“Fore!!!” is a word called out as a warning to people in the path of a golf ball. Golfers are generally pleasant people and if we slice a ball into a neighboring fairway, we yell the warning at the top of our lungs. And everybody within earshot ducks. Nobody wants to be at the receiving end of a little white projectile traveling at over 125 mph.
The occasional errant ball passing in front of us isn’t usually a real cause for alarm, however. Last month, one flew past my ear from nearby fairway – a little close for my liking – but the rest of the round was safe from wayward missiles. Nonetheless, other objects have fallen out of the sky onto golf courses; some kinda funny, but some with serious consequences.
If somebody said “It’s raining golf balls,” I’d think they were talking about bad golfers slicing and hooking their way through the course. I would never imagine this:
Back in 1969, there was a fairly average rainstorm in Punta Gorda, Florida. That is, until golf balls fell out of the sky by the dozens. Not on the golf course, mind you. Citizens found them on their lawns and in the streets. The prevailing theory was that a storm sucked the water out of a nearby golf course lake (resting place for the golf balls that don’t clear the water hazard) and then dumped the golf balls in the town. Or else the golf course maintenance crew was returning the balls to their owners. 😉
Unfortunately, bigger and more unexpected objects can crash onto a golf course. Tragically, in April, 2017, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed onto a Maryland golf course, killing one crew member. Two others were hurt during this routine training exercise. The pilot probably saw the wide open spaces of the golf course and picked the safest place to land, hoping it could be set down in one piece.
Read more about the accident and see the photos here:
Then in May, 2017, a tour helicopter crashed onto a Santa Barbara, California area golf course. The pilot was headed back to the airport when the engine trouble started. There were three people on board, but they only had minor injuries. The helicopter didn’t land on a fairway, though. He landed on top of some cars in the maintenance area, and then the helo burst into flames. Yup, the threesome was lucky that some golf course employees were there to help get the passengers out in time, had fire extinguishers handy and also helped put out the fire.
Sometimes, people intentionally land on golf courses, without anything life-saving attached to the event. Lexi Thompson, an LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) player jumped out of a plane in order to get to her tee time at the Kingsmill Championship. Truth: she landed on the golf course after skydiving, then teed off. She has a newish partnership with the Seal Legacy Foundation and did the jump to call attention to that. I don’t know about you, but I have enough fun getting to the tee-time with feet planted firmly on the ground. No skydiving needed to ramp up the action.
Then there was the shark…
California has its share of interesting events, but in October, 2012, a 2-foot-long shark dropped out of the sky onto the 12th tee at a San Juan Hills golf course. Probably dropped by a bird, it missed hitting any golfers, but generated lots of press for a while. The rescue efforts carried out by the golf course staff saved the shark’s life, despite the puncture wounds delivered by the bird during flight.
I have never carried a golf umbrella, not even when it’s raining, but I might if I ever play in California or Florida, just to be on the safe side. 😉
Golf ball pile: Patti Phillips
Golf balls on green: Roine Magnusson
Leopard Shark: San Diego Zoo
When golfers are sidelined because of rain or sleet or snow or as in my case, the flu, our minds start dreaming of everything we have ever done around a course. I’ve been honking and coughing for weeks, so it’s been waaaay too long since I stood anywhere near a green. On the plus side, the Golf Channel has been on for 24 hours straight and I am getting some great tips on improving my short game. Choking up on the 9-iron might give me an edge. But, it’s me after all, and I started thinking about bodies on the course.
I’ve maintained that hiding a body on a course is not all that easy, because there is a lot of foot traffic from dawn to dusk, whether it’s the players themselves or groundskeepers in charge of maintaining the fairways, the greens, and the deep rough/woods next to the fairways.
In September of 2016, a woman was heard arguing with her boyfriend at 5 a.m., was dragged away, then driven to a golf course in the Chicago area and left there. Her body was found a little after 8 a.m. and the boyfriend was charged a few days later.
Then, in October, 2016, a body was found in a pond near a fairway at the Seven Bridges Golf Club in Illinois. It was golfers who discovered the body of the 29-year-old man, so they were probably looking for a lost ball. Imagine that surprise!
