Douglaston residents ready for legal action to combat property damage from rogue golf balls

Photo by Jenna Bagcal/QNS

Residents who live next to the Douglaston Park Golf Course said that their complaints to community and city agencies about their property damage have fallen on deaf ears.

Bob Burns and Raymond Hublall who live on Commonwealth Boulevard complained that errant golf balls that flew from the neighboring course were costing them thousands of dollars in damages. Back in November, the residents explained that in order to remedy the problem, the golf course operator had to move the 18th hole tee box, which sits about 20 feet from the street, to a lower elevation area.

The residents said that another solution would be to install higher netting at the municipal golf course. Currently, there are 75-foot nets that separate the golf course from Commonwealth Boulevard.

Despite making multiple complaints to the Parks Department and Community Board 11, residents said that their problems persist. Since talking to QNS five months ago, the residents said that no additional safety measures had been installed to protect their property.

“Parks and the golf concessionaire have made several adjustments to the course in recent years in an effort to minimize errant golf balls. The netting around the 18th hole is 75 feet high — that’s about 25 feet taller than typical course netting. At this time, it’s not feasible to raise the height of the netting beyond 75 feet, and there is no funding allocated to extend the length of the netting,”  said Parks Department spokesperson Meghan Lalor.

QNS learned that back in 2004, the course operator hired a golf course designer to move the 18th hole tee box to address the issues. In 2014, Parks installed the current netting along the 18th hole and the course operators once again moved the tee box.

Hublall reported that the 75-foot nets are taken down every winter while golfers continue to play in non-snowy conditions.

Hublall said that the nets come down every December and go back up during the first or second week of April. But there is still a section of the course that never has nets.

Last Saturday, the homeowner said an errant ball flew out of the course and struck and broke a window on his house.

District Manager Joseph Marziliano told QNS last November that the errant golf balls have been an ongoing problem for years.

“The Community Board advocated for capital funding that saw the Parks Department extend the netting higher adjacent to the golf course in recent years. Unfortunately, the problem persists. Community Board 11 remains committed to finding a solution to this problem and finding relief for our neighbors,” Marziliano said in a statement.

On Monday, April 1, Burns spoke on the issue at the monthly community board meeting.

“It’s at a very intolerable point right now. There’s a tee box on the 18th fairway, about 20 feet off the road,” said Burns. “[Balls] go over the nets [and] hits our houses, breaks our windows.”

He said that it cost $8,000 to replace his roof shingles and the flying golf balls also dented the aluminum siding of his home, hit his cars and hit him and his neighbors.

“We’re tired of it. We want the Parks Department to do something; we want them to move the tee box about 100 yards. We’ve had enough. I’m there over 20 years. It’s gotta stop,” Burns said.

Burns and Hublall said that they were in the early stages of taking legal action against the golf course. Hublall said that he spoke to a lawyer and was trying to find the agreement that the golf course has with the city.

The property has been in operation as a golf course since 1927. In 1962, the city purchased the former privately owned North Hills Golf Course and opened the Douglaston Park Golf Course in 1963.

QNS reached out to the golf course and is awaiting a response.