The Rev. Gerry Davis at Carrollton First United Methodist Church came up with a unique idea that took old golf balls, which had been buried in mud for more than a decade, and used them to generate nearly $5,000 for local mission work.
Davis calls it “The Golf Ball Mission Project.”
“Where I live, off Oak Grove Road, is a little road called Gold Dust Trail, in a development called Gold Mine Hills,” he said. “There used to be an old golf course located there. Whoever owned the land divided it up and sold it in five-to-10-acre tracts.
“My house sits on the tract where green number two was located,” Davis said. “My neighbor’s house backs up to the lake on the property. He wanted to do some work to make his property look better. He brought in heavy equipment and they began to scoop out the lake.
“There must have been a ‘blue million’ golf balls in that lake. I got to thinking about it, what could be done with all those golf balls?”
Davis gathered up the golf balls, by the thousands, he said, and cleaned them up so they could be sold. The ones that were in bad shape, he tossed away. But most looked good after they were cleaned up.
“We have a lot of golfers at our church and we sold the balls for $5 per dozen and raised over $300,” he said. “We took that money and gave it out in small amounts, in envelopes during service, to different church members, who used it to make more money.
“I asked them to pray about it, to ask God to give them creative ideas on how to use the money and multiply it,” he said.
He said he told the parishioners to “just pray about it and let God give you some ideas.”
Davis said nobody refused the money, and as the project made more money, the earnings were distributed to others for more fundraising ideas. Most people got envelopes with $20 to $50 in them.
“It resulted in raising $3,800,” he said. “There’s still money out and when it all comes in, we’ll have about $5,000 to be used for local mission causes.”
Davis has numerous stories of how the money was used and some of the creative ways people made money with it. One woman took the money, bought some baking supplies and baked cookies and brownies.
“She sold them and made lots of money. She got $20 and turned it into $100.”
One child used the money to set up a lemonade stand.
“One woman had figs in her yard,” Davis said. “She used the money to buy some canning supplies and sold fig preserves. From her original $20, she made well over $100.”
A man used his $40 to buy tools and supplies to clean windows and made more than $250. A woman used $20 to make jewelry which sold for $180.
“Altogether, we had 25 to 30 people getting the money and turning it around,” Davis said. “This is the kind of project we could keep going forever, but there’s other priorities and things competing for attention.”
Davis said all the money raised will go to local missions.
“There’s various mission causes our church supports,” he said. “On the list are CASA (Child Appointed Special Advocates), Open Hands Ministry, Boys and Girls Club, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Soup Kitchen and United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur, and many more.”
Davis said although he’s familiar with churches using money to make money, he’s never heard of one starting with old golf balls.
“When everything’s turned in and counted, we can all take pride in the work of so many, all for the realization that people’s lives will be affected in positive ways for the sake of Jesus Christ,” Davis wrote in a recent church bulletin. “We can rejoice that our creativity has resulted in doing things we didn’t think we could do. We give thanks to God that his blessings will continue and continue and continue, no matter what.”
Davis said when he asked one church member why he was buying new golf balls, the man replied, “I want balls that will go somewhere. I don’t want to take a chance on one that has been lying at the bottom of a lake for 20 years.”
But, in all fairness, Davis said, the man did buy some of the used golf balls, too.
“I still have lots of golf balls,” he said. “If anybody wants any, we’re still selling them.”