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Errant golf balls make residents nervous

North Glendale residents on La Crescenta Avenue say they are being pelted by golf balls from Oakmont Country Club. Some fear an accident could occur soon.

June 19, 2012|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • Neighbors Edward Bash and Suzie Nelson hold a bucket of golf balls that have been hit from Oakmont Country Club onto their side of the street.
Neighbors Edward Bash and Suzie Nelson hold a bucket of… (Roger Wilson / Staff…)

Living on the edges of a recently renovated 18-hole golf course might seem like the pinnacle of home ownership, but errant golf balls in one North Glendale neighborhood are sending some running for cover.

Residents in the 3200 block of La Crescenta Avenue, which demarcates the northeast perimeter of the Oakmont County Club golf course, said they have been encountering the occasional golf ball for years.

They also maintain that the incidents of wayward balls have increased dramatically since the course underwent a $4.7-million renovation in 2009, resulting in smashed car windows and near misses of students walking to and from nearby Fremont Elementary School.

Now, they say they've had enough.

“They could put in super tall trees for all I care, as long as it shields our people, namely our children, and our cars and our homes,” said Suzie Nelson, a La Crescenta Avenue resident and Fremont parent.

She finds golf balls in her yard, on the parkway, on the sidewalk and in the gutter. Once, she said, a ball flew into an interior atrium in her home, smashing a glass and startling the family turtle.

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Oakmont officials noted that the fencing along La Crescenta Avenue, which is roughly 10 feet high in some sections and 30 feet high in another, is the most substantial of any on the course. Chris Westhoff, a longtime member and chairman of the club's legal committee, said most neighbors prefer minimal screening so as to maintain a clear view of the greens.

The few balls that do end up in yards represent a tiny percentage of those struck at the course, which hosts more than 35,000 rounds of golf each year, Westhoff said.

Founded in 1922, Oakmont Country Club predates many of the homes in the area, he added.

“There hasn't been a single claim of physical injury from a single golf ball ever leaving Oakmont,” Westhoff said. “We just don't know of any.”

Still, some neighbors say that with the street heavily trafficked by elementary school students and their parents during morning drop-off and afternoon pickup, it is only a matter of time. In a letter to Fremont Elementary School Principal Christin Walley, Jane Greninger recounted walking her son Jackson to the family car, parked on La Crescenta Avenue, at the end of a school day.

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