Golf ball search leads adventurers to Kiwanis Park

Thursday, June 15, 2006

If people seemed to be prowling through wooded areas around Cape Rock Drive and spending more time than usual communing with nature in Kiwanis Park, that's because they were hunting for gold.

A golden golf ball to be exact. The contest, sponsored by Arena Golf and offering a free set of golf clubs and a golf bag, ended Wednesday, but not before it brought out the treasure hunter in a lot of people.

"I've spent 21 hours total looking for it," said Dave Wooldridge, who works nights at Spartech Plastics, and said the contest was his way to unwind after work. "It was a good time, seeing the clues and doing the search was fun," he said.

Cryptic clues to the ball's location were released every couple days in the Southeast Missourian starting June 4. Wooldridge said he found more than 10 other golf balls, but never the golden one. "I would definitely like a new set of golf clubs, but the whole hunt for it was more just something to do after work," he said. "When I found out it was over I just kind of laid there for a second and thought wow, I can't believe how much time I spent on this and I get nothing."

That might not be true.

After the last clue was released Wednesday at Arena Golf, participants were directed to go to Kiwanis Park and look for seven trees in a row. But the golf ball that had been nestled in the base of a split tree was gone, said the earliest responders.

No one has called yet to claim the prize. That means either someone found the ball and is just biding his or her time or a squirrel ran off with a particularly glittery nut. If the prize is not claimed by 5 p.m. today, Wooldridge and nine others who found the correct location will be entered in a drawing.

Keiki Patterson said she, her husband Kevin, their 6-year-old son, Nathan, and 9-year-old daughter, MacKenzie, all worked together to decipher the clues.

"My husband saw the first clue, and the kids decided they wanted to look for it because they all have golf clubs and mom doesn't," she said. "We love the show 'The Amazing Race.' We watch that together as a family and we looked at this as the same sort of a challenge, something we could all do together."

The Pattersons scoured Capaha Park, Dennis Scivally Park, a hiking trail across from the Cape Rock water plant, and a seldom-used nature trail before the final clue led them to Kiwanis.

"We looked all over and in the end it was right there, practically in our backyard," said Keiki Patterson.

They live on nearby Koerber Drive.

335-6611, extension 245

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