The gauntlet

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While driving in the car, walking, or biking on Braddock Road, near Little River Turnpike, do not be surprised to hear, Fore! or Look out!

Those shouts will most likely be warnings of little, hard, white missiles headed in your direction and if you know whats good for you, hands will cover the head or, if you are in the unfortunate traffic jam and must watch as your windshield will surely become cracked, call your lawyer as the ball descends on its target.

Su Jewell of Springfield did not call her lawyer, but has been motivated by multiple incidents to finally contact the press. Her efforts in the past five years have proved futile and her many letters have been received and answered by empty, or half-hearted promises and efforts, she said.

Jewell must daily pass the Pinecrest Golf Course to get to work in Arlington as she either bikes or drives to the office. On Jan. 28, 2002, her car was struck by a wild golf ball from the 9th tee. The tall, Leland Cypress Evergreens along the course border were not enough to shield her, Jewell said in her letter to the Fairfax County Park Authority.

No action was taken by the park authority.

Then, in July of 2006, Jewell was riding her bike on the path when she heard, Fore! and saw an airborne golf ball swing high and wide in her direction.

It hit the ground just a few feet away from me, Jewell said. If I had been going a little faster or hadnt stopped, I could have been hit.

Another time, a ball rolled past her car while she drove on Braddock Road.

History of errant golf balls
Upon further investigation, The Times found that the Pinecrest Community Association has been struggling with errant golf balls since both the course and the more than 1,500 surrounding homes were built in unison in 1985. At one area of the community, along Cypress Point Road., a good portion of the houses have been dented and scarred.

Ive almost been hit by a couple of balls, said Lucy Renault, who routinely inspects the area for the Pinecrest Community Association. Two weeks ago I was in the back of Cypress Point (Rd.) and I had a golf ball come within inches of my face.

But, said Jewell, it is one thing when a person chooses to live next door to a golf course and entirely another when innocent bystanders must dodge golf balls while driving, biking or walking on Braddock Road.

The park manager, Peter Furrey, agreed with Jewell, and wrote her last September in an email, saying that barriers in the form of Leland Cypress trees would be planted in October.

There are still wide gaps between the course and Braddock Rd., with one exception. In a formerly gapped area there are three baby Leland Cypress trees, which, according to www.lelandcypress.com, may take more than five years to grow to their full height.

Park authority spokesperson Judy Pederson, said that the hole was constructed poorly and that the park authority was ready to talk with the Pinecrest Community Association to determine successful options.

Pedersen said that results of a trajectory study showed that putting up netting along the Braddock Rd. border would not successfully keep balls from hitting cars.

It is logical, then, to assume that if high nets do not work, then neither would trees as barriers.

A third option would be to move the teeing areas.

We have considered that, said Pedersen. Thats a pretty expensive alternative. It also may only move the problem to another location.

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