With summer — and outdoor actvities — in full swing, this week we tie together three unrelated offbeat stories with the assistance of actor Bill Murray and the 1980 classic movie, “Caddyshack.”
It wasn’t exactly a reprise of Bill Murray’s memorable role as the demented groundskeeper with a manic obsession for destroying golf course gophers, but, as Caddyshack moments go, it was darned close.
Thurston County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Department reported that a county resident shot off part of his finger while setting a homemade mole-killing trap in his yard.
The device consisted of a spring-loaded mechanism that was staked into the ground, along with a trigger apparatus and a loaded shotgun shell.
What could possibly go wrong, you might ask?
Seattle TV station KIRO reported the 39-year-old man—who was not identified by name—apparently tripped the device’s trigger while placing it in the ground.
He was treated and released by a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries to his finger.
Authorities say in addition to the painful partial loss of a finger, the do-it-yourself exterminator will likely face gross misdemeanor charges for setting an illegal trap. Ouch!
Hazard? What Hazard?
Competing in a scramble at the Walnut Grove Golf Course in Lady Lake, Fla., Harry Lamontagne hit his tee shot on the 160-yard, 7th hole and watched the ball land just short of the green. As his foursome made its way to the green, a fox emerged from the rough, snatched Lamontagne’s ball and dropped it on the putting surface near the hole.
Faced with a rules’ conundrum, the scramblers elected not to use Lamontagne’s ball, instead using another’s tee-shot — sinking a 60-yard birdie putt in the process!
Rule 18-1, according to an account of the event appearing in The Villages Daily Sun, is : “…if a ball is at rest (has stopped rolling) and is moved by an outside agency (in this case, the fox), there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced as near as possible to its original spot.”
Golfers at three courses in southern Maine who have witnessed their golf balls being swiped from the greens by 4-legged thieves are well aware of the rule that no penalty is assessed when a ball at rest is moved by “an outside agency.” It’s widely understood by golfers there’s no need to add a stroke to the scorecard when the offending culprit is a fox or coyote.
Dozens of incidents involving ball-stealing critters have been reported at courses in the region during the past year.
The most credible theory to explain the unusual behavior is that the bouncing ball and its resemblance to an egg triggers a wild canine’s animal instinct to pounce and grab.
The Kennebec Journal reports that Tom MacDowell and Bill Fogel were playing a round at Portland’s Riverside Golf Course as they watched MacDowell’s ball fall just short of the 14th green. A coyote immediately shot out of a nearby wooded area, scooped up the ball in its mouth and trotted back to the trees.
“Maybe he collects Nike golf balls,” MacDowell opined.
The newspaper reporteds foxes have become as much of a hazard as the ponds and sandtraps at the Highland Green Adult Resort Community and Golf Course in Topsham for the past several years.
Highland Green resident Lyn Adams said she found a cache of balls near a fox den while walking with her husband in the woods near the course.
“There were 30 balls buried, covered with leaves and dirt,” she said.
While their antics and ball thievery can be somewhat of a nuisance to golfers, course officials have nothing but kind words to say about the ball-hunting inhabitants of the woods and rough. That’s because in addition to pilfering Titleists during the day, the foxes and coyotes are also keeping the gopher, mole and vole population in check.
And for groundskeepers — like Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) in Caddyshack — the fewer gophers, the better.
Have you ever experienced any four-legged hazards on the golf course?