Fore! … Oops.

I could relate to Alexander’s story this week about the family who sued a country club about all the golf balls hitting their house. First, the story:


Erik and Athina Tenczar were upset about golf balls being hit into the home they bought on Country Club Way in Kingston, Mass. So after trying to get the Indian Pond Country Club to address the problem (it says it tried), they sued. They won nearly $5 million, including interest, plus an injunction. The amount reflects property damage in the form of dented walls and shattered windows, including one over a play kitchen (they have three young daughters), plus emotional distress. “When it hits, it sounds like a gunshot,” Athina Tenczar said. Almost 700 golf balls have flown onto their land, and children at play used bicycle helmets to protect them from the projectiles. The club will appeal. Its lawyer says it has an easement over the residences adjoining the golf course. (AC/Boston Globe, WCVB Boston) …Home buyers beware: if someone has an easement, you may not have much ease.

My situation wasn’t so dire.

Common Problem

Short Version: I lived along (as I recall) the 14th fairway of a country club. Never again.

Long Version: Plenty of balls landed in my yard, pool (almost always punching through the floating cover), and roof, but only once did one come through the window.

Clancy poses with me in a 2002 publicity photo, perched on his favorite spot. He died in 2005 at about 16.

I was out, and came home to find my Writer’s Cat, Clancy, batting a golf ball around on the floor. “Where did you get that?” I wondered. Then I noticed the glass on the floor, and worried that he may have cut a paw. Then I noticed the hole in the kitchen window.

A phone call to the country club brought “I’ll transfer you to the Golf Pro,” and I explained the problem. “I think I know who that was,” the Pro said. “I’ll have him contact you.”

A few hours later the doorbell rang. I opened the door and was almost immediately blinded by a man’s bright, lime-green sweater, fluorescent pink pants, and white shoes. Once I regained my senses, I looked up to his face. “Yes?”

“Very sorry,” he replied. “I’ll be happy to pay to replace your window.” He handed me his business card, showing he was a local lawyer, and said to send him the bill. He even recommended a good local window repair shop, which should tell you something (and helps to explain how the Golf Pro so quickly figured out who the culprit was).

Fore! … Oops: a golfer — not Jim Lawyer — gives it a good whack (source: markusspiske via Pixabay)

Since I long ago forgot his name, let’s just call him Jim Lawyer.

I did call the recommended window repair place, and they came out pretty quickly and did a very nice job fixing the window. They left a bill.

Rather than spend the stamp to send the bill to lawyer Lawyer’s office, I stopped there since it was right on my way home from work.

“Is Jim available?” I asked the receptionist.

Mister Lawyer is in court today,” she said with her well-iced voice.

After years as a first responder, I don’t faze easily. “No problem,” I replied. “Please give him two things.” I handed her the golf ball that had come through my window. Her face immediately showed her confusion as she focused on the ball in her hand. And then, before she could get a word out, I handed her the bill, said good day, and turned and went out the door.

He paid the bill.

– – –

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11 Comments on “Fore! … Oops.

  1. At first I read this as a lawyer that specialised in golfing. Thankfully my confusion was cleared by reading the full story. 😀

    Great outcome!

  2. If I’m not mistaken — IANAL, as we used to say on Usenet — such an easement would be a cloud on the title, and a title search would reveal it at purchase time… a document that would, I think, be in the public record.

  3. I worked at a local “public” golf course that has a number of homes parallel to the golf holes. The golf course came first, the homes later.

    Nevertheless, a new home owner constantly called the Pro Shop to let us know he was not happy that he was finding golf balls in his yard. (Note: no windows or other damage by golf balls was ever reported. Our response was always the same: contact the local police department and/or make a formal complaint to the Township Commissioners. The home owner did both:

    – The policeman who went to talk to the homeowner (who by the way played at our golf course) asked him why he bought a house right next to a golf course if he was going to be upset find golf balls in his yard? He told the home owner there was nothing legally to be done to stop golf balls from being hit into his yard.

    – One of the Commissioners at the time lived across the street from this new homeowner, and his back yard was right up against another fairway. He often had golf balls hit into his backyard. When the new owner brought the matter up at one of the board meetings, he was asked the same thing: why did he get upset from finding golf balls in his yard when he knew the property was adjacent to a golf course before he bought the property? Those citizens attending the meeting were laughing so hard the home owner abruptly left in a huff.

    The home was soon put up for sale by the homeowner.

  4. Thankfully Clancy was not injured, but what if he had been. Also what about your time being spent on cleaning up the broken glass and getting the repairs done? You are self employed, your time is valuable. Why did you not ask for or expect some additional compensation. Not being judgmental, just curious.

    If Clancy had been injured, then there would be a vet bill for him to pay. Sweeping up a little glass wasn’t a big deal, and I wasn’t self-employed at the time anyway (it was during my NASA days). But I’m highly satisfied that even in this story, you’re thinking about possible ramifications! -rc

  5. When I moved to Oro Valley (just north of Tucson, Arizona), I did an online search and found a house that looked perfect. However, when the agent showed it to me, we discovered a hole through a large double-pane window. I passed.

  6. Just be glad he didn’t try to play it from inside your house! Great story, great person for owning his mistake.

  7. People who move next to existing golf courses, move next to existing airports, move next to existing factories, … (I could go on) it seems IMHO they ought to know what they’ve moved next to. In fact, some of them move to those locations for that very reason. Just sayin.’

    Yeah, but there’s a line somewhere. If planes crash into the yard every few weeks, it’s time for the airport to put a stop to it. How many golf balls does it take? In this case, more than 700. It’s time for the golf course to put a stop to it. -rc

  8. Here in the UK people will move into a village next to a farm, and then complain about the smells, or next to a church with a chiming clock and complain about the noise. As is shown every week in your column, “Common Sense” is not very common.

  9. I’d like to know if the case records show what were some of the remedies the golf course said they’d “tried”. Teaching people not to slice/hook? Left-hand drives only? Right-hand? Netting? Fences?

    How does a course succeed in failing to solve such a problem?

  10. we had a developer put a development next to a pig farm near us…. people moved in and then complained about the smell just like they complain about the smell when the farmers fertilize the fields they complained to the township… Township said the same thing you moved into the country what do you expect .. The farm was here first… That was many years back the farm is till there but no pigs.. farmer retired his kids did not want to deal with the BS of the people in the development so they sold the pigs cleaned the farm and sold it


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