Oct 28th, 2015
Lake ball diver nets $15million
Alligators? What alligators?!
Words: Tim Southwell
Fair play to them, lake ball divers have to deal – not only with murky waters and stinky fish – but also dodge sunken golf carts, dead bird skulls, alligators and – occasionally – dead bodies in pursuit of diving for lake balls. Glenn Berger has turned it into an entrepreneurial art form.
Mind you, the rewards are stacking up. 40-year-old Glenn reckons he's hoovered up more than 15 million balls over the last 14 years. He won't admit it, but that works out to about the same in hard cash – 15 milion big ones. 15 million doughnuts. 15 million dollarinies. 15 million Donald Trumps. 15 million... (Allright, we get the idea! – Ed).
He's had an alligator tangled in his diving gear, been stuck to debris at the bottom of the lake and one time he was convinced a gator was on his back. He thought his number was up, thrashed desperately to the surface and realised he'd imagined the whole thing. The mind plays tricks....
"I've had a few run ins with alligators," Glenn admits. "But it's par for the course in Florida (What? did he just? – Ed), you're going into their habitat so they're not always over the moon to see you. But I love this job, the alligators might be a hazard but it's all worthwhile.
“They'll float over me while I'm on the bottom but sometimes they’re curious – especially the smaller ones, they'll dive down and bump me on the tank just to see what I am. Scuba diving is a dangerous activity as it is but when you add no visibility, no lifeline and alligators looking for a meal it only gets worse.
“I just try to not to think about them and focus on picking up golf balls.”
Glenn – 6ft 8ins and a formidable 18st – wears a black and blue wet suit, weights and an air tank he paints in camouflage to help put the gators offf the scent.
“South Florida water hazards are like no other in the United States," says Glenn. "I’ve seen alligators, venomous cottonmouth snakes, snapping turtles and even crocodiles. It can get tense sometimes.”
No kidding, Glenn!! In his time he’s found chairs, tables, umbrellas, bird skulls, dead fish, lawn mowers and golf carts.
Glenn's company, Bustin Balls, has been going for 14 years and Prov1s can fetch up $2 per ball if in good condition.
But forget the gators and the dead bird skulls, there can be even more creepy things lurking amongst the topped Srixons.
"The golden rule is to never put your hand inside a sunken car down there," he said. "My friend did once and he touched a body."
Anyway, good luck with all this Glenn. Better you than us.
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