ROCHESTER, Minn. — For 80 years, a Minnesota man has pursued his "magnificent obsession" -- collecting golf balls. Now, 90-year-old RJ Smith is ready to sell his stash of roughly 70,000 balls, KARE reported.
“I don’t want any of the money,” said the Rochester resident, who will donate any money he makes to charity.
Smith was diagnosed with cancer three months ago and is awaiting further tests. In the meantime, he decided to sell his collection, the television station reported.
Smith's collection is stored in 460 milk crates stacked in his garage, KARE reported. His oldest golf ball dates to 1917, and no two golf balls are alike. The collection includes thousands of logos from college and professional sports teams, plus balls stamped with the names of automakers and other advertisers, KARE reported.
Smith collected his first ball when he was an 11-year-old caddie. Except for a stint in the military during World War II, Smith has pursued his hobby, the television station reported.
He has never paid for a ball, simply hunting them down in the roughs and hazards at Rochester's golf course. He calls those areas his office, KARE reported.
“He'll come in and get a cart, ‘I'm just heading to my office quick, hold my messages,’” said Mike Manahan, the pro at Northern Hills Golf Course in Rochester.
"My wife always knew where I was at," Smith told KARE. "I wasn't sitting in the bar.
“I couldn’t get her off the golf course and she couldn’t get me on to play with her,” Smith said. “So, I’d just go hunting golf balls while she played.”
But now the time has come to part with his collection, and Smith has no regrets.
"God has given me everything I've ever wanted in life and I've never had to ask," he told KARE.