The Dog Days of Golf

By: Jeff Shelley

The last few weeks of the year are virtually barren of golf news. Besides a dearth of pro tour events anywhere on Earth, finding newsworthy golf-related topics around the holiday season are like looking for a needle in a haystack.

All this aridity in the Royal & Ancient Game will change, of course, when the PGA Tour tees off with its Tournament of Champions January 6th at the Plantation Course in Maui. Now sponsored by Hyundai, the event, which features the Tour winners from the previous season, was previously known as the SBS Championship.

While the Tour pros are presumably honing their games in hopes of depositing more millions in their bank accounts, scribes such as me have been reduced to scouring Google for stories about golf. Now that the "Silly Season" and the post-season awards have come and gone, the news pickings are pretty slim and, based on the headlines below, somewhat macabre this time of year.

Here's a sampling of some of the stories that pop up on the world's biggest engine when the world "golf" is typed into its search bar. (Ironically, an hour after this story was posted it was right at the top on page 1 of Google's "golf news.")

"Man Identified from SUV Submerged in Golf Course Pond"

This story from informs us that a body was found in an SUV submerged in a pond near Man O' War Golf Course in Carolina Forest. Officials don't suspect foul play.

It's unknown whether the string of "snowmen" on the scorecard in the victim's pocket had anything to do with the incident.

"Stretching before Warm-Up Swings May Harm Golf Game"

A physiology expert tells U.S. News and World Report that the simple act of stretching before taking warm-up swings may hurt your golf game. Doing passive, static stretching before taking practice swings results in "significant decreases in club-head speed, distance, accuracy and consistent ball contact," says Jeffrey C. Gergely, of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Stretching may cause tendons to become slack, thus reducing their ability to transmit force, Gergley suggests.

Gergley's next study will be to evaluate whether the consumption of several beers assists in transmitting force on a golf ball.

"Couple Arrested after Argument Involving Knife, Golf Club"

Once again, golf equipment gets a bad rap. In this case, a 19-year-old woman was found beating a bedroom door with a golf club when deputies arrived on the scene of a Fort Myers Shores (Fla.) dispute Monday. After entering the house they found Vanessa Rayner pummeling the door, trying to attack 34-year-old Timothy Williams, who she claimed was guilty of infidelity. After trying to stab Williams with a knife while the police were present, Rayner grabbed a golf club and swung it at the man.

Police said Rayner didn't connect, but had a nice right-to-left draw.

"La. Golf Pro Arrested on Theft Charge"

A golf pro at Bayou Country Club in Thibodaux, La., has been busted for stealing more than $6,400 from his employer. James Schilling, 35, was charged with one count of theft and was later released on a $1,000 bond. Apparently, Schilling has had his hands in the till for the past three years.

He's also taught golf at Nicholls State University for around 13 years, according to the report in the Lafourche Parish Daily Comet.

This confirms that college students don't tip worth a damn.

"Neighbors Complain about Hunters Killing Geese at Golf Course"

Way on the other side of the country in McMinnville, Ore., camouflage-clad hunters armed with shotguns have been tackling a long-time problem with geese at Bayou Golf Course. Co-owner Greg Brown has hired licensed goose hunters to rid the course of these avian poop-machines, much to the consternation of area homeowners.

"You don't expect to get up one day and look out over your deck and see people killing things off in your backyard," said Claudia Williams, a neighbor who was awakened one morning by the sound of gunfire.

Brown says he's tried everything to eradicate the geese, which cause thousands of dollars in damage by digging holes in the turf searching for worms. "The lasers, the silhouettes, the cannons: That stuff, it just doesn't work," he said.

A sidebar described dozens of golfers in a Bayou tournament teed off two hours ahead of time after the shotgun start.

"Woman Drives SUV into Golf Course Lake"

In Texas, a 42-year-old woman drove her green Mitsubishi Montero straight through a "T-intersection," across Lubbock Country Club and into a lake at the course. Officials said her SUV was launched into the pond from six feet off the shoreline.

Police said it happened sometime last night, but Brenna Tanner was not discovered until about nine o'clock this morning when a golf course employee wadded into the pond and rescued her.

Though police say alcohol may be a factor, they're uncertain whether the motorist did passive, static stretching exercises prior to the accident.

"Severed Arm Found on Golf Estate"

A severed arm was discovered on the river bank of a golf estate at the Irene Country Club in Centurion, South Africa, according to Gauteng police. The decomposing left arm, which had all its fingers intact, was found by a caretaker at the course.

"We don't know if the arm belonged to a man or a woman and police are still searching for a body."

Follow-up reports indicate that the arm was a woman's, and that law enforcement had to be alert for flying golf balls. But the grisly discovery didn't bother the golfers, who at times warned police to look out for wayward shots and asked them if they could pick up their golf balls.

Meanwhile, allegations continue to rage that the green fees at Irene CC cost an arm and a leg.

"Dog Rescued from Hindley Lake"

A German Shepherd ran onto an ice-covered lake at Hindley Hall Golf Course in England and fell into the water. Using a Hansa board, firemen crept across the frozen expanse to pull the dog to safety. "He was very pleased to see us," said watch manager Mark Doherty from the Eccles fire station.

"When we got him back the RSPCA gave him a closer look-over and he was all right. Luckily he had a thick coat to keep him warm. I think it would have been a different story if it was one of those breeds with short hair."

So, here's a warning to all you American Hairless Terriers and Chinese Crested owners: keep your mutts indoors or if they do go outside, be sure to put on their Izod outerwear!

And finally, on a happier note, comes this from Florida:

"Wellington Community Celebrates Holiday Parade Golf Style"

Residents in the community around Wycliffe Golf and Country Club celebrated the holidays with a golf theme, dolling up their golf carts to look like Mardi Grad floats, big metal robots and other creative concoctions.

"It's just fun. We have a good time and we get to be part of the party," said Arthur Citirin, one of about 70 people who participated in their second annual golf cart holiday parade December 27th.

Among the entrants was Ron Orbach, who teamed up with his three grandchildren to deck out his cart as the "Good Ship Lollipop." Jerry Kamler attached paper candy canes and balloons to his cart, while others spent hours transforming their vehicles.

Resident Dan Gower and his three grandchildren used aluminum foil, PVC pipe and duct tape to convert his cart it into a big silver box that was supposed to be a robot. "I just hope it doesn't blow away," Gower said, looking at the 5-gallon bucket covered in aluminum foil on top of the cart.

No word on whether Iron Byron was a passenger in Gower's rig.

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