Giant golf ball sign’s removal sparks controversy over ownership

Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 5:25 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Some Watertown lawmakers aren’t laughing at an apparent April Fool’s Day prank involving an oversized golf ball.

The golf ball sign on the grounds of the former Watertown Golf Club was a staple at Thompson Park. But now it’s just a patch of dirt after former owner Mike Lundy removed it last week.

“It’s not like was cemented in. It was just sitting on a tee as a display,” said Lundy.

The ball resurfaced in front of Ives Hill Country Club on Saturday. Lundy says it was an April Fool’s joke.

This apparent joke gained momentum on social media with City Council Member Cliff Olney creating and posting a picture of the giant golf ball sign in front of Ives Hill.

He photoshopped Council Member Sarah Compo Pierce and Mayor Jeff Smith in front of it with a caption saying “We’ve been punk’d.”

The city paid $3.4 million for the golf course. Compo Pierce and Smith were against the purchase.

During Monday night’s city council meeting, Smith raised the issue over ownership of the sign.

“This was a structure on the property and should have gone with the property. We should get it back,” the mayor said.

Lundy says a February 2 meeting with City Manager Ken Mix proves it’s his to keep.

Lundy says when he met with Mix after closing on the property, they discussed the golf ball and Mix said it didn’t adhere to city code. In response, Lundy says it wasn’t on the asset list so he believes he owns it.

Mix wouldn’t comment about it Tuesday, saying it’s an issue the city attorney and Lundy will work out.

The city attorney didn’t return our call.

Mayor Smith was also concerned that the golf ball sign violated the city’s sign ordinance.

Ives Hill owner P.J. Simao emailed city codes and said if there’s a fine, he’ll pay it. An email back from codes said it was there for a matter of hours and no citations will be given.