Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 27, 2002 · Page 38
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 38

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Indiana, Pennsylvania
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Sunday, October 27, 2002
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Page 38
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E-2 — Sunday, October 27, 2002 LEISURE: HOME (gazette Green with envy Die-hard golfers jump at the chance to just putt around in the back yard By DANIEL J.VARGAS Houston Chronicle HOUSTON — If he so desires. Rick Trevino can roll out of bed, fix a steaming cup of Java, open the back door and walk about 20 feet to a slice of lush, green turf and take up his favorite pastime in his pajamas. In fact, he can do this anytime he feels like it. More than a year ago, the 45-year- old golfer treated himself to a generous gift not many people have: a backyard putting green. Feeling a little green with envy? Trevino first saw the putting green at a home show, but when he saw a neighbor's and how well it blended into the landscape, his jaw dropped. "Wow," he thought. "Immediately, I fell in love with it," Trevino says. "The thought of just being able to go into your own back yard to do some putting was amazing-" So he shelled out more than $4,000 for one. Because he has a pool, he was able to squeeze in only a 350-square-foot green. "If it were up to him, my entire yard would be a putting green," says his wife, Linda Trevino. Basketball and tennis courts have long been recreational, backyard fixtures, but now comes the less physically demanding and increasingly popular putting green. Golfers — novices and seasoned players alike say 44 percent of the score is the short game — chipping, pitching and putting. With this you can increase your confidence level and get a feel for the putting green so much you eliminate three-putts." — Joe Kilpatrick, owner of Gulf Turfs — are hoping to improve their short game and have a little relaxing fun without leaving home. For this kind of luxury item, disposable income is a must. That, or a home improvement loan — which a putting green qualifies for. Prices start from $3,000 to $4,000. For $5,000 to $10,000 golfers can get a perfectly nice putting green, but some have spent as much as $85,000. According to the National Golf Foundation, golf participation in 2001 increased by 1.6 percent over the previous year, bringing to 25.8 million the number of U.S. golfers. Despite the economic downturn, golf spending also grew last year — up to more than $23 billion and another $26 billion in golf travel. So spending a few grand for a backyard putting green isn't so hard for golfers to swallow. "Golfers are always thinking about new things to buy, such as different (golf club) drivers," Rick Trevino admits. Although the major golf associations don't track the numberof backyard putting greens throughout the country, they are aware of their growing popularity. "It's something that's a growing trend," says Tony Hourston, spokesman for the American Society of Golf Course Architects. "What we're finding is people wanting to work on their short game without having to go out and wait in line at a golf facility to hit balls." The vast majority of residential putting greens are made of artificial surfaces, not real grass, and require minimal maintenance. Joe Kilpatrick, owner of Golf Turfs, says the synthetic grass needs no watering, mowing, irrigation system or fertilizer. You might find an occasional weed, but it should pull out easily. To chase away leaves and other debris, grab a leaf blower. His company uses Fieldturf, a syn- thetic grass with freeze-dried rubber and sand infill — the same product used by the Houston Texans on their practice fields. Kilpatrick has yet to see fire ants set up home on the turf, and it can withstand the most active of rugrats and pets. "They're really kid-proof," he says. "We've had kids with bicycles and skateboards on them. Of course, we don't recommend or encourage it." Fieldturf isn't the only product used for putting greens. There are about 30 to 40 different turfs on" the market. Kilpatrick's product takes four to 10 days to install, depending on size. Once it's installed, you can'begin playing right away. With real grass, he says, you have to wait 30 to 60 days, and that can be tortuous. The majority of Kilpatrick's customers have homes worth half a million dollars or more, but he's also getting interest from people with more modest home values and incomes. He recently installed a 300-square- foot putting green in a man's back yard for about $3,000. His average installation is from 800 to 1,200 square feet and costs from $5,000 to $15,000. "They say 44 percent of the score is the short game — chipping, pitching and putting," Kilpatrick says. "With this you can increase your .confidence level and get a feel for the putting green so much you eliminate three-putts." Some greens are given as gifts. A group of family and friends chipped in and bought a newlywed couple one for $8,000. One birthday gift from wife, to hubby cost about $26,000. Ann Griffin took the blueprints for the green and brochures, wrapped them in a box and gave it to her husband, Dale, as a present for his 44th birthday in July. She couldn't very well surprise him with a 1,200-square-foot green in the back yard and not have him notice. "I use it more than my husband," Griffin admits. "It's probably more of a gift to myself." Kilpatrick can put in one to two cups per 100 square feet of green, he says. It can be laid out with fringe and rough to chip and pitch. Buyers can also request sand traps and grass bunkers. Some greens even have a hitting cage, which allows players to practice driving. Contours and breaks are made to the owner's specifications, as is the speed of the green, which is typically between eight and 10 on the Stimp- meter, he says. Sam Golden says having a putting green helped his daughter lower her handicap from a 10 to a 3. She is now attending the University of North Texas as a freshman on a golf scholarship. He says his daughter spent countless hours working on her short game. Gold en's younger daughter is also a golfer and is on her high school goif team. "The kids use the green more than us," he says, adding that he