HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Along a stretch of Chamberlayne Avenue in Lakeside there is not a clubhouse or caddie in sight. But to Pete Brooks, his backyard oasis might as well be Pebble Beach or Pinehurst.
Pete’s playing days are far behind him. But the 78-year-old golfer never really left the sport.
He spends his days knee-deep in dimples.
“If I have nothing to do I come out here and clean golf balls,” Pete said.
Boxes and boxes of used balls fill his shed.
Pete is finding a little green in what golfers lose refurbishing and reselling. From Top Flight to Titelist, prices range from a dime to a dollar.
At Pa’s Dogs and Ma’s Burgers, they sell more than breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
“We’re slinging Mr. Pete’s golf balls,” restaurant owner Melody Walden said. “He has golf balls for sale. We have 18 for 20.”
“When we met him eight years ago he was selling them then and he is still selling them today,” Richard Walden added.
Pete’s golf balls are as popular as the daily special.
“You’d be surprised at how many golfers show up that know Mr. Pete,” Melody said.
The restaurant is also a chip shot from where Pete’s life nearly ended.
Sixty years ago, a then 18-year-old Pete was strolling along Brook Road.
“Mr. Pete was hit by a car, actually two cars from what I understand. When he was walking to work,” Melody said.
Pete would spend seven months in the hospital.
The crash left him with life-long scars on the inside and out. His destination that day was Lakeside Park Club. A golf course where Pete toiled on and off for 40 years.
“The golf course gave him a job and gave him his life. That is all he knows. He took care of the course till the day he retired,” Richard said.
Former colleague Lindsay Cooper Junior misses his presence.
“Pete! I miss him like my shadow on a sunny day,” Lindsay said. “My friendship with Pete is like a brotherhood.”
But Pete can’t stay away from the course for too long. When his collection of lost balls runs low, he can always depend on a call from friends at LPC to replenish his supply.
“Pete was coming to get his golf balls. Pete loves some golf balls,” Lindsay said. “Just about every ball looks like a brand new ball once he cleans them.”
He no longer plays, but Pete is still in the game. Taking a swing at a side hustle where Pete Brooks’ work ethic is never under par.
“I am the luckiest woman in the world, besides my husband, to know Mr. Pete and to have been blessed with his friendship,” Melody said.
Brooks estimates that he has refurbished and sold close to a half-million used golf balls over the last 10-plus years.
When he wasn’t at the golf course Pete enjoyed spending much of his free time at the bowling alley where he won many a tournament.
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