a homeowner's legs and backs in the garden.
John Gracik, a retired insurance company who lives 100 yards from the tee on the 16th hole at the Eaglebrooke club in Lakeland, Florida, believed he was safe on the left. But he had broken windows, a damaged pool umbrella, and dozens of golf balls to prove hooks happen too.
"It's going to be pretty expensive," said 68-year-old Gracik. "But there's not much you can do about it. We kind of accept it."
Ms. Edwards and Mr. Neudorff of Cape Charles, Virginia, eventually fell in love with a crowd in Bay Creek, about 140 to 200 yards from a row of tee boxes. They comforted themselves in the trees between their property and the cart lane, but their builder knew better. "He was a golfer and he assured me that he would put our house on our property to ease the fear of golf balls," Ms. Edwards said.
He achieved this by building the house at the very front of the property line, leaving a larger back yard. "We have berms and trees that give us privacy," she said, "and beds that give these flawed golf balls more space." He understood the situation. "
Even so, Mrs. Edwards said she found balls in her flower pots, while Mr. Neudorff collects at least half a dozen new balls from his garden every week.
Buying an existing home can be more difficult as any semi-savvy real estate agent may not point out the shortcomings. Mr Gracik said it never crossed his mind that he was buying in the line of fire.
"The real estate people are pretty smart," he said. “We went through the front door and looked right through, to the back, and you could see the pool, the lake, and the trees on the other side. We were kind of blinded because it was such a beautiful view. "
Mr. Wiant, the occasional house hitter, lives in a house behind a par 3 hole and has never been hit by a miss.
"The good golfers won't hit my house because they use irons," he said. "The bad golfers can't make it over the water in front of the green, and if they can't make it over the water they can't hit my house."
Aside from carefully selecting a location, homeowners have little recourse when balls fly into their yards. In many states there is a risk of living there.
Like many things in the good life, a bit of perspective can go a long way. Ms. Edwards said her gardening was mostly a safe profession. But at that time, a man hit a shot near the place where she tended her flowers.
"I heard a golf cart approach and heard a man get out," she said. “Then I heard this long load of terrible speech. He saw me and was so embarrassed. He turned to me and said, "Oh ma'am, I'm so sorry. You have a nice garden."
It all pales in comparison to a neighbor of Mr. Gracik's in Lakeland who came home to find an alligator in his pool. It had crawled out of a pond in the square, gone through the screen, and slid off the porch into the water.
"That's a bit scary," said Mr Gracik. "I've only had one golf ball in my pool in seven years."