We received an email from Deborah S. who lives next to a golf course so that her backyard faces the course. The stray tee shot has often found its way into her yard. However, golfers have been increasingly driving into her yard looking for their ball, and when they find it they hit it. She was on the patio one day when this was happening, so Deborah pointed out that the ball was out of bounds. The player responded that it was OK since there was a “five foot easement”, meaning the ball wasn’t out of bounds unless it was five feet beyond the out of bounds stakes. Deborah, had not heard of such a thing, so she contacted us.
What Deborah has are rude, cheating golfers. It is rude to drive your cart through a private homeowner’s yard. Some homeowners would also say it is rude to even come into their yard to retrieve your ball. It is, after all, private property. However, a homeowner with no fence it likely to not mind if a player carefully retrieves an errant ball.
It is a clear violation of the rules that you can play your ball from a homeowner’s yard. The yard isn’t part of the course, and it is out of bounds. The only outcome is to pick up your ball, go back to where you last hit it, take a drop and a penalty and proceed.
We understand that in casual games, sometimes rules get bent or broken. Even in this case, don’t hit it out of someone’s yard. If you are going to break the rules, at least be polite. Pick up your ball, drop it back in bounds and hit away.
Would you appreciate it if someone brought a club to your yard and starting hitting balls off your grass or landscaping? Probably not.
So Deborah, you are correct and the golfers are wrong. What can you do? Call the pro shop, which may have limited success. You could post a sign (i.e., please don’t drive in my yard or hit your ball from my yard) and may have more success. The only way to guarantee golfers don’t hit out of your yard, however, would be to build a fence or stand in your backyard during daylight hours.
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