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Need to find water-logged wayward golf balls? This woman will help

With a love for swimming, fishing and water, 25-year-old Jennifer Mills has found a way to combine them all. Mills is a pond diver.

When she’s not busy working at Powell’s Drive-In Cleaners in South Boston, a business she co-owns with her mother, Vickie Turner of Danville, she’s on to her second job.

She acquired the unusual job several years ago fresh out of high school when she began working at the Ringgold Golf Club as a cart girl. 

“We already had a guy going in the pond, but I begged to take over,” said Mills.

Wearing a bathing suit and windbreaker pants, Mills enters ponds and uses her hands and feet blindly searching for golf balls. Often she discovers many other treasures. 

“Some are shallow and others, quite a few are over my head,” said Mills of the ponds in which she finds herself diving.

In her years on the job, she has found golf clubs, beer bottles, dead turtle shells, a really old glass Pepsi bottle and visors.

“I get to keep everything I find,” said Mills.

Of course the job is seasonal, and she only does it when the weather is warm, and since she’s been so busy at the cleaners, she’s only been able to do the pond diving once a week.

“Last year I did it from May to October. It all depends on how long it stays warm,” added Mills.

The golf course doesn’t pay Mills by the hour, but they do pay her 20 cents a ball buying the balls back by the thousands.

According to Mills, in her biggest haul she retrieved 2,350 balls in one day. She averages about 1,000 a day, and since she went to only working about once a week, she averages 5,000 a season. She uses an inflatable boat in the pond as she retrieves the balls.

Her favorite part of the job, other than finding all the goodies others leave behind, is getting dirty and watching others’ reaction when they find out what she does. 

“Most people are shocked, because I’m a girl,” said Mills.

Mills wears more than one hat as she pursues her life’s interests. She is a lead singer in a classic rock band, “Déjà vu,” and many ask her when she is going to hold a concert in the pond.

“I just laugh,” said Mills shaking her head.

Mostly working by herself with an occasional helper, sometimes her dad, her uncle or her best friend, the one thing she dislikes most about the job is how the dirt and mud stain her fingernails.

But other than that, Mills said, “It’s so much fun…I love it.”