Reward offered for help investigating Kettle Hills vandalism

The Kettle Hills Golf Course clubhouse stands in the background as a golfer tees off on the first hole Saturday, June 21.

The Kettle Hills Golf Course clubhouse stands in the background as a golfer tees off on the first hole Saturday, June 21. Photo By Dave Haberkorn

June 23, 2014

Germantown — It's par for the course, but that doesn't make it OK.

That is how Garrett Mack of Kettle Hills Golf Course said he feels about recent acts of vandalism at Kettle Hills in Richfield.

Located at 3375 Highway 167, Kettle Hills was recently the target of what Mack called a "bumper-car, golf-cart joyride" involving nine of the golf carts on the course. Damage on the course exceeded $20,000, including the totaling of six golf carts and the repair of three additional carts.

"It's heartbreaking," said Mack, who is the PGA Head Golf Professional at the course. "It's not just the damage to the golf course: when you're a golfer and respect the beauty of a golf course and someone comes out there with such carelessness and tries to ruin what other people enjoy, that's what is really disappointing."

Course superintendent Lee Suwalski was the first to notice the damage on the morning of May 11.

"It was pretty brutal," Mack said. "I'm actually surprised nobody got seriously hurt."

Three of the carts ended up submerged in the ponds throughout the course and fences and other landscaping areas were damaged as well.

"It's like they were driving bumper cars or something," said Mack. "It was pure recklessness. This is an incident where you could tell they were out to play crash up derby with these carts."

The course houses about 170 carts in an area near the golf shop that remains unlocked because, as Mack put it, "if someone wants to get to the carts, they will find a way whether the carts are locked up or not."

Though almost 200 carts may sound like a lot, there is a need for every cart on days like Wednesday, June 19, when Kettle Hills hosted the Germantown Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing. The day was cloudy, but the scenery was as beautiful as always, according to those in attendance.

"That's what makes this course unique," said Pete Sorenson, owner of Pete's Main Street Headliners in Menomonee Falls. "For them to maintain the course with the level of attention to the scenic beauty of the area is one of the things that keeps me coming back."

An avid golfer, Sorenson has played at Kettle Hills for more than 20 years in various leagues and events.

"It's really too bad to think someone would want to cause damage to such a beautiful setting," he said.

The incident coincided with the night of the Germantown High School prom, which Mack said he thinks might not merely be coincidence. The number of suspects remains unknown at this point.

"(Vandalism) like this is an ongoing issue for many golf courses," he said, "but we are definitely on high alert for this kind of thing this time of year, and alcohol and stupidity do go hand in hand."

But there was some rhyme or reason behind the prank, because Mack said it was apparent that the engines of the carts, located beneath the front seat, had been altered to allow the carts to drive at a faster speed.

"Whoever did this knew their way around a golf cart, that's for sure," he said.

An active investigation is being completed by the Washington County Sheriff's Department and Kettle Hills Golf Course will be offering a $2,000 reward for information provided leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved.

Any information can be passed along to the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

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