travels a lot for work. "My game would be a lot better if I used it more." His green is about 625 square feet with six cups. "You can just about duplicate any putt you want," Golden says. He says his green is 2 years old and in excellent condition. "It's held up very well. I don't regret getting it for a moment." Even if you aren't serious about golfing, having a putting green is great for the family or for special occasions, owners say. "You don't have to be a pool shark to play pool," Kilpatrick says. "And you don't have to play golf to play on a putting green." So don't be surprised to see guests, who've never picked up a club, trying to chip and putt away. Just don't laugh when they miss. Trevino, who has been golfing for seven years, says he's still enamored with his green. "I've knocked a few strokes from my game," he says, adding that his score is now in the low 90s. The family dog loves it, too. The Trevinos' dachshund, Simon, uses the green to stretch out and soak up some sun. His game hasn't improved, but he's happy with his new favorite lounging spot. And a pricey one at that. HOUSE OF THE WEEK CONSUMER CORNER 'Magical' vacation retreat Looking at the Topeka, the word "magic" springs to mind. But it's actually quite real and functional. The steeply pitched gables and intricate detailing of this Gothic revival home are so fascinating you'll want to run your eyes over all of its various embellishments for a long time, just as guest designer Rodney Pfotenhauer intended. With a compact 1,000 square feet of living area, this home is well-suited to the needs of singles or small families. It also makes a delightful mother-in-law cottage or vacation home. Graceful turned posts support both porches. One shelters the front entry, and the other is on the side, assessed via the living room. Either porch is a great location for suspending an old- fashioned cushioned porch swing for summer use. Entering, you step into the dining room, which is partially open to both the kitchen and the living room. A bathroom complete with shower nestles into an alcove just around the corner, convenient to all of the ground floor rooms. A fireplace warms the vaulted living room, which is two stories high at its apex. Light spills in through one large multipaned window on the ground level, plus two on the upper level that fill most of the triangular wall spaces on either side of the chimney. The remaining main floor room could he used as a bedroom, home office, hobby room or whatever suits. Its boxed bay window can be built with window seats at both ends, or left open. It's a pleasant place for a desk or sewing machine. Laundry appliances are upstairs, along with the Topeka's master suite. Amenities here include a spacious bathroom, walk-in closet, and cozy window seats. For a review plan, including scaled floor plans, elevations, section and artists conception, send S25 to Associated Designs, 1100 Jacobs Drive, Eugene, OR 97-402. Specify the Topeka 42012 and include a return address when ordering. A catalog featuring more than 350 plans is available forSlS. HANDYMAN Sdfcfl Vaulted Living 15V x 14' Topeka PLAN 42-012 First Row 650 sq.ft. S«Qnd Floor 350 sq.ft. Living Areo 1000 sq.ft. Dimensions 32'x28T 1000 SERIES www.ocMwmeplani .com Up Dining irr x 8' Porch ! | ' Bedroom 10'1" x 9' > 2OC? Associated Des^ns, !nc Master Suite 10'6' x 13'6' Retreat reassurance By the Editors of Consumer Reports If you've ever planned a major getaway or vacation, you've doubtless discovered that cruises, package tours and airline tickets typically require 100 percent payment in advance — in the first two cases, often months before departure. Cancel your plans 60 days before the trip, and the penalty may amount to pocket change. Closer to departure time, however, cruise and tour companies impose stiff penalties for cancellations. Even after you start your trip, an illness or a problem at home could force you to abandon your journey, meaning you would forfeit part of your expenditure. And, at any time before or during your journey, your travel agent or supplier could experience difficulties of his or her own — the ongoing slump in leisure travel has hurt" many in the industry, causing some to declare bankruptcy or shut down. For these and other reasons, exploring travel insurance should be a vital part of your trip-planning process. Travel insurance is a hedge against the possibility that you may have to cancel your vacation or cut it short. It also reimburses you for medical costs, among other expenses. Travel insurance is in much greater demand since last year's terrorist attacks: Up to 30i percent of travelers now opt for the coverage, compared with just 12 percent before the attacks, according to one provider. But travel insurance isn't cheap. In fact, it's one of the most overpriced of all travel services, costing roughly 6 percent of the price of your trip. Various protections are typically included in a travel insurance policy. You should make sure the plan you are considering includes trie following: • Trip cancellation/interruption (TCD- TCI will cover you if the cause of your cancellation is on the insurer's list of acceptable reasons. For example, if you become injured or sick, or a family member dies, it's likely that you'll be covered- Reasons that probably won't wash include changing your mind or deciding your destination may be dangerous. In reviewing TCI coverage, make sure the policy includes "sup- pu'er default," which reimburses you if the company goes out of business. Many travel insurers specifically exclude shaky suppliers, so read their lists carefully. Also, your policy should include "terrorism coverage," which will reimburse you should your destination become a target of terrorism. « Emergency medical care. Even when medical care seems to be provided, as it is on a cruise ship, it comes at a cost — one that may not be borne by your own health cover- a 8 e Review a travel insurance policy to ensure it doesn't duplicate your personal health plan. Also, make sure the travel policy covers pre-existing medical conditions. You must buy the policy within a specified number of days after making your first trip payment, otherwise those conditions may be excluded. Finally, consider "emergency medical evacuation" {EME) coverage, which provides for transportation in