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Readers weigh in on wayward golf balls

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POSTED October 19, 2009 3:26 a.m.

Jerry Weed believes the City of Manteca should be the responsible party when a wayward golf ball flies over the fence at Crom Street and hits someone or something.

He was one of several readers who weighed in their two cents after reading my recent column about a Manteca resident’s dilemma when her car sustained a dent and a cracked windshield from an errant golf ball coming from the golf course while driving on Crom. Olivia (she did not leave her last name in her voice mail message) first went to talk to the staff at the golf course to seek a financial remedy. She was told the golf course was not responsible and referred her to the people at City Hall. They told her the city was not responsible either and informed her that she should go after the guilty golfer who sent the errant golf ball the wrong way and then perhaps she could get some recourse by going after the player’s insurance.

But Weed, as well as a few others, did not think that was a practical or even reasonable solution. They asked, how would you know who was the responsible golfer in the first place? But they did not really go so far as to say that would be tantamount to finding a needle in a haystack. Besides, maybe the poor golfer was not even aware that their miss on the links hit someone or something on the street, said an amused Weed who spends quite a bit of time on the greens.

Local comedian Joe Rivera, who was the host and promoter of the 209 comedy competition at Rookies on Oct. 10, said he always takes Crom as a way to avoid the stop lights on Louise Avenue when he goes home to Lathrop and has been quite lucky so far.

“I have never had a problem with golf balls on Crom. I always take Crom from Union to get to Airport on my way back home to Lathrop. It is quicker than going to the lights on Louise,” he wrote in his e-mail.

Just as fortunate to date are Paul and Marla Anderson who don’t just drive by Crom; they are practically next-door neighbors to the golf course.

“We live in Greenview Estates and have not had a golf ball hit the car or us for the 15 years we have lived here, and we are in and out on Crom all day,” e-mailed the Andersons.

“HOWEVER!!!” they added with enough emphasis. “Maybe you should ask the city, who is placing responsibility on the home buyers: what about the city for putting in a street where they did?”

Of course, the issue is now water under the bridge, but the Andersons say that in retrospect, the city could have designed things differently “so that homes backed up to where the golf course fence is (along Crom) and Crom Street (could have been) moved one street of (the) homes to the north.”

As for the city advising victims to go after the owner of the wayward golf ball, the Andersons, like several people I talked to, said they see that as a futile effort if not a wild goose chase.

“The city says you need to find who hit the ball!!! Come on, we all know that is about impossible. Even the person who hit the ball may not always know it hit someone or something,” said the Andersons.

But perhaps one of the more interesting feedback I received came from Mantecan Harold Ortega who, like the Andersons, lives in the upscale developments on the north side of Crom across from the golf course.

“I have had experience with golf balls flying over the fence and bouncing down Crom. When my little girl was younger, we thought it was fun to walk the dog and see if we could find golf balls down the street and also in (the) school yard in Stella Brockman (elementary school),” he wrote in his e-mail.

“Now, we don’t do that anymore due to the hazard of almost being hit by a golfer,” he said.

He realizes the city’s explanation that as far as the law states, the municipality which owns the public golf course is immune from any liability resulting from an out-of-bounds golf ball hitting a vehicle or someone because the golf course was already there when the houses were built at Greenview Estates and homeowners should have been aware of that and the hazards that came with that proximity.

Still, Ortega said, “the only thing that makes me nervous is the children walking to and from (Stella Brockman) school, because I know in this day and society, no one would come forward if they hit someone or something on Crom Street.”

Ortega has a good point. Anybody who has driven by Crom during any given school day knows that there is always a good number of young pedestrians pounding the pavements there morning and afternoon to and from school. I just hope and pray that nothing more serious than a car dent or cracked windshield from a flying golf ball will ever see the light day on Crom Street.
 
To contact Rose Albano Risso, e-mail ralbanorisso@mantecabulletin.com or call (209) 249-3536.
 

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