A Fire Dive Rescue Team recovered the body, and the police decided that there was no foul play involved. That made me think of all the times I’ve played near water hazards and was tempted to go in after a ball that didn’t quite make it across the lily pads. I always opted for keeping my feet dry and left the ball to the ducks unless I could see the little white orb right at the edge. What could have made the guy go in far enough to lose his footing and drown?
Private and/or public courses are not the only places bodies pop up. In January, 2017, a 50-year-old man’s body was found in the water at the Cypress Lakes Golf Course, which is operated by the 60th Force Support Squadron at Travis Air Force Base. Another non-suspicious death, but seriously, how expensive was that golf ball?
All these bodies had been discovered within a few days of the person’s death. But with this next case from February, 2017, the remains had been there since 2005. Twelve years of nobody tripping over a young man who had committed suicide? He was found next to the second fairway at a Columbus, Ohio, Golf and Country Club.
Danny Sanders was a senior at Worthington Kilbourne High School when he left his house in February, 2005 and he wasn’t reported missing for 10 days. When asked why they waited so long, the family thought that he had just taken off somewhere. Then three months later, the father discovered that his handgun was missing.
What’s even more tragic was that Danny’s body was found about 100 yards away from the family’s house, 30 yards into some woods and heavy brush off the fairway. At least the family has closure. In this case, I have to concede that it was unlikely that the body would have been discovered any sooner, since most guys/gals won’t bother looking for a ball that far off the fairway. My guess is that the heavy brush will disappear soon.
Interested in finding out more about two of the cases? Check out these links:
Stay out of the water hazards and stay safe on the golf course!
*Kerrian is a fictional character, but the bodies on the golf courses were real.
*Photo by Patti Phillips
I’ve said it before and it’s still true: Kerrian’s Notebook followers are a great bunch. A few of the readers mentioned that some of the posts in 2014 were ‘ripped from the headlines.’ Truth is often stranger than fiction, so while Kerrian is a fictional character, the posts are based in solid fact. As I say in my upcoming novel, “Murder is messy,” and it’s sometimes just plain weird. But, even a Homicide Detective cooks, goes on an occasional trip, and works with other law enforcement officers, so the fan faves were an interesting mix.
Below is the list of the most frequently read new posts on Kerrian’s Notebook in 2014.
Click on each title to take you to that page. 🙂
10. “How many bodies at the yard sale?” (p.122) – Based on a visit to the 2014 Writers’ Police Academy.
9. “Death by Elevator” (p.105) – Based on my real-life experience in April, 2014.
8. “50 More Ways to Die an Unnatural Death” (p.111) – The #1 vote getter was so popular that I wrote another list and it made the top 10 as well. 🙂
7. “Cemetery at the Golf Course” (p.116) – Yup, this one is true.
6. “Officer needs assistance!” (p.117) Photos taken at the re-enactment of a high-risk stop.
5. “75 Second Mookies” (p.126) – Created, taste tested and eaten by us. 🙂
4. “Chocolaty Chocolate Banana Muffins” (p.96) – Created, taste tested and eaten by us 🙂
3. “What does a firefighter wear?” (p.119) Info about uniforms and videos of heat resistance testing. Photos taken during the 2014 Writers’ Police Academy.
2. “What does a sheriff do?” (p.115) tells the difference between a Sheriff and a Police Chief, as explained to me by an active duty Chief.
…and the most frequently read new post on www.kerriansnotebook.com in 2014 was:
1. “100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death” (p.100) Written in honor of the 100th Kerrian’s Notebook post. There were LOTS of writers that checked out the two unnatural death lists, used some of the ideas in their own writing and even contributed suggestions. Readers sent me some wickedly funny emails and some of those ideas are in #8!
Thanks to all of you, readership almost doubled in 2014. It was a phenomenal year!
Here’s to a great 2015, with fewer real-life homicides, more crimes solved and always, more amazing mysteries/suspense/thrillers to read.
*Photos by Patti Phillips