Last week, Tiger Woods won it all during the Masters at Augusta National. This week, fans will pack the RBC Heritage to watch some of the best golfers in the world during the PGA tour. And next week, Belfair in Bluffton will play host to the best club professionals from around the nation.
And Doug Coupe is maybe the nation’s best too. Not as a golfer, but as a collector: of golf balls.
“Now you are going to see either a very sick man or a guy with too much time on his hands.”
If you walk upstairs in Coupe’s, you go into the “ultimate man cave’. The walls of the attic are covered in golf balls. Then, one room takes you into another, then another. All, full of the round, white balls.
There is seemingly no end to doug’s collection. Categorized and alphabetized.. There are 15,000 in all in his collection which started 20 years ago at a little course in Vermont.
“A lot of balls would end up in the river so I would go and pick them up” says Coupe. “If they had a logo then I’d thrown them in a bucket.”
That bucket morphed into thousands. “Somebody said Doug, do you have them all cataloged and I said no and frankly I don’t think I’d have the patience to do that.” Coupe went on to say ‘You can run a borderline issue where something could morph into what might be called a job. This is certainly recreation.”
85% of his golfballs were found by Doug or his wife Vivian, but now friends like to get in on the act too.
Coupe said “Somebody might bring me 20 balls and I might know that 15 of them I don’t have but 5 of them I do have.” Coupe also says “We had friends travelling in Russia and they played the course Gorki. So they got me a ball from Russia.”
And even among the thousands that line the walls, it’s easy for Doug to pick his favorite. “Bushwood Country Club, Caddyshack. If you have a favorite ball, it might as well be from Caddyshack.”
And what golf collection is complete without a putting green. All part of Doug’s very large labor of love.
But, Doug isn’t just focused on himself and his collection, he also started a program at Belfair where people give him their used clubs and he donates them back to local military members, so they can use them there or while on deployment. But, they do have to find their own golf balls.