12 Golf Course Perils

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I've always hated golf. I think it has something to do with the compulsory lessons of my youth and the uncomfortable shoes. But, seeing as the British Open is upon us, I thought I would once again venture into the world of pastel-colored plaid, silly looking hats, and carefully manicured grass. The following are twelve perils you probably won't ever encounter on a golf course but should still be aware of—turns out my hatred for the game may have been a defense mechanism in disguise.

1. Lightning

Lightning commonly strikes the tallest object, so when a human is standing in an open, flat area holding a metal golf club, he is transformed into a lightning rod. Hence why my golfing in a thunderstorm is particularly dangerous: every year around 90 people are killed by lightning strikes.

2. Carpal Tunnel

Yup, carpal tunnel. No longer just a common cubicle ailment, carpal tunnel can affect golfers who spend a considerable amount of their time playing golf. Starting with a feeling of numbness and a weakening of the hands, carpal tunnel can be deterred by a loosening of one's grip and regular replacement of grips.

3. Wild Animals

KingCobra.jpg Many times a golf course provides the perfect arena for an impromptu battle of man versus wild. For example, Jim Stewart was attacked by a 10-foot cobra while golfing in Singapore. He killed the cobra with his golf club only to see another snake emerge from its mouth. Other reported incidents have included a one-eyed, 11-foot alligator; crocodiles; hungry bears; a monkey who likes to strangle people; and, of course, dancing gophers.

4. Trains

At Ludkin Links in Fife, Scotland, the 5th green is bordered by a set of train tracks. This situation proved disastrous for Harold Wallace, who was struck by a train while crossing the tracks.

5. Mortar Shells

The greens keeper at Elephant Hills Country Club in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, has his hands full. Pristine holes can often be riddled with craters caused by mortars shot over the Zambezi River.

6. Dead Bodies

Pelham Bay and Split Rock Golf Course was never featured in The Sopranos, but it should have been. Rumor has it that the course, located in the Bronx, is a popular site for dumping dead bodies. Between 1986 and 1992, police found 40 dead bodies in Pelham Bay Park, where the course is located.

7. Flawed Design

In January of this year, a woman sued the Owl's Creek Golf Course in Virginia Beach for $1 million after she was hit in the head by an errant ball, resulting in a brief hospitalization. She claims that the layout of the 16th and 17th holes put herself and other golfers at danger due to their close proximity.

8. Surfacing Ball Retrievers

BallDiver.jpg Golf ball diving is quite a lucrative business ($1.50 - $4.00 per ball), causing many to don scuba gear and plunge into golf course lagoons. These divers can be quite startling to golfers, though, when they emerge from dives. Michael Fleming, a golf ball diver in Georgia, once startled a lady who was looking for her ball in a lagoon, causing her to tumble into the water.

9. Modern Warfare

The green zone in Baghdad is now home to a golf course. The Crossed Swords Golf Course is surrounded by 15-foot walls while guns blast and Black Hawk helicopters whirl in the distance. Each golfer is allowed three clubs and must carry around a patch of grass from which to drive his ball into the holes, which are comprised of baked bean cans. Taking cover when mortar shells penetrate the blast wall is highly recommended.

10. Aroused Libidos

Pennsylvania police were recently called in to investigate a private outing at the Cherry Valley Golf Course one afternoon. What they found were lap dance stations between holes and naked women roaming the course. Despite several verbal threats by one of the golf course's employees, the ribald festivities were shut down.

11. Emergency Landings

Clipper.jpg Golf courses make for effective landing strips. Just ask Robert Kadera of Lake Villa, Illinois, who recently landed his 1949 Piper Clipper on the Marriott Resort Crane's Landing Golf Course. Kadera did not radio in a mayday and crash land his Piper Clipper, but rather made use of the golf course because his son was late for his tennis lesson across the street.

12. Belligerent Ex-Policemen

Recently in Orange County, ex-policeman Raymond K. Yi flashed his badge, cocked his gun, and shouted, "Get the [expletive] out of my way, old man. I could kill you," to Gustavo Resendiz, a fellow golfer at the course. The violent episode occurred after Yi repeatedly broke golf etiquette. Resendiz threw Yi's ball into a nearby creek in retaliation, and Resendiz pulled his gun.

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July 18, 2008 - 4:00am
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