08/18/08 — Damage from golf balls not concern at course

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Damage from golf balls not concern at course

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 18, 2008 1:36 PM

Residents living on Dixie Trail, Slocumb and John streets at times might experience a hazard that other homeowners in the city might not -- flying golf balls.

But if they do experience damage to their property from errant shots from the Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course, they have 30 minutes to report the incident.

Otherwise, city officials say, they are not liable.

But complaints are few and far between, said city Recreation and Parks Director Sonya Shaw.

She said her department has received only one such complaint in the past year.

The city, she said, will listen to the complaint, but is not liable for any damages that might result.

For a car owner, or other property owner, to get redress, he or she must report the incident within 30 minutes, Mrs. Shaw said.

"If the golf course receives a call from a resident within 30 minutes of the damage, the staff can identify the golfer who may have caused it," she said. "That's a pretty good response time."

If the golf course staff can identify the golfer who hit the off-course ball, then the golfer normally covers the damages, Mrs. Shaw said.

Rick Atkins, an employee at the golf course since 2000, said he only hears about a few incidents a year.

"Most of the time, people don't call us," he said. "We have solved a lot of cases when we were notified. If we aren't, there is no way for us to know."

There have been several incidents over the years where Atkins said golfers have come to the staff to let them know about times they might have hit a ball outside of the course area -- and the golfers have covered damages -- but not many golfers let staff know when their ball strays.

Mrs. Shaw said the screening around the facility is more than sufficient.

There is a combination of chain and privacy fencing and 40-foot trees that surround the golf course, she said, a step up from other courses.

"Most courses do not have any fencing surrounding the course," she said. "The fencing around the golf course is to help keep children from getting hit by stray balls and to help alleviate situations such as these."

Atkins agreed.

"We are an older golf course, and we're tree-lined pretty good," he said.

Mrs. Shaw believes the city is doing a good job with keeping the golf balls on the course and away from homes.

"If we only get one complaint per year, the city has done an adequate job protecting area residents," she said.

The golf course was built in 1941, Atkins said, and the city has owned the land since then. The country club was built afterward as an addition to the course. To his knowledge, the city has never paid for golf ball damages.

"The city leased the course out for a few years, but when they handled it, they didn't pay for damages," he said. "We have all the proper postings letting people know that (the city isn't liable for damages by golf balls)."