The Loop

90-year-old selling collection of 70,000 golf balls for charity

June 25, 2018
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To all beleaguered golfers whose ball inventory can't keep up with their wayward trajectories, RJ Smith is the answer to your prayers.

Smith, a 90-year-old Minnesotan, has been collecting golf balls for 80 years. The "magnificent obsession," as he calls it, has netted him over 70,000 rocks, which sit in 460 milk crates in his garage. Smith began gathering this ammunition when he was an 11-year-old caddie, and—save for a military stint in World War II—he never stopped. He amasses most of his collection at Northern Hills Golf Course in Rochester, Minn., spending so much time at the property there's a bench in his honor at the third hole.

“My wife always knew where I was at,” Smith told news channel KARE 11. “I wasn't sitting in the bar.”

Smith’s pile includes thousands of logo balls from automakers, colleges and professional sports teams, with the oldest ball from 1917.

And now they could all be yours.

Smith said he was recently diagnosed with cancer, and isn't sure how far the disease has spread. He feels it's time to part with his prized trophies, telling KARE 11 his collection is for sale. Better yet, he plans on donating every penny to charity. “God has given me everything I've ever wanted in life and I've never had to ask,” he said.

Seventy thousand balls should keep the worst hack supplied for a lifetime, and Smith hopes his collection can be put to use. Although he does want to convey he doesn't feel sorry for those whose slices found his way into his possession.

“No,” he said. “You’re supposed to play on the fairway."