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Wildlife Encounters on the Golf Course

Over the years I have encountered a variety of wildlife out on the golf course, human and otherwise. In this blog, we’ll focus on the non-humans. We can talk about that foursome in front of you next time.

One of the things I enjoy about being on the golf course is simply being outdoors, tied into nature. A round of golf can turn out to be a great nature walk if you take the time to look around. The type of wildlife you run into will vary depending on what part of the world you live or play in. I’ve been fortunate over the years to not only play in Southern California, where I live, but also in Florida, North and South Carolina, the Caribbean, Japan, China and Indonesia. Every place I’ve played I’ve run into different wildlife, some a little more interesting than others.

In Southern California we have a variety of terrain: desert, canyons, beach and mountains.

 

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Green River Golf Club

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As a result, you’ll often see hawks circling above a course, or riding a thermal up out of a canyon, looking for their next meal. In the early mornings or evenings, it’s not uncommon to spot deer feeding along a fairway. One of the more interesting things I’ve seen was at Mile Square Golf, a public course situated in a large public park. I hit a shot into a fairway bunker. I rolled up to the bunker and found my ball, sitting just a few feet from a fox sunning itself in the sand. The fox had dug a burrow in the side of the trap and didn’t seem the least bit bothered by my presence. I’m pretty sure I was not the first human it had ever seen.

I’ve seen a lot of different types of birds on courses. As I mentioned, I’ve seen hawks, Ibis and tropical birds overseas. On a golf trip to Charlotte, a friend and I played a golf course just over the state line in South Carolina. As we proceeded from hole to hole, a couple of times we ran across a rafter of turkeys.

 

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Our gallery at Springfield Golf Club

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That was a first. Here in SoCal there are the ever present crows, just waiting at the tenth tee for a snack of hot dogs and chips while you tee off!

We’ve all seen the videos and news clips of alligators on the courses in Florida so I won’t go into great depth about them.

It’s Florida, alligators are everywhere!

I’ve visited Singapore a number of times over the years but I never played golf there. Instead, I made multiple day and weekend golf trips to Bintan, a common golf destination for those living in Singapore. The courses there are cut along the ocean and through the jungle.

 

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Keep it in the #fairway on this one. Ria Bintan #golf #indonesia #bintan

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I’ve been fortunate to play both Ria Bintan and Bintan Lagoon. As a result I encountered a new variety of wild life on the course. In addition to the tropical birds I saw (and heard) in the trees, we also ran across large lizards and monkeys. On one round, I recall hitting a nice drive down the middle of the fairway. My caddy and I drove up the fairway and as we approached the ball a large monitor lizard was crossing the fairway. My caddy told me to stop and we just waited for it to finish crossing the fairway. While a common occurrence there, it was a new one for me.

The other new experience was there are monkeys everywhere.

 

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Regardless of where you play #golf, there are animals just waiting for you to turn your back. In #Bintan it was monkeys. #golfcourse

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They’re smart little guys, they wait in the tree for you to venture away from your cart and then they take action. On one hole we were driving up the fairway towards the green and my caddy (a valuable local resource) told me to park in front of the green, which I found puzzling. I asked why and her response was, “Because the monkeys will get in the cart while you’re on the green if you don’t”. Our playing partners didn’t have a caddy, so there didn’t get this valuable piece of local knowledge. They parked on the cart path, not knowing any better. Sure enough, as we putted the monkeys attacked their cart, grabbing anything that looked interesting and heading back into the safety of the trees.

What interesting wildlife have you seen in the course? Have a picture? Put a comment and a link below and share your stories of your golf wildlife encounters.

 

 

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Play Smart Golf, Focus on the Shot!

When you hear a great golfer talk about their game one of the words you always hear is focus. They were thinking through the shot. They’ll say:

  • I visualized what I wanted to do
  • I went through my normal pre-shot routine
  • I focused on the shot

Today, we will look at two aspects of this, thinking through the shot and playing smart golf.

Thinking Through the Shot

When you step up to a shot, what is going through your head?

  • Ignore the water
  • Don’t hit it in that bunker
  • Don’t over swing
  • Keep your head down

selanee henderson puttingSounds a lot different doesn’t it? Developing a pre-shot routine that you use before every shot keeps you focused on the task at hand. If you watch much golf, you will see that every golfer goes through a consistent set to steps before they step up to address the ball. This is true for their tee shots, their fairway shots, their hazard shots and their putts. If they are interrupted, they step back, reset and begin the routine all over again.

