Sunday, June 6, 2010

So You Want to Live on a Golf Course...

It isn’t difficult to recognize why golf course living appears to be appealing. The well-maintained green space enhances the beauty of any mountain or lake view. If you play the game, proximity to the links is a tremendous convenience.

Really, what’s not to like?

Well, according to many a disgruntled golf course area dweller, there’s plenty.

If you believe what many realtors frequently espouse regarding the positive aspects and home value impact for property bordering a golf course, you probably have not experienced any of the negatives.

Yes, you might occasionally find a golf ball or two in your backyard, after it has bounced off of your house or broken a window. Because it is extremely difficult for the majority of people playing the game to make their own golf ball behave, property bordering a golf course will generally be littered with poorly struck Titleists. And yes, these projectiles are capable of inflicting serious property damage or personal injury. There is also the likelihood that the golfer in question will feel compelled to trespass on to your property to recover the golf ball.

Yes, you can expect the sound of a lawnmower to pierce the early morning peace and quiet on a daily basis. The very same green space you enjoy viewing requires significant, regular maintenance. And, because the golf course is actually a business, the maintenance occurs early in the day so as to allow the paying public an opportunity to enjoy their golf experience to the fullest. Indeed, be prepared to feel the noise.

Yes, there are people who play golf that can aptly be referred to as buffoons. These clowns will not hesitate to curse loudly at their own ineptitude, eliciting vulgarities that will likely offend those attending your child’s backyard birthday party or that barbeque with your family members. For certain, the loudmouthed filth exists and many of them play golf sans the concept of good manners. They are a small but noticeable percentage of those who play golf. So, get used to it. And remember, modern day society seems to have made an ill-conceived habit of blaming the "booze", not the "boozer".

With the intention of being a good neighbor, most golf courses will do everything they can to build good will with those living in close proximity. Endeavoring to educate customers is a daily exercise. Golf course set-up is a regular practice, positioning tee boxes in manner that should encourage golfers to aim away from bordering property. Attempting to bring together parties when an incident occurs is yet another effort most facilities will undertake. Many community developers will ensure homes are built far enough away from the playing areas to limit or completely avoid intrusion. Unfortunately, just as many developers do not.

Yet the real crux of the matter creates one burning question: whose fault is it when property damage or personal injury is incurred?

Because our society has become so litigious over the past couple of decades, it almost seems as though personal responsibility must be proven rather than accepted. Old-school maturity and simple logic would suggest that if I hit a golf ball that flies off the course and breaks a patio door window, it is I who caused the damage to occur. This seems to be pretty black and white to me.

However, there are probably a million legal minds in our society (I think their peers call them “learned friends”) who would debate this, electing to become involved to assist a client in finding a legal basis to get “off the hook” or, er, slice? (This would seem to be more about fees than it is about justice, but that is another topic for another day.)

What I cannot bend my brain around is the notion that a person would rather cough up $250 to have a lawyer defend their bad golf, instead of handing over the cash to the person whose property has been damaged? But, I digress…

Ultimately, many people can look beyond the inconveniences and enjoy the upside of golf course living. But many people simply refuse to accept the realities. It continues to baffle me when someone who chooses to build a home next to a golf course immediately begins to complain about the things they had plenty of time to research in advance. And then, come time to sell the property, these same bellyachers will shamelessly speak to prospective buyers about all of the positives in an effort to secure the most revenue they can. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

There is a simple solution to the problem, a suggestion we have all heard many, many times over the years. And that is, “Buyer Beware”.

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