St. Paul Residents Concerned About Golf Ball Damage

“This isn’t a safe place—a safe environment for anybody. No St. Paul taxpayer deserves this.”

Laurie Yoneliunas and her neighbours live in a subdivision surrounded by the back nine of the St. Paul Golf Course. They have become accustomed to their houses and properties occasionally being peppered by stray golf balls.

But according to Yoneliunas, who presented a delegation to St. Paul Town Council on Tuesday, 2018 is the worst year for home damage she’s ever experienced.

“I’ve lived in that subdivision since 2012, and this year has, by far, been the absolute worst one,” she said.

Yoneliunas and her neighbours have had errant golf balls damage house siding, decks, plants, and windows. Some balls even carry so far as to land in front yards, sidewalks, and streets.

“Sometimes, I’m afraid to have my grandchildren over and to play outside with them. You never know when or where a golf ball will land. They’ve come within eight feet of hitting me. This isn’t a safe place—a safe environment for anybody. No St. Paul taxpayer deserves this.”

Another homeowner in the same subdivision has the same frustration and outlined the extent of the damages from this year.

In a letter sent to council, they say they fully understand that golf balls will land in their yard, but that its been unsafe and expensive this year.  Over 20 golf balls have come onto their property and have caused damaged the hood of their vehicle, or once bounced and hit their dog.

“Our six-year-old daughter can no longer play on the new play structure we built,” the letter says.

“I’m not sure what the answer is to these problems but if we can’t be outside, in the front yard or backyard, and can’t have vehicles parked in the driveway, that is a large problem.”

Yoneliunas says that she has already completed over $1000 of repairs to her home, all dealing explicitly with golf ball damage and that there are still a lot more repairs to be done.

A broken window
This photo showing a broken window, broken by an off-course golf ball, was shared with council. It is just one of dozens of damages caused by balls from the St. Paul Golf Course this year.

Council debated some possible solutions, but admitted that it’s difficult to know why 2018, in particular, has been such a bad year.

“I’m wondering what could have caused such an upswing in damage this year,” Mayor Maureen Miller said. “What could have changed this year, or the last few years?”

Councillor Ron Boisvert was sympathetic to the plight of Yoneliunas and her neighbours, but also frank about the realities of living so close to a golf course.

“The golf course existed before that neighbourhood did,” he said. “It’s not as if the golf course sprung up around the houses. When you buy a house on a golf course, you expect certain things: a nice view, and damage from golf balls.”

He continued, “One way or another, there’s always a solution,” Councillor Boisvert said. “We just have to find out what it is.”

With snow on the ground and the golf season in hibernation until spring, Council agreed that nothing could be done immediately to address the problem.

In the spring, town administration will investigate the holes in question and report back to council their recommendations.

They also discussed the possibility of additional signage to warn golfers to be careful of where they aim, but no final decision was made.

JD Schmidt

JD is a reporter who works with Lakeland Connect to bring you the most reliable and honest news that he possibly can. He understands the effective combination of accurate reporting and fine journalistic writing.