Art of Retrieval at Vallew View Golf Course

May 21 2012 - 6:05am

Images

NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner 
ABOVE: Dave Reese helps Dennis Reese from a water hazard while retrieving golf balls at Valley View Golf Course on Thursday in Layton. TOP: Reese goes underwater to collect a golf ball at the course. See video at www.standard.net
Dennis Reese collects a golf ball from a water hazard at Valley View Golf Course Thursday in Layton. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Dennis Reese tosses golf ball to the shore after retrieving them from a water hazard at Valley View Golf Course Thursday in Layton. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner 
ABOVE: Dave Reese helps Dennis Reese from a water hazard while retrieving golf balls at Valley View Golf Course on Thursday in Layton. TOP: Reese goes underwater to collect a golf ball at the course. See video at www.standard.net
Dennis Reese collects a golf ball from a water hazard at Valley View Golf Course Thursday in Layton. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Dennis Reese tosses golf ball to the shore after retrieving them from a water hazard at Valley View Golf Course Thursday in Layton. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)

LAYTON -- Tracking down wayward sports balls is nothing new for Dennis D. Reese and his twin brother, David L. Reese.

The 57-year-old brothers, who in their youth would chase down foul balls for the Tommy Lasorda-managed Ogden Dodgers baseball club, now don wetsuits and scuba gear to scoop out about 300,000 balls a year from golf course water hazards and abandoned brush.

"Most people wouldn't do it," Dennis said of the ponds that are nothing like swimming in a pool.

His brother agrees.

"It's a filthy place. You wouldn't want to be uncovered," he said of the need to wear full body wetsuits.

Besides, this time of year the water hazards are often filled with cold mountain runoff.

Despite the challenges, the Reese brothers recently signed a contract with Davis County to remove golf balls from the water hazards at Valley View Golf Course in Layton.

The Reeses, who work out of Salt Lake City under the company name DLR, LLC., were at the 18-hole Layton course diving for balls May 9 and 10.

The two have similar agreements with about 10 other Top of Utah courses.

DLR pays Valley View 5 cents for every ball they retrieve from their ponds. The balls are then sold to companies that refurbish them, marking some to be used as range balls.

"It's much like a golf ball-recycling business," said Dennis, who has more than 10 years of diving experience.

On occasion, the Reeses will list the golf balls they find in mint condition for direct sale over the Internet, where there is a large demand for them.

"The one thing the United States does export is used golf balls," David said.

The brothers caution that diving for golf balls, which on occasion has netted them some golf clubs -- apparently thrown into the water by frustrated golfers -- is not as glamorous as it sounds. They wade through brown, murky water in search of their treasure.

"We're just business people that see an opportunity and want to do it," Dennis said. He has spent up to 12 hours clearing some courses of its abandoned golf balls.

"We try to do our courses regularly, so that we get better quality balls," David said.

"One or two months (for the balls to be in the pond) is one thing, one to two years is another," Dennis said.

The Reeses will visit the Layton course, where there always are many quality balls to be retrieved, two or three times during the year.

But pond diving at Valley View, a course with about a dozen water hazards, poses challenges even for experienced divers.

Some of the water hazards on the course have large frog populations and are very cold, particularly those that are 12 to 14 feet deep, Dennis said.

Some of the water hazards also have sheer banks, making it difficult to get out of the ponds without help from a partner, he said.

Also working against the divers is the general murkiness of the pond water, which makes it difficult to see the balls on the bottom. To find balls in the murkier ponds, the Reeses feel around the bottom with their feet and hands.

"If it moves, you don't put it in your sack," Dennis said.

Because of Utah's weather-shortened golf season, Dennis Reese travels to warmer states to work.

At a single golf course in Alabama, he and a friend retrieved 10,000 golf balls, Dennis said.

Generally at the Utah courses, a couple of sacks full of golf balls might be considered a successful day. However, the pair once pulled 8,000 golf balls in one outing from a St. George golf course.

For years the Reese twins have pulled golf balls from the Valley View course, said Dustin Volk, Valley View head professional.

But as of May 1, to protect the county from being exposed to liability should the Reeses become injured or, worse, drown in one of their ponds, Volk said, for the first time they have an agreement in place with the golf-ball retrievers.

However, the agreement the Reeses have with the county does not include service at the county-owned and operated Davis Park Golf Course in Kaysville.

The water hazards on the Davis Park course have been drained, Volk said, eliminating the need for the Reeses' services there.

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