This one’s right out of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and while the incident in question occurred 3,000 miles due west of any New England fairway, when a live shark falls out of the sky and lands on the tee box on a golf course, it’s news even in Boston.
Out of the blue — not unlike the sudden appearance of the gilled critter on the 12th tee at San Juan Hills Golf Club in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. — Michael Felger, one half of the 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & [Tony] Massarotti yakking radio duo, went on a toot on Thursday. His subject, more or less: what the heck is going on?
Here’s what had Felger’s tidy whities all in a twist. At about 4 p.m. local time on Monday, a course marshal discovered a squirming two-foot shark on said tee box and got on the squawk box to the clubhouse for some guidance on how to handle the very much alive thrashing fish.
“It was just wriggling around,” Melissa McCormack, director of operations for the club located some 55 miles from Los Angeles, told the Capistrano Dispatch. “Honestly, this is the weirdest thing that’s happened here.”
The marshal proceeded to put the shark in the back of his golf cart (prompting Golf.com’s Mark Dee to wonder why no one quipped, “You’re going to need a bigger cart“) and drive it to the clubhouse. There, cart attendant Bryan Stizer placed the shark in a bucket he filled with water and some salt, and used his break to drive the animal to the ocean, some four miles away.
After seemingly playing dead for a few seconds, the shark, according to what Stizer told the Dispatch, “did a twist and shot off into the water.”
Best guess as to how what observers believe was a leopard shark (due to its light brown color and black spots) got to the 12th tee, since it apparently had not made a tee time, was that one honking huge predatory bird plucked its prey from the Pacific and deposited it on the course.
Marine wildlife specialists told the publication that leopard sharks were common to West Coast bay areas and shallow waters from Oregon south to Mexico. We’re guessing, however, that the experts had never before heard of one waiting patiently to tee off.
With Hurricane Sandy now barreling toward the East Coast, you may want to pack a heavy-duty umbrella for your next golf date because fish falling from the sky is not so unusual an occurrence as you may wish to believe. According to various sources on the Internet — so you know it’s true — fish and other lake or ocean creatures can get sucked up by waterspouts during storms. The gale-force winds that accompany such squalls occasionally blow fish, frogs, and snakes (no word about alligators) miles inland and drop them on golfers and other unsuspecting mainland inhabitants.
San Juan Hills GC, by the way, offers a free round of golf if you register online, but the website mentions nothing about a rain check if an airborne shark lands on your head during your back swing.
As for Felger, sharks seem to be something of an obsession, so this week’s story was right in his wheelhouse.
“Sharks have become an issue,” he complained this past summer as his cohorts mocked his fears. “There’s a lot of them out there.”
Yes, yes there are. And you might want to let them play through.
Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. You may follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminerWHAT'S YOUR REACTION?