By Kaitlin Armstrong
While Florida is known for its golf courses, recent incidents show that playing on them poses a far greater hazard than ever seen before on the greens.
With the diverse wildlife throughout the state, alligators have become a common occurrence on golf courses. In fact, these reptiles have made their presence known so often that many players who hit their ball in the water choose to leave it in case a gator is waiting down below.
“Regardless of the circumstances, I have seen that many golfers refuse to go near the water, fearing that alligators or snakes could be underneath the surface,” said Zenas Jones, alumnus. “This, of course, makes golf an exciting sport, providing the fear of running into dinosaur-sized alligators on the course.”
Gators of all sizes have made these courses their homes. In fact, some of these gargantuan animals have played key roles in viral videos as of late, interrupting golfers attempting to enjoy their matches.
“I like my life. I like it with all [of] my limbs. So, I stay away from [gators],” said Talor Gooch, PGA Tour golfer, to the Golf Channel after his run-in with an alligator at the recent Zurich Classic.
Locally, these reptiles have been spotted at multiple golf locales including Buffalo Creek Golf Course in the Parrish and Palmetto area. At Buffalo Creek, a gator, nicknamed Chubbs, strolled across the eighth hole with a group of vultures following him. The video was posted on Facebook and has gotten high levels of attention.
“Chubbs is a deceptively cute name; the size of the gator is so massive and unusual,” said Megan Selfridge, junior. “I feel like this is such an unusual sighting at a golf course. This just shows golfers definitely need to be careful and fully aware of their surroundings while playing in Florida.”
While some may view golf to be less exciting than most other sports, the unwanted cold-blooded spectators have truly brought keener eyes to the fairways. Now, it is just a challenge to balance safety and sport moving forward.