How many times have you been on the tee and you don’t feel right or you get distracted. Rarely do we back off the tee. We all do the same thing, hit it anyway. It is no surprise our results are mixed, more often than not on the negative side (my friends might tell you all my shots are with mixed results, focused or not).


Over time I have tried to develop the same routine for tee shots and fairway shots:

  1. Take an easy swing or two to loosen up the back and get a feel for the lie
  2. Stand behind the ball and think through what I’m trying to do
  3. Identify my point of aim (a tree top, building, or some other landmark)
  4. Address the ball and check my alignment against my point of aim
  5. Take my swing

This helps me focus on the shot at hand and not worry about a million other things. On the green, I do something similar and repeat that routine every time I putt.

Smart Golf

For a long time, when I would walk up to a shot, I would simply grab the club that would get me the longest distance down the fairway: driver, three wood, five iron, etc. I didn’t stop to think about the shot after that one.

golfer

As I progressed in my golf game, I became pretty good at understanding my iron distances, how far I hit each one and the gap between them. I also recognized where my strengths, weaknesses and comfort zones were. I began to realize I was much more confident and consistent if I was 110 to 150 yards from the pin then if I was 70 to 90 yards. That started to affect my club selection. I’m not a big hitter, so if I’m 250 yards out I’m not going to power a 3 wood on the green unless I’ve got a great lie and I catch all of it (and maybe some roll). I am better off hitting a mid-iron to my comfort zone distance and then a short iron on approach. I will consistently be closer to the hole than taking the other approach.

Now, having said all that, do I occasionally grab the three wood and go for it? Or will my buddy hit a driver ‘off the deck’ when he really shouldn’t? Hell yea! Because we are out there to have a good time. When you pull those off you feel like a million dollars! But more often than not, you know how that works out.

Conclusion

Just taking some simple steps like visualizing your shot and having a consistent pre-shot routine can have a visible effect on your game. Think a bit more strategically about the shot you are about to hit and the one to follow. You might be surprised at the results.

Do you have a pre-shot routine you always follow? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below. Be sure to swing by our store and auction pages before you leave. Pick up some training aids to help with that course alignment, or a GPS or other golf electronics to help with your yardage!

 

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I Love Rock and Roll…But on the Golf Course?

I’m a music lover. My tastes in music run the gamut: Classic Rock, Progressive Rock, Reggae, Latin, Ambient, Alternative and more. Depending on the time of day and my mood, anything could pop up on my music list. With the quality and low cost of Bluetooth speakers, combined with various streaming services, it’s become easy to take your music with you anywhere. I listen to music around the house, in the car, at the lake or beach, working out, on a plane, get the idea? Pretty much everywhere…except on the golf course.

Why not? A lot of driving ranges now have music playing in the practice area. They’re trying to make practice less boring and more entertaining and pull people in. I don’t mind that and frankly enjoy it when I’m hitting balls. Lately though, I’ve encountered more and more golfers with music streaming out of their carts when I’m on the course. Now, we’re not talking Rodney Dangerfield – Caddyshack volumes but often it’s loud enough to hear if they’re in the group behind or ahead of you. Most golfers are respectful and turn it down when they pull up next to you but occasionally I’ve heard someones tunes blasting from another fairway or green.


I enjoy being out on the course. In my area we have some courses that wind through different canyons and you get a chance to see and hear nature in the wild. In those environments, I don’t think music adds much to the experience. Other courses I play wind through housing tracts and you get to hear leaf blowers, power tools, cars and trains going by, you get the idea. And there are the ever present cell phones. There, I’m not sure you’d even notice the music.

So whats my point? While I’m not a fan of music on the course in my group I’m not saying that should apply to everyone. I read an article the other day commenting on how courses need to pull in younger golf crowds as today’s golf population ages to maintain a healthy business and grow the game. One obvious way to do that is make golf more fun and that includes music on the course, night golf and glow balls and other new draws. If you listen to your tunes on the course, just be aware of the surroundings. During the week when it’s open and no one’s around, have fun, crank it up and enjoy. On busier times when its crowded, be respectful of your fellow golfers. If you wouldn’t be talking while someone’s teeing off, don’t blare your music either.

What are your thoughts? Do you listen to music on the course? Ever had anyone complain or object? Feel free to comment below and let us know your thoughts. I’m really interested in other golfers perspectives.