Golf is played outdoors and often mingles with wildlife. Rare is the golfer who hasn’t admired deer, wild turkey or eagles on their favorite course — or wisely decided to leave a ball that comes too close to an alligator or snake and drop at a safe distance.
Florida residents Jim Laudenslager of Jacksonville, and Ken Dye of Ponte Vedra Beach had quite the interesting encounter with an animal on a golf course.
Laudenslager, who has operated the Lauden Golf equipment company since 1976 and Dye, traveled to the Sapelo Hammock Golf Club in Shellman Bluff, Ga., just north of Darien, on the recommendation of one of Laudenslager’s customers. The public-course gem, which winds through marsh and pine forests, was built in 1998 and saved from closure in 2010 by a group of investors led by Michael Hardy, who built his home on the course.
The course is worth the drive, as Laudenslager and Dye found out.
They also found out that the star of the course isn’t the club champion or long-time head pro — it’s Foxy, the name Sapelo Hammock members have given to the sleek, frisky fox who patrols the area around the 16th green.
After Laudenslager and Dye found the fairway at the short par-4 hole, Laudenslager hit the green and had a 10-foot putt and Dye was over the green, in the second cut. While they were driving up the green, then looked to their left and saw Foxy racing ahead of them, coming from a den he has established between the green and a pond.
The fox first went to Dye’s ball, grabbed it and sped off into the bushes that guard his den. While they were contemplating that bit of thievery, Foxy then darted back onto the green and grabbed Laudenslager’s ball and ran off.
According to the rules of golf, the two were allowed to replace their all as near as possible to the original spot, which they did.
Foxy wasn’t done.
Dye chipped his ball towards the hole, and the fox trotted onto the green and grabbed that one too.
The brazenness so impressed the two that after they finished the hole (both made par) they left most of a bag of chips for Foxy.
They also had the presence of mind to get still photos and video of the caper.
“He got three golf balls and some chips,” Laudenslager said. “Ken and I have played a lot of golf and seen every animal you could ever see on a golf course around here. We never saw anything like that. We were amazed.”
When they got back to the pro shop, some of the regulars told them Foxy has hundreds of golf balls in his den. No one tries to go in there and retrieve them.
“I guess they figure if the fox puts in that kind of effort, he can keep the balls,” Laudenslager said.