Carolinas Golf Magazine

SPR 2019

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Water Hazard or Fishing Hole ? You're in good company if you've ever thought about going from slicing your driver to hooking a bass during a round of golf BY SCOTT KEEPFER ILLUSTRATION BY BRAD WALKER W hen driving or strolling past any portion of an eye-catch- ing golf course in springtime, most people pause to admire the mani- cured greens, the tree-lined fairways and the abundance of flora bursting into bloom. I admire the ponds. Not so much for their aesthetics, mind you, but rather for what I refer to as their "fishability." Most golfers abhor any semblance of water, be it a trickling creek, a stag- nant pond or a picturesque lake. To them, water means trouble; to me, water means fish. I appreciate the sport of golf as much as anyone, but must confess that while many of my golf-loving acquaintances are enamored with bentgrass, oftentimes I find myself more smitten by the possibility of a bent fishing rod. Perhaps that could be blamed on my upbringing, which included con- siderably more time with a Zebco 33 in hand than a pitching wedge. Truth be told, it's comforting to know that I'm not alone in this pisca- torial pursuit. North Carolina native Davis Love III is among 66 PGA Tour players who proudly claim fishing as their favorite "spe- cial interest" outside of golf, according to the circuit's latest media guide. Love has admitted to returning to the Blue Monster course at Doral after his round to throw a line toward some of the peacock bass he's witnessed finning their way around rocks in one of the ponds. He's not alone, either. Robert Garrigus says his biggest thrill outside of golf is catch- ing a 10-pound bass. Brandon Harkins' dream is to be featured in Field & Stream for "catching the world-record bass." Reigning T exas Open champion Andrew Landry says he'd be a fishing guide if he weren't making a living on the PGA Tour. Interestingly, every fishing guide I've ever interviewed has been convinced that they'd be a pro golfer if they weren't mak- ing a living catching fish, but that's another story. The good news is that you don't have to be a golf pro to frequent golf course ponds, as has been proven time and again by fel- low sportswriter Ed Hardin of Greensboro, N.C. Hardin regularly plays a round at a local layout and keeps a fishing rod handy "just in case." "I always bring my rod," Hardin says. "And if I'm playing bad, I quit and go fish." He relishes the fact that there's an abun- dance of pond-laden courses within a short drive. "Every one of them has unfished waters," says Hardin, who admits to wrestling most of the biggest bass of his life from golf course ponds. "So if you're lucky, you can do a Tour DuPond, as it were." Ah, therein lies the rub – if you're lucky. Most golf course owners don't appreci- ate the uninvited or wayward angler, which probably goes a long way toward explain- ing why I only dream of casting a large Carolina-rigged, chartreuse-and-pumpkin plastic worm with a pork rind trailer into the middle of the famed Ike's Pond at Augusta National. Unfortunately, I always seem to awaken from my fantasy in a cold sweat with several officials hastily ushering me off the course in handcuffs. So why this seemingly unnatural infat- uation with golf course ponds? The fact that two of the largest catches of my life have been pulled from the depths of golf course ponds notwithstanding, it has long been my contention that every body of water on a golf course contains at least one gargantuan fish capable of inhaling and spitting out golf balls like they're kernels of popcorn. It's also widely accepted that fungicides and fertilizers not only grow healthy and happy grass, but also produce healthy, happy and hefty bass. Ponds also are easy to fish and oh- so-inviting, primarily because they're invariably free of waterside hazards, which greatly minimizes the chances of entanglement. Save for an occa- sional snapping turtle or alligator, there also are relatively few hazards in the ponds themselves. The bottom line is that perhaps fishing and golf don't have to be mutually exclusive. No one needs more than 12 clubs in a bag, which leaves ample room for both a fishing rod or two. It's also advisable to remove half your balls from their zippered pocket and fill the void with a box of fishing lures; if you lose more than half a dozen balls in a round, you should probably be focusing your efforts on fishing anyway. On the other hand, if a round is going your way, by all means keep it going. Just remember to make a mental note of some desirable fishing spots for later. And come the second Saturday in April, if you happen to catch a glimpse of a dis- traught man in handcuffs being hustled from the course at Augusta National after tossing an oversized lure into Ike's Pond, just smile and rest assured that I saw a bass in there that was worth the risk. ■ 48 | | S P R I N G 2 0 1 9 FINAL SAY

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