Carolinas Golf Magazine

Winter 2018

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Page 41 of 43

Beware Hazards Beyond Sand and Water When you're out on the course, let's hope you don't come across any gators, mythical creatures or fowl visitors BY SCOTT KEEPFER ILLUSTRATION BY BRAD WALKER R egardless of where we're teeing off, golfers must regularly con- tend with a wide variety of con- ventional hazards – sand traps, bunkers, ponds, creeks, trees, tall grass and the like. Here in the Carolinas, players must be on the lookout for potentially more haz- ardous hazards emanating from origins both natural and, possibly in some cases, supernatural. These hazards aren't enough to discour- age us from playing as many rounds as possible, of course, but it's a wise idea to remain up to date on potential problem areas and the critters that may be encountered. Here then we present a primer on the what to keep an eye on in addi- tion to that round sphere of frustra- tion: Alligators, snakes and other reptiles Golf courses are attractive habitats for alligators. Think about it. If you were charged with creating the per- fect residence for an alligator, it likely would include plenty of water and sand interspersed with an abundance of idealistic sunning spots; in essence, a golf course. It's not surprising then that these territorial, jumbo-jawed denizens of the wetlands are regular sights on courses in and around the coastal regions of the Carolinas, although there's no tangible evidence (much to our chagrin) that they're attracted to loud, obscenely colored pants of pink and Kelly green. There also is at least one North Carolina course that boasts what could best be described as a "snake ranger." W hen a way- ward golf ball lands in the vicinity of a certain pond on a certain hole, the player must first solicit approval from the snake ranger, who will cautiously examine the ball's lie before announcing whether it's playable or irretrievable. There will be times when it's best to let the ball reside in a watery grave, lest you wind up there as well. Last April, when PGA Tour member Talor Gooch hit an approach shot into the middle of three alligators during the Zurich Classic in Louisiana, he was forced to use "free relief for a dangerous situation." Gooch explained the ruling thusly: "I like my life. I like it with all my limbs. So I stay away from those things. " That should be your guiding philosophy as well. Knobby and the Lizard Man Although we're still awaiting that elusive image of Bigfoot teeing off at Pinehurst No. 2, there are plenty of tales of sightings of his Carolina kin to keep us content. Foremost among them is "Knobby," a Carolinas version of Bigfoot, if you will, that gained considerable fame several years ago thanks to a viral video shot in the greater Delight-Casar-Dirty Ankle metro- plex in rural Cleveland County. The video didn't include an actual image of "Knobby," but did include a local fellow's lengthy explanation on how he chased the large, hairy creature out of his yard with a "git back" stick. Today, "Knobby Don't Believe In You Either" T-shirts remain big sellers in the area, although confirmed sightings of "Knobby" at the county's three golf courses are few and far between. Not to be outdone in the realm of myth- ical creatures, South Carolina counters with the "Lizard Man," a green, swamp- dwelling creature whose legend has per- sisted for more than 30 years. There's also proof that the Lizard Man is reproducing, having spawned an annual Lizard Man Festival in Lee County. Canada geese All of the aforementioned potential hazards pale in com- parison to the common Canada goose, which has overtaken all other forms of varmints and vermin indigenous to the golf course to reside atop the "Most Hated" list. There was a time, long, long ago, when Canada geese were a welcome if not downright aesthetically pleasing sight on golf courses. Then they decided to quit mig rating and establish permanent residency, with their population multiplying uncheck- ed all the while. Rest assured that there is no other creature capable of consuming and transforming vegetation into poop as rap- idly and efficiently as does the goose. And have you ever attempted to clean goose poop off the bottom of golf shoes? The bes option is a chisel and high-powered pressure washer. At this point it's safe to assume that the proliferation of geese on our golf courses has undoubtedly prompted many a golfer to shun the rules of the sport and add a 15th "club" to the bag – namely, a Reming- ton 12-gauge – to help with a very particu- lar kind of shot. Wait, that might create another type of hazard altogether. ■ 40 | | W I N T E R 2 0 1 8 F I NA L S AY

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