Any good golfer knows it takes just the right swing to hit the ball exactly where you want it on the golf course.

“That was my best shot from across the water to shot about three feet from the hole,” said Roger Smith, a golfer at Braeside Golf Club in Rockford.

He says he can’t imagine someone or something coming along and swiping his ball away.  But that is exactly the risk Smith and other golfers face at Braeside ever since foxes there started stealing players golf balls.

“The golf course superintendent started to notice that there were more and more fox sightings about three or four weeks ago, and they started getting aggressive stealing golf balls — I’d say about two weeks ago,” said Jeff Thiessen, the general manager at Braeside.

He says that while some clubs have problems with gophers or moles, he admits the foxes’ nuisance is a bit more unusual.

“The other day I was playing, standing on the third green looking back at the group on the fairway. The guys hit their tee shot off of three, short par four and the ball bounced and rolled into the middle of the fairway. And a fox just came running from behind a tree, grabs it and just takes off running in the other direction,” he said.

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Thiessen believes the fox like to toy with the golfers.

“A little bit. It’s funny they will walk right up. The other night we were playing again and we had one walk right up I mean it was probably 10 feet away just looking at us. Most people should just laugh about it. There are a couple of guys I know it’s happened to them a couple of times and they are started to get annoyed.”

He says the mischievous guys are busiest in early morning or late evening hours and hang out on holes 12 through 16.

Braeside member Brenda Peet says she’s run into the foxes all the time.

“At the beginning of the season there was a mom and three babies and we saw them out all the time on number 12,” she said. “It walks around the players don’t even affect it. It just minds its own business.

So far, no one can figure out what their strange fascination is all about.

“They steal the balls huh. I think that’s kind of funny. They look like dogs I’ve seen a couple of them. I’ll watch for them,” laughed Neal Braesure, who spent a sunny afternoon golfing with his friend.

After learning about the situation, Smith kept this eye out for any signs of the animals.

“Maybe we will see a fox yet,” he said. “It is interesting. Foxes don’t lay eggs. Maybe they think it is an egg. I don’t know.”

Most of the golfers on the course found humor in the fox “problem.”

Kirk Maynard of Ada said, “If they steal my ball…the way I’m playing today it would probably help me out a little bit.”

However, Smith’s wife Shirley who is responsible to tracking his score raised a very important question.

What do you do? Do you take a stroke penalty if you loose the ball? She asked. “I imagine you do don’t you but just blame it on the fox.”

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