Golfers Beware: Aligators on the Course

Mar 23, 2022 | Did you say "Golf" | 0 comments

Florida Golf cart passes an Aligator

Alligators love golf courses too. And if you’re a golfer, you know that one of the hazards of the game is dealing with wildlife. From ducks and geese to deer and foxes, golfers often have to contend with creatures who wander onto the course. While this can add an element of excitement to the game, it can also be dangerous if you are not prepared.

Alligators on golf courses are a common occurrence in Florida. While they may be entertaining to watch, they can also be dangerous. Golfers need to be aware of the alligators and take precautions while playing.

For the average golfer, there is no better place to witness nature up close and personal than being on a golf course.  Witnessing nature on a golf course in its natural habitats while we get to play our beloved sport is a bonus for everyone involved.  

Most golfers who have played even randomly can report stories of experiencing wildlife on the course.  Hopefully, your story won’t follow that of Chubbs Petersons’ arms in arguably one of the greatest golf movies, Happy Gilmore, a must-see movie for any avid golf enthusiast or golf fan.

From the heart of the southern United States, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, or even to South Africa, golfers come in contact with the vast wildlife that nature has to offer. For many players, playing golf is when they are closet to nature. Any and every animal has been accounted for by the millions of golfers that step foot outside on golf courses every year.

Alligator Encounters Can End Dangerously

Encounters range from the electrifying story of a golfer from South Carolina, an elder man who hit a ball near a water hazard and didn’t think twice about what might be submerged under the water.  His attempt to save his lost ball ended in the blink of an eye, and his forearm chomped off after trying to retrieve the lost ball near the edge of the pond. Or the man playing golf in Wyoming, stepping on a rattlesnake looking for his ball in the tall grass when he was struck in the leg causing him to be rushed to the hospital minutes after the bite.  It is common for Northern Golfers to experience numerous encounters with deer, wild bears, disease-carrying Rabbits, Fox, snakes, and a range of birds.   Throughout the Southern United States and especially throughout the Florida area, our nightmare is the American Alligator.

Florida has roughly 1.3 Million alligators that call the state home. With over 1300 golf courses across the state, and with over 300+ of those courses being in the central Florida area, golfers are bound to come in contact with the mighty beast sooner rather than later.

Florida is golf central for all golfers, and Central Florida is a paradise for some of the top playing in Florida.  In the past year alone, there have been over 50 alligator attacks in Florida with a handful of those happening on golf courses.

Unfortunately, Florida is also a great place for alligators, and over 30,000 lakes throughout Florida and nearly 5,000 of those in the Central Florida area, covering Tampa to Daytona, St. Augustine, and the Ocala Florida region.  With 1,000 lakes alone within the boundaries of Lake County Florida, which is geographically the center of the state, and over 250 lakes located in the Orlando area.   

As a result, we have a lot of water which means a lot of gators.  The number one rule to remember is, “Assume that every body of water, regardless of how large, how small, deep or shallow, or where it is located, in the center of town, out in the country, and especially on the golf course, could have an alligator calling the waterhole home.”  

Alligator attacks are rare, but you do not want to be “that guy”.  Warning signs are usually posted on all courses.  Here is a classic warning sign from Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L’auberge Casino Resort, Lake Charles, LA.

This sign brings one back to reality quickly knowing that they are not the only living thing methodically moving around on the golf course at any given moment. Rolling up to the tee box one absolutely cannot miss the large yellow sign that reads “Do you really need that ball?”

Sorry but the five-dollar Taylormade TP5 sitting on the edge of the water can sit right there because your fellow golfers at enjoy having all ten fingers. No golf ball is worth risking an Alligator flying out of the water at nearly 20 miles per hour looking for its next snack. For the golfers that carry the ball retriever in the bag that haven’t bought a new golf ball since these things were invented, you might want to sit this round out. We would hate to hear another Major headline starting with the title “A Florida man” was standing near the edge of a pond trying to recover the ten-cent Top Flight 3000 that might be as old as the Alligator that knocked him into the pond.

On a serious note, if you find yourself on vacation playing one of the hundreds of stunning courses here in Central Florida. Take in the beautiful scenery that the sunshine state has to offer and enjoy the pristine golf courses that can’t be found in any other part of the world. Central Florida has over 300 golf courses that you can checkout that tie its natural landscape and wildlife together. The state has done a tremendous job of preserving wildlife when building golf courses, allowing most of what nature has to offer to remain in their ecosystems undisturbed.

The FWC (Florida Wildlife Commission)  recommends that golfers stay aware of their surroundings while playing on courses that have an alligator population and always use caution when near the animals. It is also important to remember that alligators are protected by Florida law and it is illegal to kill, harass or molest them.

Aligator in a water hazard on a Florida Golf Course


Subscribe to the Newsletter