EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 19, 2013

Ideas needed: Owner of golf range wants to find uses for retired gold balls

METHUEN — Behind Dave Kazanjian’s golf center and athletic apparel store sits a white trailer. It holds around 30 years worth of a critical component of his business: golf balls. More specifically, out of service golf balls. Thousands and thousands of them.

Kazanjian, owner of Whirlaway Sports Center on Merrimack Street, and his brother began saving golf balls in the 1980s after they expanded the driving range to a double-deck enclosure with heating units to allow the dedicated golfer to swing all winter long.

So what do you do with a trailer full of golf balls? Kazanjian doesn’t want to throw them away, for environmental reasons – “I don’t think they break down,” he said Friday – and for practical reasons. Maybe someone else could do something with them.

So he suggested donating some of them to nonprofits and to people trying to raise money. In the month since he made that suggestion, he got several emails from nonprofits pitching ideas. He was away earlier this month and has not yet been able to reach out to many of them, but several jumped out.

One in particular is an organization in Providence, R.I. called Button Hole that works with disadvantaged children from urban areas.

“It appeals to me because it’s helping kids,” he said.

“When I was in high school, someone in town stepped up and made a donation that helped send me and a teammate out to nationals,” said Kazanjian, who ran track. The national meets were in Bloomington, Ind., and Longview, Wash.

Button Hole founder Edmund M. Mauro raised money to build the program on 26 contaminated acres in Providence near a couple housing projects in 2001. Since then, Button Hole has had about 15,000 kids through its six-week program, which teaches golf rules and etiquette along with discipline, patience and perseverance, said Marguerite Brown, director of development at Button Hole. Last year, 2,600 kids participated on the program, most of them with full or partial scholarships. Kids who complete the course get a card for $1 bucket of balls or $1 round of golf until they turn 18 to keep them involved.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Merrimack Valley

Eagle-Tribune News Videos
Photos of the Week