Shielding Virtue walkers ‘fore’ safety? BOMA listens

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen plans to reach out to Willow Creek Golf Club about providing a barrier to keep golf balls from landing on Virtue Road.

Farragut resident Marion Seaton voiced his concerns to the Board during its meeting Thursday, Sept. 22, about golf balls posing a threat to pedestrians on the walking path near Virtue Road.

“I’m here to represent the voice of the voiceless here in our community,” said Seaton, who moved from Franklin to Farragut 16 months ago. “There was an incident involving a matter of public safety — pedestrian safety, specifically.“

He related that on Aug. 20, one of his neighbors “reported to me that they had been walking along Virtue Road, with their child in a stroller, and that child was struck in the head with a golf ball.

“That golf ball, they presume, originated from tee box No. 5 at Willow Creek,” Seaton added. “The ball, fortunately, hit the stroller first before striking the child.”

He presented photos of the child’s injuries to the Board.

“The fortunate circumstance was it did not hit her in the eye,” Seaton added. “What’s odd about this particular situation is the parents, who actively use the Virtue Road pedestrian walkway, have always walked on that path, and they actually had an incident occur where the child was not hit.

“My chief concern, as a resident of Farragut, is … I walk along that path and other people walk along that path. People in our community are aware of this particular incident, so as a consequence, they have reduced the amount of pedestrian traffic on that very vital greenway.”

As for other concerns, “As we approach the opening of the Little Turkey Creek greenway, the volume of traffic along that road will be subject to potential ball strike,” Seaton said. “Now, the ball strike on this little child was pretty good evidence that a golf ball traveling at roughly 45 (mph) … can do some fairly significant damage to an individual.

“Thank God, in this particular case, this child was not irreparably damaged,” he added. “I wanted to make sure that, when I talk to members of my community again, they will have known we have presented this to the government … and whatever action we can take to help preserve and protect our pedestrians as we walk on Virtue Road be assured, in some way, shape or form.

“I’ve heard of other situations like this of golf balls traveling Virtue Road.”

Another resident, Jeanne Brykalski, said she read on the Next Door site of an incident of a woman driving along Virtue Road when a golf ball shattered her windshield.

“And (on Next Door), several other people posted on there how they had near misses, where they had been walking, driving a car or riding a bicycle,” she added.

”I think it brings up a very, very good point,” Alderman Drew Burnette said. “Can we reach out to Willow Creek and discuss the incident, even talk to Fox Den about what they do to minimize it?” he added. “Maybe there’s tee placement or placement where you’re closer to more mature trees and less likely to slice that far?”

”It probably helps to know exactly where the location was — the angle trajectory, things like that — to see if there’s a gap there,” Town administrator David Smoak said. “I know Willow Creek planted a lot of trees whenever the road construction was done. I know they take some time to grow, but certainly that’s one of the best things — natural landscape — that blocks things from going out.

“We can certainly talk to Willow Creek and talk to the parents and find out exactly where that was at,” Smoak added.

“The stroller was on the Little Turkey Creek bridge,” Seaton said. “It’s roughly 400 feet from the black tees on the No. 5 tee box.”