Wildlife On The Golf Course

Gators sunbathing in the fairway on Hilton Head, SC

Gators sunbathing just off the fairway on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (Photo by Greg D’Andrea)

I’m an animal lover.  And I don’t mean just your everyday domesticated house pets, but all animals and wildlife.  I can stare at the groundhog family outside my office window for who knows how long.  Well, long enough to get nothing accomplished for a significant amount of time.  But I can’t help myself, I just find wildlife interesting.  This is another thing that gets me excited about going golfing - spending some time out in nature.

When I have the opportunity to play a course that’s far away from a city and carved out of the woods, besides just the beautiful New England countryside, the chance to see a good amount of the local wildlife is there as well.  This comes to mind thanks to a quick nine-hole round I played this past Sunday morning with one of my kids.  On one hole, we had a deer standing in the middle of the fairway that seemed to be in no hurry to leave once we pulled our cart up.  It wasn’t until I continued to pull the cart up, getting to within about 40 yards, before it ran up a hill and out of sight.  On the green of the very next hole, a red-tailed hawk flew within 15 feet of us as we putted out.

Now deer and birds of prey may be relatively common, but it’s a bit uncommon for a deer to let you get that close.  On one occasion, while playing in an old golf league, we had two deer working their way down a fairway toward my foursome standing on the green.  They didn’t turn away until one of us teed off.  Or how about the occasional fox?  There’s been a couple of times where a fox has run across a neighboring fairway.

But it’s been in our travels that we’ve come across some other creatures we won’t normally find here in CT.  For instance, stinky golfer Greg tells a story of playing a course in the southwest where one of the employees ventured into the desert area bordering the rough to collect some balls.  Greg noticed the guy was wearing a pair of boots.  Why?  Well, when he came out of the brush, several stingers from the tails of scorpions were sticking out of the guy’s boots.  Lesson…when playing a desert course, if your ball goes into the brush, leave it there.

One of my favorite experiences though was playing down in Hilton Head, SC.  This was my first time sharing the course with alligators.  People had told us if we leave them alone, then they’ll leave us alone.  This was certainly the case, but that didn’t make it any easier when my approach landed only fifteen feet away from one!

Anyway, the wildlife is just another part of the all-around experience of the sport that keeps me coming back.  I’ve seen deer and all the other furry woodland creatures.  I’ve chipped on while being only fifteen feet away from an alligator.  I’ve caught a few snakes.  I’ve even seen someone hit a duck from about 200 yards!  As long as I never end up on one of those “When Animals Attack” shows, then it’s always going to be one of my favorite parts of the game.

Swing ’til you’re happy!

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