For everyone coming from up North to the Carolinas, Georgia, or Florida, the first thing you do when you see any body of fresh water is to look for an alligator. From the time I was a kid visiting my grandparents in Deland, I pressed my face to the car window when driving by the smallest body of water. Seeing an alligator on the golf course always adds element of excitement for me. When you encounter one of these living dinosaurs, what should you do? Let’s find out.
The North American Alligator
The American Alligator or Alligator Mississippiensis is an apex predator that survives on birds, frogs, mammals, and fish. They live in fresh water but have been known to hunt in close by salt water. Adult male gators can reach upwards of 15 feet in length. Alligator can reach speeds on land up to 11 mph and thanks to their superior aquatic capabilities 20 mph swimming. Their preferred hunting style to to stalk prey in the water.
Tips for Alligator Encounter
From the Key West Aquarium website, some tips and guides if you encounter an alligator:
- Do not feed alligators.
- If taking a photo or looking at an alligator, remain at least 50 feet away in distance.
- Do not swim in areas where it’s a known alligator community.
- Never go near an alligator nest.
- Never touch or go near an alligator on a road even if it looks dead.
- Stay away from water at night and definitely stay away during the breeding season.
- If you’re in fresh or stagnant water (natural or man-made) in Florida, know that alligators could be anywhere.
Golf Course Tips for Alligator Encounters
I have seen many an alligator on golf courses and think of each experience as a thrill. I also treat gators with respect and do not hassle them.
Let sleeping dogs lie and leave sleeping alligators the “F” alone!
Here are some tips to make sure you enjoy the round of golf and the gator continues to enjoy its sun bath.
- Look for signage at the course that gators are present.
- Scan the shore and water line of any water hazard you approach. If you ball goes in the water, look before you get too close the water line.
- If you see a gator, give it plenty of room.
- If it lifts its head up, give it even more room.
- If you ball lands within 50 feet of a gator, take a free drop on the other side of the fairway preferably with the golf cart between you and the gator. (not official USGA rule but I will allow it)
- Never ask your buddy to stand closer to the gator to give your Instagram post perspective.
- NEVER NEVER NEVER feed a gator food from your cart.
Treat these animals with respect and you will walk away with a cool story. Act stupid and you will have a story for the paramedic who is trying to stem the bleeding in your shredded leg.