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May. 21, 2022 | Saturday
Local News
Sports: Fore! Errant golf balls from both sides now
Ken Porter and his granddaughter, Georgia, with their latest finds from the front yard.

It requires special skill but plenty of golfers find their way on to Ken Porter's front yard

Ken and Janet Porter love the home they built at Front and Simcoe streets, facing the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club.

But every once in a while they are jolted by the loud bang of a golf ball slamming into the side of their house.

"It sounds like a picture falling off the wall," says Ken Porter. "The house gets hit four or five times a year, but we've never had a broken window." 


They enjoy the picturesque views of the ninth green on the Simcoe side and the first fairway along Front Street.

The downside is a lot golf balls zinging their way onto the lawn and gardens of their property, mainly in spring and early summer as golfers refine their game.

A few weeks ago, "a ball hit a car on Front Street, bounced a few times and rolled up the driveway into my open garage as I was getting into my car," Porter says. "I've seen a few cars hit and windows broken."

From the ninth hole, balls regularly bounce across Simcoe to the Porters' yard and other homes facing the fairway. Other than some large trees, the street and parked cars, there's not much to stop them. 

But the closing hole only accounts for about 20 per cent of the way out-of-bounds balls, Porter says.

It's a much tougher shot from the first hole to the Porters' yard, but plenty of hackers still manage to find the corner property. About 80 per cent of the wild shots come from that direction.

To make such a high-calibre bad shot, golf balls must soar over several trees and a high fence on the course property, fly over a walking path, past another line of trees and shrubs, miss a line of parked cars and then cross the road and a sidewalk. 

On a weekend visit, Porter and his granddaughter Georgia, 2, went golf ball hunting in the front yard and gathered another 15 balls in various spots around the gardens. Whenever Georgia visits, she looks forward to the golf ball hunt, Grandpa says.

"I check the gardens a few times a month and before I cut the lawn each time," he says.

His two most memorable finds were a "Canada Cup ball that would have been over 30 years old, and cost under a dollar then, and another ball that was sitting perfectly positioned on a chair cushion – on the second-floor balcony."

Then there was the time a few years ago when he saw a ball from the first tee land on the front lawn and waited to see if someone would come by looking for it.

Most golfers are pretty shy about claiming a shot-gone-so-badly-wrong. Not this player. And he had a plan.

"A guy comes over and sees his ball on my front lawn and then goes back to get a club to play the ball off my lawn," Porter says.

"I came out of the house and asked him to get off the lawn and to just pick up his ball and leave," he recalls. "He was serious about playing the shot even though he was some 30 yards out of bounds." (For those who don't golf: that's a major rule violation, not to mention just a bit audacious.)

Porter estimates he has recovered more than 300 balls over the past seven years.

He's a member of the golf club, so he donates the balls to the club's junior program where they'll have a second life among the next generation of players.

Except that vintage Canada Cup ball. He still has it around – "somewhere."