the event of serious illness or injury. EME insurance typically will cover getting you to the nearest adequate medical facility — even a special evacuation — as well as getting your eventual transportation home. Not everyone needs travel insurance, nor does every travel situation warrant it. You should consider buying a policy if one or more of the following are true: Your trip is particularly expensive. You are taking a multi-leg journey. You are a senior or have a pre-existing medical condition. You're traveling to an area of unrest, especially if an advisory has been issued by the U.S. Department of State (see www.travel.state.gov/ travel—warnings.html.) Your travel agent should be able to help you learn more about travel insurance companies. And check out the Web site of travel insurance aggregator InsureMyTrip.com (www. insuremytrip.com), which gives instant cost comparisons from a number of insurers based on the information you provide. Visit the Consumer Reports Web site at www.consumerreports.org. Sealing basement closet against dampness is tricky By PETER MOTION The Boston Globe Q. I have a closet in the basement against the foundation wall. I sealed the wall with hydraulic cement, and everything was fine until I found shopping bags in the closet that were soaking wet. \Vhat can I do? A. If it is possible to store clothing and anything else in the closet upstairs, do so. It is extremely difficult to seal a closet in a basement against condensation, which is the culprit with the shopping bags. The floor is a particular problem and probably the biggest source of the water vapor that condenses on it, and sealing it against moisture is complicated and expensive. I am sure some homeowners have had good luck with closets in the basement because they have done everything right. But until everything is done right, the better place for a closet is in the living space, or even in the attic. Q. The knob is loose on the inside of my front door; I think the stem is stripped- Can I take out that stem to replace it, or do I have to take apart the latch? A. I think you have to fake the latch apart to remove and replace a stem, but before you do that try this: The knob might have a set screw on its shaft; try tightening this set screw against the square, threaded stem. If the set screw is missing, buy a new one at any hardware store. I frankly have never heard of a stripped stem; you can unscrew the knob from the stem to see if it is, indeed, stripped. The knob also may not be properly snugged against the holder on the plate; turn it so that it snugs into the holder, but not too tightly, then drive home the set screw. If all this fails, have a locksmith look at it. Q. My house has some fine old crown molding along the rake board, which is in pretty good shape except for the bottom ends, several inches of which are rotting. The molding is 6Vt inches wide, and I can get new molding only 5 W inches wide. Where can I get the larger molding or how can I have a piece reproduced? A. For starters, let's define rake board: It is a trim that goes on the gable end of the house, following the slope of the roof. That said, you might End the proper-sized crown molding in plastic, a firm urethane foam, or other material, which would \vork very well and stand up well to the weather. Any lumber store or big box chain carries catalogs of such molding. Alternatively, take a piece of the molding to a millworker or woodworker who can make a set of knives to duplicate your molding. It is not as expensive as you might think," although nearly any price is worth duplicating that fine old molding. Another possibility is to buy a piece of the 5M-inch molding, attach a small wood strip to the rake, then insert the short molding, which might not match the original molding but would look good enough to escape the casual eye. Q. I bought a flying insect killer spray. How can 1 close off the room that has no doors so that the spray will work? I have quite a few small black critters with swept-back wings that look like an F-I6 or F-I5. My apartment is just above the apartment house's rubbish room. A. The critters could be some kind of beetle, or, from their swept-back wings, a type of fly. Unless they are a wood-boring beetle such as the old house borer or powder post beetle, I suggest swatting them with a fly swatter and disposing of them as they come along. I do not think using a spray indoors is a good idea, although pyrethrums are good to use against flies and beetles. If you have to spray, hang bedsheets or polyethylene plastic over doorless openings. Because your apartment is above the rubbish room, I think the critters are some kind of fly, but not a house fly or cluster fly. If they persist, call an exterminator. Q. When my steam boiler is on during the winter, a very fine white powder settles on furniture tops and other surfaces in my family room, where a large metal smokepipe goes through the room. The room used to be a garage, and the pipe goes along the ceiling on its way to the chimney. It is painted metal, 12 inches in diameter. The boiler is fired by oil, and someone suggested the powder might be sulfur in the exhaust escaping from the smokepipe. What is it and how can I keep it from recurring? The powder does not occur in summer when the boiler is not running. The insulation on the steam pipes has been removed, but new insula- tion was not installed. A new boiler was also installed. A. The sulfur theory sounds reasonable; have your oil contractor check the oil burner exhaust for sulfur and other pollutants. The burner may be burning dirty, and can be adjusted. Also, make sure the smokepipe is airtight. Most important, have your oil contractor check the smokepipe for asbestos. If it is present, it should be removed professionally. The smokepipe that you say looks like painted metal may have an asbestos paper wrapped on it. You could also have an asbestos abatement company (in the Yellow Pages under, of all things, Asbestos Abate- menO check that smokepipe. Because the boiler is new and the insulation (probably asbestos) was removed from the steam pipes, there is no other source of asbestos, unless there is asbestos residue in the basement that is being picked up by the burner and distributed into the smokepipe.

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