Video of a golfer refusing to let an approaching alligator foil his concentration is being cited as proof the sport “ain’t for sissies” in Florida.
It shows Michael West playing the 10th hole at Punta Gorda’s Heritage Landing when he looked over his shoulder to see a 7-foot alligator fast approaching.
Instead of panicking, West ignores the alligator, studies the ball and takes his swing.
Laughter is heard as other golfers watch in disbelief.
“I was lining up my approach shot from about 125 out. I knew he was coming up diagonally behind me,” West told McClatchy News.
“He got to about 15 feet before he laid down as I swung. ... My buddy Grant was getting a little nervous and wanted me to hurry up. ... I was far more worried about leaving myself a makeable birdie putt than him (the alligator).”
West hit a pitching wedge to within 8 feet of the flag, then surrendered the hole to the gator.
“He was very likely headed to the bigger lake across the fairway,” West said. “He was just going about his business. It was great. I get to have a dinosaur watch me play.”
West, who works for Tropical Tile & Marble in Naples, said it’s not the strangest gator encounter he’s had on a Florida course.
“I’ve had to drop due to walking up and seeing my ball a foot from a 10-foot animal,” he said. “If there’s water, expect there to be an alligator in it or near it. They are prehistoric creatures, that don’t want any more interaction than you do up close. Respect their space, and they will likely do the same.”
The video was shared on the Alligators of Florida Facebook page by his wife, Melissa Walsh, who doesn’t golf but says she thinks it’s amazing alligators and humans can coexist on a golf course.
“Playin’ golf in Flarda ain’t for sissies,” Jack McSwain wrote.
“Typical day at a FL golf course. Lol. The gators wait patiently and are very respectful,” Kaydee Richley posted.
“I love how the gator plops down after the dude swings,” Elizabeth Wilson joked.
“Don’t think for a second they won’t eat you,” Angel Morgan Heart said.
Punta Gorda is about 110 miles south of Tampa.