Fore! Beware of wayward golf balls.
That’s the concern of the South Pasadena City Council, recognizing that high-flying shots going sideways off the tee over a high net at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course driving range could land on individuals walking along a new trail project in the city.
Tentatively scheduled for a grand-opening ceremony on February 24, the Arroyo Seco Pedestrian and Bicycle Trail won’t officially open to the public until safety concerns on how to protect users is reached by the council.
The new trail runs about three quarters of a mile in Arroyo Park, starting at the edge of the Arroyo Seco Racquet Center, past a three-par golf course, including its driving range, toward the Los Angeles border.
“We discovered that there were golf balls flying over the net more that we anticipated,” explained South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe.
A side net, designed to keep balls inside the range, runs parallel to the new trail. However, golf balls are clearing portions of the driving range netting and landing on the trail. “We discovered they are flying over the net more than what we anticipated,” explained DeWolfe. “We felt that it was a safety issue.”
City officials are looking into a protective covering, or pergola, over parts of the trail where golf balls could become a hazard. “It would be a mesh material that would prevent golf balls from falling on the trail,” explained DeWolfe. “At this point, we’re looking at various alternatives for what designs might be for that kind of pergola, and what the costs would be.”
The city manager said city staff will continue to research protective coverings, their costs and bring the information back to council “when we have a selection of options to choose from,” she said.
During its regularly scheduled meeting on March 7, the council looked at one preliminary estimate of $581,534 to construct a safety trellis structure for protecting patrons from impact injuries.
“That was sort of a quick ballpark estimate of the high-end of what we might do in the range of $500,000, a full-width pergola that would go almost the full length of the trail and would have a Craftsman look to it,” DeWolfe said. “It’s sort of the outside edge of the most expensive option that we might look at. It still might be the best option, but we want to show council what the other choices are so they make that decision within the context of knowing there are other options.”
DeWolfe expects the issue to comeback to the council again in April.
A combination of funding sources paid for the trail, including grants, which have deadlines facing them. That issue was raised by council members during their last meeting. “We will still be able to close out those particular grants and complete the project,” assured DeWolfe. “We just have to handle the pergola as a separate project later on.”
South Pasadena City Councilmember Dr. Marina Khubesrian said the protective trail covering would run about 90 to 100 feet. “Unfortunately, it was brought to our attention somewhat late in the game that this was a hazard to pedestrians,” she said. “But once it was, we really had no choice but to address the safety issue. Staff did a trajectory study where golf balls were able to reach over the fence onto the path, even making significant indentations into the path. Obviously, we don’t want anything falling of someone’s head. That is the reason we delayed the opening and are studying different options to provide a protective covering.”
Kubesrian said funds from the original cost to construct the trail are available since the project did come under budget. “We think we’re going to be able to find a solution within our budget to address it,” she said. “We will get it resolved.”