£120,000 course redesign was egg-stremely unnecessary

Emma Williams
By Emma Williams June 10, 2016 12:34

A golf course owner has said he nearly had to spend thousands of pounds redesigning his course to make it safer – but discovered that nearby ‘wayward balls’ had actually been dropped by birds.

Neil Sjoberg from Epping Golf Course said that birds’ confusion between golf balls and eggs may have resulted in some venues spending six figure sums on totally unnecessary work.

In fact, he said, one venue spent £120,000 on a course redesign because balls were found on a nearby block of flats’ roof – only to discover later that the balls had been deposited by birds and not hit by golfers.

“They spent £120,000 on altering the course rather than ask an obvious question,” he said. “How were golfers able to hit hundreds of golf balls onto the roof without one ever striking a window?”

Two of Epping’s holes play around a private school that the venue has excellent relations with, including the running of golf events for the pupils.

“However, a golf ball had, apparently, flown 120 yards and 30 degrees off course and landed in the playground, causing no damage or injury,” said Sjoberg.

“At first glance one would say ‘just not possible’. We put up extra signs and a very tall net, re-angled the suspect tee and closed another tee during school hours.

“Nevertheless, an onsite inspection between us and the school added to their alarm as they found 40 golf balls where, we had said, ‘they cannot possibly go’.”

Sjoberg could, at that point, have invested in a course redesign, but instead he investigated where the balls had landed and discovered they were all bunched in clusters, usually at the mouth of fox or badger holes.
“Golf balls started appearing in the playground and with even greater frequency when the golf course was under snow,” he said. “Even with no golfers, balls were appearing in the playground!”

It then became clear that birds had thought the balls were eggs and were dropping them on hard surfaces in a search for food. He submitted a report to the school and it was agreed that a redesign was not necessary.

“It was in the early 1980s at another course in Essex that there was an apartment block 70 yards from the second green. When the residents’ committee trailed up on the flat roof to discuss resurfacing they found 400 golf balls!

“This started a chain of events and over the next three years £120,000 was spent reducing the magnificent opening par five to a harmless par four and realigning the second par three hole again to a far less impressive par four. This involved building a new first green and second tee,” said Sjoberg.

“I was chatting to a decorator recently. He said: ‘I was patching up the roof of last week and found 427 golf balls!’

“So if you are ever desperately trying to gather evidence of stray golf ball patterns and how to avoid paying for expensive course alterations after discovering a stray ball, do some research first!”


Emma Williams
By Emma Williams June 10, 2016 12:34
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