I'll never forget my first time playing golf in Mississippi.
After the round, one of the course rangers said:
"Man, you're crazy to stomp around in these woods looking for your golf ball. Aren't you worried about all the [deadly] Cottonmouth snakes in there?
I don't remember my response because my mind was screaming, "Now you tell me!"
And that's the point of today's tip:
There are many popular golf destinations with wildlife issues -- even if it's relentless insects during certain months -- but it's usually assumed you're aware of the risks and how to avoid being bitten, stung...or eaten.
So, want to avoid winding up in the emergency room...or worse?
Alligators in Cancun, Mexico (and Florida, South Carolina, etc.)
Not sure if you caught the headlines a few months back, but there were two alligator attacks in as many months at the Iberostar Cancun Golf Club in Mexico. One man lost two fingers and another's leg was shredded when an alligator (possibly the same one) lunged out of the bushes and attacked them. My advice? Make a lot of noise (yell, clap your hands, etc.) before looking for a ball off the fairway, and assume ANY roped off areas are dangerous, even if there's no written notice.
Fire Ants in Florida (and other parts of the Southeast)
As tempting as it might be, don't kick or otherwise disturb any anthill you see with tiny red ants milling around it. These pests have a way of latching on to your shoes, club, etc., and before you know it, they're crawling all over you. And one bite from these pests and you'll know why they call them Fire Ants.
Scorpions, Rattlesnakes, and Cacti in Arizona
If you're looking for your ball off the fairway in the desert, it's possible to stumble upon scorpions and rattlesnakes (especially if you're rooting around rocks and such). While most are not deadly, my understanding is that a sting or bite can still make you pretty sick. As for the cacti, don't go near the Jumping Cholla, even if you can see and hit your ball. The slightest touch and you've got a real problem with this plant's fishhook-like barbs.
Greenhead Flies in Southern New Jersey
Not every pest is poisonous of course; some are just painful and beyond irritating. For example, everyone from my hometown area knows about the dreaded Greenhead flies that show up in summer at certain golf courses near the beach. You can swat at them all you want, but they keep coming back. And when they eventually bite you, it feels like a needle and leaves a welt.
Black Flies in Massachusetts (and many other parts of the USA)
No, flies are not only a New Jersey thing. I have friends in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania who say the Black Flies that typically show up there between May and July are also ferocious. Be sure to ask around if the golf course/resort you're planning on visiting has problems with these bloodsuckers, and plan accordingly.
Do you have any local knowledge about how and when to avoid harmful or irritating golf course wildlife?
Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.