I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that most of you have never played golf above a cemetery. Maybe you’ve walked past a golf course and seen how peaceful the landscape is, with its beautiful trees and manicured expanse of grass and/or been lucky enough to play a round on it. Maybe you’ve visited old cemeteries and been struck by the size of the property. But, combining the two uses of grassy knolls is unusual.
Occasionally I play a round at a local public course that sits right next to a very crowded small cemetery. The 7th hole runs along the edge of an older section of grave sites and while separated by a row of tall shrubbery, errant golf balls do fly through the gaps in foliage.
Do lost golf balls plopping on the graves bother the forever-resting occupants? Do golfers leave the wayward balls to the dearly departed, so that no footsteps ever fall on the burial ground? I know a few guys who see the little white sphere traveling above the headstones and take out another golf ball right away. No attempt to retrieve said lost ball. They take a mulligan for the shot and play on. If a little kid sat behind the bushes and tossed the ball back from the cemetery (while staying hidden) I think the guys might run off the course and never return. 😉
Recently, in Chastain Park (Atlanta, Georgia) it was discovered that a section of the golf course actually sits right above an old potter’s field graveyard.
Watch the video here:
There is a possibility that wildflowers will be planted on the turf above the graves, allowing the permanent residents some peace and a bit of respect they might not have had in a forgotten potter’s field. There is no plan to disturb the graves.
Just in case you think it’s weird to combine a golf course with a cemetery, however accidental, here’s a bit of insider golfer information:
Many, and I mean MANY, avid golfers would love to have their ashes spread on their favorite golf course, and have even picked out the hole upon which they’d like to spend eternity. Maybe it’s the hole with a great view of the countryside; maybe it’s the place where they first hit a hole-in-one or won a bet. I’ve yet to sink a hole-in-one, so my choice would be somewhere around the green with a great view.
There are so many of these dedicated players all over the world that some large golf courses have regulations specifically dealing with the issue:
– what day of the week the scattering is permitted
– fees that may be required in order to gain access
– who is allowed to do the scattering (a company that specializes in this event or the actual grieving person)
– where on the course the ashes can ‘rest’
Why do the powers-that-be care? Cremated remains are not all like small grains of sand. In the mix are pieces of bone, irregular in shape, unless they’ve been ground after cremation. Soooo…while the golf course managers may permit the scattering, they might have a concern about people dumping an urn full of ashes into a sand trap or on a tee box or (gasp) anywhere on a green.
Do you have a relative that wants to overlook the 8th green in perpetuity? Tell him/her to look into the policies at the chosen resting place. And tell him/her to figure out who is supposed to do the scattering. And what to do if there’s snow on the ground. Uncle Joe or Aunt Mae may have to wait a bit on somebody’s mantle until the spot at the golf course is ready for occupancy.
For a bit more information about the graves under Chastain Park, click on the link.
*Photos by Patti Phillips