Lions and Tigers and Bears!

August 22, 2019

Just in case my younger readers/golfers don’t know where that quote came from, I will only say, “follow the yellow brick road,” and you will be amazed and entertained by the original (1939) movie, “The Wizard of Oz.”

During my years of playing golf at more than 50 golf courses from Georgia to Pennsylvania, I haven’t seen any lions, tigers, bears or flying monkeys, but I have encountered some “wildlife” along the way. In Georgia, I almost stepped on a six-foot black snake while looking for my lost ball in a wooded area. In North Carolina, I have played through Canadian geese on the fairway and greens. In Maryland, I have battled crows which will fly into your golf cart and try and steal your food. In Delaware and Pennsylvania I have encountered numerous deer and a rabid fox roaming the fairways.

But my most exciting adventure came in Virginia where a sign hanging on a fence near the green (at the end of a long par five) read, “Beware of the bull, retrieve balls at your own risk.” (Let’s just say he didn’t like my third shot, which I hooked into his pasture with a five wood from 200 yards away.)

But thankfully (knock on wood), I have never been bitten or gored by an animal or reptile while playing golf. And I am proud to say that none of these encounters have stopped me from shooting my usual 92 from the white tees on any course.*

So with animals and reptiles now firmly embedded in your golf psyche, I will relate some additional animal/golf stories from around the world.

Story #1: Double Trouble. I use a Cobra driver, but this story involves the real deal. In the 1972 at the Singapore Open, golfer Jimmy Stewart hit a tee shot into the rough on the third hole. As he approached his ball, a ten-foot cobra slithered out of the brush and coiled near his ball. Undeterred, Stewart took his club and killed the snake, but another emerged from the bush and he killed that one also. (No penalty strokes were assessed.)

Story #2: A Birdie In the Hand. August 12, 1975 was a memorable day for eleven-year-old Willie Fraser from Kingussie, Scotland. It was opening day for the highly anticipated start of grouse season and Willie was the first to bag a grouse. Young Willie didn’t need a shotgun to kill the first grouse of the hunting season; he did it with his driver when he hit his opening drive into a flock of grouse on the fairway. (I’ve heard grouse tastes like chicken.)

Story #3: Home On the Range. Avid golfer and veterinarian Allen Vendros from Merriam Kansas was playing golf at the Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs when he noticed a buffalo in distressed labor in an adjacent field. He left his foursome and quickly climbed over the fence to help the mother give birth. He then cleaned the newborn calf, climbed back over the fence and finished his golf round. (Later in the clubhouse, “no discouraging words were heard.”)

Story #4: Something Fishy. It is hard to believe, but golfer Dave Hickler combined his two loves, fishing and golf, into one sports outing. While playing a round at the Bangkok Country Club, he hit a high tee shot toward the par three, seventeenth green, where his ball hit the edge of the water hazard and bounced onto the bank. When he arrived to hit his second shot, he found a floating 12-inch carp that had been struck by the ball. (I have heard that carp tastes like chicken.)

* A few years ago, I played a course in Pauley’s Island, SC, where every water hazard had a sign: Beware of Alligators. (I have heard that alligators think people taste like chicken.)

19 Hole Trivia

• Japanese golfer Takaaki Kono won the 1972 Singapore Open, but cobra killer Jim Stewart did not finish in the top ten. (Maybe he was just “snake bit”?)

• Frank Phillips from Australia was the first winner of the Singapore Open in 1961.

• In 1939, The Wizard of Oz grossed $16.5 million.

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