IKSAN, Aug. 14 (Korea Bizwire) — Despite a reported downturn in fortunes, business is booming for a select few connected to the golf course industry.
Through a combined mixture of daring, entrepreneurial spirit and lack of security oversight, small teams of “golf ball divers” are making a good living fishing for the lost balls at the bottom of water hazards, the seemingly randomly placed ponds and lakes that dot the surface of the average course.
The only question is how sustainable this practice may be, with a statement issued by the Iksan Police Department on August 11 detailing that it had opened an investigation into five suspects who were being charged with theft.
How the operation works is simple. A group of divers drive up to the outskirts of a golf course, preferably where there are no physical barricades. The ideal time for action is night, when security is nonexistent. Change into wetsuits in the car, dive in, pick up balls with hands, nets and whatever else that works.
Unload golf balls into empty basket, dive back in, repeat the whole process until the aquatic floor is devoid of white pearls. When finished, simply load up the car and drive away without a worry in the world.
This is apparently how the “diver” industry has operated under the cover of night, at least until the establishments started to catch on. One team of divers in Samcheok (Gangwon Province) claims to have amassed over 10,000 golf balls after a year of unimpeded diving.
There even seems to be a semblance of regional diving “rights” that are tacitly agreed upon between teams. There are groups of divers across large swathes of provincial areas where human presence is scarce and golfing greens are plentiful.
With practice ranges a primary resale target for the fished-out golf balls, the secondary market holds plenty of opportunity. Whether it turns into a viable industry or continues to remain as a fringe black market has yet to be determined.