|Salem Golf Club, N. Salem, NY © Golf Girl Media|
A golf course, by its very nature, can be an ideal place to observe wildlife. Whether you play on a traditional seaside links course, a lush parkland spread or an unlikely desert oasis, sooner or later you'll probably have a close encounter with a critter or two.
Autumn with its ripened berries, falling chestnuts and burnished golden foliage, is prime time for nature watchers in the northeastern US; last week, just off a pristine fairway at Salem Golf Club, our foursome observed a white tail deer casually rubbing his antlers on the bark of an ancient oak tree. It was all very picturesque until he began pounding his hoof on the ground in a blatantly aggressive manner. We collectively conceded that this eight point buck might be the most effective deterrent to slow play... ever.
This past weekend, along with a US victory, The Presidents Cup celebrated... with giddy enthusiasm... a squirrel. Sammy, as the affable rodent was known, quickly became the team mascot and provided multiple moments of brightness in a competition that took place under consistently somber skies.
Less famous than Sammy, but far more imposing was the female grizzly bear who'd been haunting the golf courses at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in British Columbia for most of the summer. It seems the ursine interloper was attracted to the area by a berry patch and salmon stream. She was finally trapped and moved to higher ground ... and wildlife officials made sure to outfit the golf course grizzly with a tracking collar to assure an advanced warning should she again be tempted to try her paws at the Creekside Par 3.
Finally, there's the now famous fairway fox at Verbier Golf Club in Verbier, Switzerland. Local residents and golfers playing the alpine course have been entertained... and frustrated... by the playful omnivore since early September. You see, this sly canid isn't content to sit on the sidelines. According to observers, he appears on course each afternoon and proceeds to steal golf balls. The impressive action is documented in the video below, and has garnered Foxy a share of celebrity; BBC News, CNN and the Huffington Post have all covered his antics. It's interesting to note that Foxy's course of choice is also a par-3. Perhaps critters prefer the playability of a shorter course.
With more and more courses focused on sustainability and conservation golfers can expect more frequent meetings with wildlife. Fortunately, for most who love the sport animal encounters only add to its awesomeness.