Awareness necessary when walking at Foxtail
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By Mira Brody  September 20, 2013 12:00 am

Those lucky enough to have their backyards looking out into the spacious rolling green hills of Foxtail Golf Course have learned over the years to live with the risks of having one of Rohnert Park’s major amenities as their neighbor.

Aside from protecting their houses with nets or high fences, many are unaware of the hazards of stepping onto the course, whether it is to cut across a neighborhood, walk their dog or push their child in a stroller. One would definitely think twice about going for a walk though a batting cage; should golf seem like such a tame playing field in comparison?

Although the entirety of Foxtail is considered a public park space by city boundaries, the truth is that the number of people playing has risen steadily in the last few years, and golf balls flying at great distances reaching speeds of about 150 miles per hour can cause extensive damage if they hit something other then the fairways or sand traps.

“I’m pretty patient,” says Jason Widmer, who has been a member of Foxtail for three years. “A lot of people are thrown by pedestrians walking by. It doesn’t bother me except when they take their precious time getting out of the way on a busy day.”

New signs reading “Caution: errant golf balls” have been placed around the perimeters in some parts of the city, but Foxtail general manager Brad Dutler says there have always been warnings up.

“People usually are aware that there is a risk,” he says. “But we hope to inform and educate those who aren’t playing that there are golfers out here…that there is a potential that you could get hit.”

Many use the green as a short cut through D-Section; it is important in any case to stay alert and if there is a game being played nearby to step off to the side so golfers can continue their round. Although some players go simply to unwind and are patient with those out enjoying their day, some are competitive and take distractions seriously.

“I’ve come really close to hitting my ball into a group of people,” says Widmer. “If you get hit in the right spot with a golf ball…there can be serious consequences.”

In his two years as general manager, Dutler has heard of only a few reported injures on his course, but hopes to prevent any in the future.

“There’s a great opportunity there for people to come into town, looking for something else to do,” he says of how fortunate RP is to have such a neighboring resource. “We think we provide a good option for locals or visitors who are in town for a couple days.”

In order to properly utilize this public space though, golfers and pedestrians must learn to enjoy their day on the grass together by keeping themselves consistently visible and aware of their surroundings. Those who wish to use the golf course to walk with their dog or children are advised to do so at dusk, when Foxtail closes for the day.

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