At first glance, Forest Rothchild blends right in on the golf course, but it doesn’t take long before he starts getting all kind of strange looks. You see, while most people try to avoid water hazards Forest loves them, in fact he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but smack in the middle of one, you see, Forest makes a living diving for golf balls.
“About three years ago, I started with them, started with literally just a handful of courses, and within three years, were up to about 135 courses right now that we oversee. We service literally from Maine all the way to Maryland,” Rothchild says. Someone’s got to do it, and as a golf ball diver, Forest works for a company out of Sugarland, Texas that last year did $45 million in sales selling refurbished golf balls under the name Reload. “You can find them in Walmart, you can find them in BJ’s, Target, Champions, Dick’s sporting goods, but primarily the number one place we sell them is on lostgolfballs.com. “The money you take home is a direct reflection of how hard and how long you want to work,” Rothchild says.
The way Forest sees it, your pain is his gain. A bad day out on the golf course for you translates into a great day at the office for him. We caught up with Forest and his assistant, Mike, at Overlook Country Club in Hollis, New Hampshire. It is an old course that hadn’t been cleaned out in a while and reaped quite a harvest. “On a decent day, we’re happy if we can pull about 3,000 balls. Today, was somewhere in the 9,000 range,” Rothchild says. Yes, all 9,000 golf balls will make their way to Texas where they are sorted, cleaned and repacked as recycled Reload balls. The Texas company pays the course and the diver 7-12 cents per ball depending on its make and condition, so the harder you work, the more you get paid. But the job requires a lot of heavy lifting. “When I fill to full capacity, that’s about 900 balls, so again at ten balls per pound, that’s a 90 pound bag right there,” Rothchild says. Murky ponds, don’t do him any favors either. “I may be able to float in the water, my hands are going to be wrist deep, sometimes elbow deep in muck, just feeling around and some of us we call it brail diving cause literally it’s just by feel, and you can not see anything as you’re working your way through the water,” Rothchild says.
So when your long drive goes a little bit off course, that ball isn’t gone forever, as long as Forest has anything to do with it. “As long as there are bad golfers, he stays in business. He will have no shortage, for some time,” says Dan Diskin, the Club Pro at Overlook Country Club.
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