Local driving range closes due to golf ball theft

Published on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Roughly 380 pounds of missing golf balls later, Britain and Gail Walker are fed up.

The couple, who own Paddle and Pedal Adventures in Birch Bay, have closed the Sea Links driving range near their shop at 7878 Birch Bay Drive following the theft of 3,800 golf balls. Gail Walker said residents living near the range tell her teenagers regularly visit the driving range at night with pillow cases and walk away with dozens of balls at a time.

“It’s hard enough to manage a business without being sabotaged from within,” Walker said.

The trouble started as soon as the driving range opened for the season in April. In two months, Walker said 2,000 balls were stolen, with an estimated value of $2 each. These particular balls were high-end ones recovered from water hazards on the Sea Links Golf Course.

Walker and her husband then bought 1,800 more balls at about 80 cents each, but those didn’t last long either. With this recent batch pilfered by bands of sticky-fingered entrepreneurs, Walker said she’ll have to close the driving range indefinitely, or until the teenagers bring the balls back.

“There’s not a ball to be had on the driving range,” Walker said. “That’s not vandalism, but it’s still theft.”

Walker said the driving range was typically open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and usually attracted about 10 golfers on weekdays and 20 on weekends.

When asked about engaging law enforcement, Walker said police would have had little impact after the fact. If the teenagers had only asked, Walker said she would have been glad to pay them to collect the balls from the range and return them to her shop.

“If I were a parent, I would wonder where my kid got 1,500 golf balls,” Walker said.