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Pictured above are the chaise longue I was sitting in late yesterday afternoon (as I read the newly-arrived issue of the New York Review of Books) and the golf ball that came to rest next to me. I took the picture just now, and Emma decided to follow me out, so she got into the picture too.

As you may know, we live alongside a golf course. Our property abuts the 9th fairway, visible in the background on the photo above. From the teebox, we are about 200 yards down the fairway (north), on the right as one looks down the fairway from the tee. The marking on a golf course sprinkler head that is on the golf course side of the property line indicates that the green lies another 248 yards farther north from our house, with a bit of a dogleg to the left. (The sprinkler is just past the cedar pictured in the upper left of the photo.) The fairway slopes sharply down from right to left by our house, so a golfer will generally want to drive to the right side of the fairway in order to have a view from a higher level towards the green for the second shot rather than hitting a blind shot to the green from the valley. Thus, when a golfer who is already aiming right drives too far right, the ball is likely to land in our yard, on our house, or in one of the trees protecting our house.

We get hundreds of balls a year this way. Some are so badly sliced that they hit the far side of our house and land on the front lawn, but this is uncommon. The scariest are those that whiz by on their way to the neighbor’s yard to the north, powerfully hit but just off line, as opposed to ones a less powerful golfer (older men, women) might hit that land softly in our yard. We’ve lived here since November 1993. The most dangerous ball arrived the following summer. We were dining outside with friends, using our then-new outdoor furniture, when a ball came through so fast and so level that we didn’t see it but just heard the whoosh as it went through our air space just 2 or 3 feet behind our ears. It crashed through the hedge about 40 feet past us and bounced into the northern neighbor’s yard.

But yesterday was the closest hit ever. There I was, minding my business, when I heard a crack as a ball hit the bark of the towering maple in our yard to the south. I then heard it work its way through the branches, hitting leaves, seemingly coming farther north towards the patio as it descended. I didn’t know what to do. I looked up and back, but couldn’t see it. So I put my hand over my head as makeshift protection and awaited my fate. In a moment, I heard it land close to me on the patio and roll to a stop. I looked left, where I think it landed, but it must have rolled under the chaise to the right. When I stood up to find it, there it was. It couldn’t have missed me by more than a foot. Then again, even if it had hit me, it would have done so softly. The heat had dissipated as it worked its way through the tree. Still, pretty exciting.

By the way, the article I was reading at the time was Jonathan Freedland’s review of David Vine’s book Island of Shame: The Secret History of the US Military Base on Diego Garcia. I recommend it.

Categories: House, Sports
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