Stray Golf Balls Are A Familiar Refrain

There’s a catchy song from the early ’80s in which a British band sings about “Our House – in the middle of our street.”

With all due respect to Madness, Al Gori and his wife, Pam, would like to change the name of the tune to “Our House – in the middle of our course.”

You see, the Gori household is located on a cul-de-sac smack-dab in the middle of the Killian Greens Golf Club.

And this brings up a unique situation involving falling objects.

As most people know, numerous things come down from the sky. There’s rain, there’s hail, there’s sleet.

Often, weathermen try to vividly and solemnly describe hail with this sort of terminology: “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the hail this afternoon that unrelentingly pelted our city reached the size of golf balls.”

Well, for Al and Pam, it actually is golf balls falling down on them since they moved into the home 14 years ago.

At one point, the Goris had collected more than 10,000 golf balls that landed in their backyard and elsewhere and stored them in a shed.

Needless to say, Al Gori, at age 60, quickly grew extremely adept at knowing when to duck.

“They hit the house, they bounce off the pool screen, they can hit the roof, they land in the yard, they hit the aluminum pool supports,” Al said. “The pool supports – now that’s a big, loud noise.”

Hearing this scenario might make some people think that Al’s and Pam’s home purchase might have come with some regrets. Not so … not so, at all. In fact, they love the place where they live.

Invariably, when a home is located on a golf course it actually adds to the home’s monetary value. People pay extra to enjoy the bonus of looking out onto the lush greenery of a course and the array of wildlife that can usually be found amid the fairways, greens, rough and surrounding trees and lakes.

The only difference with the Gori home is that it is, to put it politely, in the line of fire.

However, they did not purchase the home without being aware of the golf ball bombardment aspect.

“The owner warned us ahead of time – you are going to get a lot of golf balls landing in the yard,” Al said. “Boy, he was right. Really right.”

Al and Pam bought their home-sweet-home on the 15th hole at Killian Greens, a 365-yard, par-4 from the white tees with a sharp dogleg to the right. The dogleg is severe enough you cannot see the green from the tee. However, the shortest distance to the green in this case is directly over the Gori backyard. And although going over the Gori roof might be the shortest route from tee to pin, it is also a somewhat low-percentage shot. But, as you might suspect, that doesn’t stop most golfers.

After all, golfers – as we all know – can be a pretty stubborn and obsessive breed.

Example: Carlos Zambrano, a Killian Greens golfer who recently was teeing up on the aforementioned 15th hole. Zambrano said he loves playing that particular hole – and that he also enjoys hitting over the Gori house.

“I like cutting the dogleg,” Zambrano said.

“It’s a good hole,” and then he added with a smile, “and it’s a really tempting hole.”

The end result of all this is the Gori home sometimes sounds like a Batman movie: CRASH! BAM! BOP! CLANK! SMACK! and so on.

Yes, the Goris have taken some precautions. There is fencing that the golf course helped pay for, plenty of trees in the backyard, extra-heavy screening around the pool and a canopy over the driveway in the front yard that protects the cars.

OK, so what about those 10,000 golf balls Al and his wife collected (harvested?) in those early months and put in the shed?

What to do?

Well, they eventually turned lost balls into a monetary bonus. They started selling them.

Mostly, Al sells them to Marv Williams, an avid golf ball hunter who plays various courses, including Killian Greens.

“The biggest amount that I sold Marv was that original 10,000,” Al said. “I honestly didn’t know what to do with them. I was giving them away before that.”

Typically now balls are cleaned up and sold back to courses or businesses who then sell them to golfers at a reasonable price – certainly for considerably less than the cost of a new Titleist Pro V1 that some golfer undoubtedly will lose in the water on the first hole.

So, to put it in kinder terms, even a lost or slightly used or slightly damaged golf ball can find a loving home such as the Goris’. You could even go so far as to say the Goris are serving as a golf ball orphanage.

“They hit the house, they bounce off the pool screen, they can hit the roof, they land in the yard, they hit the aluminum pool supports. … now that’s a big, loud noise.”
Homeowner AL GORI

Al and his wife pick up the balls daily, getting somewhere in the vicinity of 75 a week. One time they even found the broken-off clubhead of a driver in their yard. Might have been club abuse, thrown there in anger after the person’s drive did not clear the backyard.

Most-gathered in the yard: Titleist and Kirkland (which Costco sells).

One thing Al is careful about is to make sure the yard is all clear of balls before the mowing service cuts their lawn. Mower blades and golf balls apparently are a bad mix.

Although they deal with golf balls on a daily basis, you can describe Al’s and Pam’s actual playing of golf as sporadic – and, sorry to say this – self-admittedly erratic. Al says they plan to play more and improve in the near future.

Al is forgiving about golfers hitting into his yard: “We can’t get upset about people hitting into the yard. It’s like leaves falling to the ground.” Important note to Al: Golf balls are a little bit harder on the head than a leaf.

Once all is said and done, Al and Pam sum up, “We really enjoy living on a golf course. It’s beautiful.”

And, of course, they have a favorite hole at Killian Greens?

You guessed it. The 15th.

Note to readers: In the course of this interview taking place in the Gori backyard, a wayward shot did come whizzing past and went kerplunk into the backyard. We are pleased to announce that no human (particularly, a certain writer) was hurt or injured in the crafting of this story.

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