With sand traps, fairway bunkers, waste areas, and water of all kinds, golfers deal with enough hazards on the golf course as is, so having to navigate a large reptile with sharp teeth and powerful jaws just seems unfair. Luckily for one pro at the Zurich Classic, the Rules of Golf seem to agree.
Playing the par-5 18th hole during Thursday’s first round, Tour pro Talor Gooch left his second shot 70 yards from the green in a bunker that was bordered on the right side by a lake. But when Gooch arrived to hit his third shot, he found more than his golf ball waiting for him.
Basking next to the bunker, just steps from his ball, were three large alligators. Members of his group were able to successfully shoo away two of the gators, but one stubborn animal stayed put… while munching on a bunker rake.
“The third one was eating the rake basically, so we decided that we would not take the chance," Gooch said after the round.
Legitimately fearing for his safety, Gooch invoked Decision 1-4/10 of the Rules of Golf:
1-4/10 Dangerous Situation; Rattlesnake or Bees Interfere with Play
Q. A player's ball comes to rest in a situation dangerous to the player, e.g., near a live rattlesnake or a bees' nest. In equity (Rule 1-4), does the player have any options in addition to playing the ball as it lies or, if applicable, proceeding under Rule 26 or 28?
A. Yes. It is unreasonable to expect the player to play from such a dangerous situation and unfair to require the player to incur a penalty under Rule 26 (Water Hazards) or Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable), although these Rules remain an option, if applicable.
It's fair to say alligators are at least as dangerous as rattlesnakes or bees, so Gooch was able to take a free drop a safe distance from the modern-day dinosaur.
Fortunately, Gooch was able to make par from there, and that was perfectly fine with him.
"I like my life. I like it with all my limbs. So I stay away from those things."