My quarter found 154 golf balls in less than an hour. Here’s how we did it
Our adventure began as many modern adventures do: in the digital wild west known as Reddit.
My friend Scott has been known to miss entire afternoons on golf leads in the virtual community, and on such an occasion just two weeks ago, he hit upon a job as a golf course scavenger who used a UV flashlight to spot balls in the dark. . Likes, Lots of balls. It turned out to be something of some kind. Search for “UV light” on the golf Reddit page and you’ll find many discussions on this topic with titles like:
For my twilight friends out there, I bring a UV light for a walk and score some extra pickups.
Just went for a little walk in the dark and rain with the UV light. 31 balls with no plan and few holes
I spent 5 hours with a friend walking around our local playground and found 513 balls with UV light
That’s 171 sleeves! Scott was an inspiration, and when he shared his findings with his suburban NJ golf buddies—Dan, Matt, and I—we didn’t take long to stand in line. None of us have heard of this practice. Heck, none of us have ever heard of a UV flashlight. The device looks just like any old torch but emits ultraviolet rays – aka black light – which is useful for detecting certain substances and objects in the dark that are undetectable with the naked eye, from saliva and scorpions to olive oil and rock salt to… Yes, golf balls. When ultraviolet light captures celestial bodies, they glow like comets in the night sky.
Scott took the next sensible step, ordering two sets of Morpilot blacklights, which looked like a steal for just $18. Now, we just need a hunting ground. Almoney on the road was among us an option, but when Scott offered his club, the decision became a no-brainer: Dinner and drinks at the club bar during Thursday night football followed by a titlist trawl on the Tillinghurst track. (Important disclaimer: a shop employee gave the go-ahead for our trip. We don’t recommend nor support trespassing!)
When evening came, we were dizzy. We weren’t Lewis and Clark, but still, for four guys whose daily evenings usually revolve around bedtime stories and Netflix, an exciting expedition awaits awaits you. After stacking the wings and a few beers, we gathered in the parking lot near the first tee.
It was about 9:30 when we put our backpacks on our shoulders and took our first step. The October air was cool and fresh. After we’ve played the course hundreds of times between us, we thought we had a handle on the more famous tombs of Pinnacles and Pro V1s. “I’ve been thinking about where the hot spots are going to be,” Scott, Hannibal Smith from the assignment, texted us earlier in the week. “I think 1, 6, 14, 17, 18 with maybe 3 and 8 give some as well.”
Carrying wedges that would serve as shovels, we ventured into the great unknown.
The funny thing about walking the golf course at night: No matter how well you know the terrain, it still looks weird. The vastness of the landscape has disappeared, replaced by what is directly under your feet or lit by your light. Unfamiliarity is exciting and disturbing at the same time. As we were cruising down the first hole toward an area to the right of the fairway that we assumed was rich in balls, we soon learned we had assumed wrong. Yes, we did find balls, but almost all of them were fluorescent green scale balls that spilled from the practice area on the first hole. Frustrating start.
Between the ore and the range there is a ball-trapped trench, but this too has proven largely unproductive. This hobby may have been more difficult than the Reddit stickers would allow. As we got closer to a forest farther down the hole, where many second shots died on this par-5, it was time to put in a little more effort. Spread a few branches and manually open the lamp in the brush.
The balls took advantage almost immediately – one in front of me, two to my left, and two more like that. My fellow scavengers would look through the foliage and direct me to their own scenes. The boom was fully functional. However, I felt a degree of anxiety. I was now heading toward a backyard and behind a house, maybe 100 yards from me. I didn’t enjoy the idea of the homeowner spotting me digging in the woods, so after about a dozen discoveries, we moved on.
Then it was Scott’s turn. When we crossed the pass, he leaned and crawled into a tangle of bushes so thick that we were not sure if we would see him again. His bravery was rewarded. Although we couldn’t see Scott, we could hear him delighted with the treasure he had found. “I’m not sure if one backpack will be enough!” Scream, we all broke. When Scott showed up about 10 minutes later, his pockets full of ProV1s, we didn’t need the UV light to know it was glowing.
And the night went. Hunting, searching and laughing. repeats. Pardon the clichés but there’s no other way to say it: We just felt like kids again.
The last search and rescue came to the right of the driving area on Bar 4, in a bunch of trees where we cumulatively lost a dozen balls. It was time to strike back–and pay us the leafy ground, as many as four or five balls of balls. When our targets lit up like the glint of fireflies, our quest began to feel almost effortless.
Within an hour of work we had filled two bags. Filled, we reversed course back to the club, stopping briefly on par-3 for an impromptu chopping contest closest to the pin. (closer to a file Green color If we’re being honest.) When we got to the parking lot, everything was fine – except for one oversight. We had left one of the packs back in the par-3. Unnecessarily sloppy execution.
But just as Blackbeard never left his treasure behind, neither will we. We got into Scott’s car and drove to a neighborhood street on the edge of the pit. With houses all around us and its late, I was getting anxious again, but that didn’t stop Matt and I from slipping into the pit, collecting our bag and returning it to my Scott SUV safely.
mission accomplished? Significantly.
The next day brought up the really fun part: the inventory. I was assigned this job and I enjoyed it. I threw our catch on the garage floor and started counting: 154 balls! Some were in excellent condition, some were cracked, and many were covered in dry dirt.
The next day I put the balls in a plastic box, added some dish soap and blew them with an electric washer. This isn’t the most desirable way to clean ball bearings – I’ve ripped the soft urethane cap of no less than the Pro V1 – but it is effective.
That evening I treated the balls with extra care, hand drying each one and rubbing any remaining stains I could. Ball was at least 21 years old; I knew it from its logo (US Open 2001); Last was at least two years old (1999 US Senior Open). My favorite find: Donnay, which I previously knew was just a tennis brand. (Look at you, Bjorn Borg.) In all, we discovered balls from 19 different manufacturers. This is the breakdown:
Callaway – 40 (including 8 Chrome Softs)
Titleist – 39 (including 20 Pro V1s)
Taylor Made – 13
Kirkland – 9
Topflight – 9
Bridgestone – 8
Crickson – 6
Maxfly – 5
Fulvik – 5
Nike – 4
Pinnacle – 3
Slazinger – 3
Wilson – 2
Vice – 2
Donai – 1
pasta – 1
Snake Eyes – 1
Snell – 1
XXIO – 1
Here’s what it looks like as a bar chart, starting with Callaway on the far left:
So what now? Has the ball hunt scratch itch, or have we found a new hobby more addictive than golf itself? I am honestly not sure. What I do know is that we would like to donate the balls to a noble cause. Know of a golf organization that would benefit from our distance? Send me a message at email@example.com, and I’ll ship it out.
#quarter #golf #balls #hour #Heres