Florida golfers are used to the unusual hazards that appear on the links from time to time in the form of large alligators, but even locals who have golfed for years say the one at Buffalo Creek Golf Course in Palmetto, Fla., is the biggest they’ve ever seen.
Buffalo Creek’s design and location make it almost a perfect nature preserve. A waterway connects the entire course leading ultimately to a large reservoir at its northern end and much of the property is fenced off, making it an ideal protection area. Regional Manager Ken Powell believes that is helping local wildlife thrive within the course
At the top of the food chain is an estimated 15-foot alligator drawing attention from around the world.
On Friday, just days after a video of the monster went viral, Powell was fielding phone calls from news stations from Scotland, Japan and Australia. A few other calls came in from around the country from golfers wanting to play the course that is home to the now-famous gator. Powell said the alligator only makes an occasional appearance.
“You can be out here for days and never see him,” said Powell. “It’s mating season now, so he’s been all over the course, but there are times when months go by without anyone seeing him.”
The near record-breaking gator was the first Powell ever saw when he started working the course five years ago.
“Coming from California, you don’t see alligators,” he said. “The first time I saw him was something else, and now everything pales in comparison.”
Ken Seamon has been golfing the course for more than 12 years. He said he’s only seen the gator once this year, and it was quite the show.
“He’s a big guy,” said Seamon. “The first time I saw him a few years ago, my reaction was, ‘Wow.’ I’ve only seen him once this year, but he was chasing a smaller gator and that little guy was scampering just as fast he could get.”
Seamon doesn’t know if the bigger gator was successful in its attack, but golf course legend says the monster gator killed a 10-foot gator last year. Powell said it’s likely true.
“Of all the alligators around this area, he’s the only one that walks the course,” he said. “He’s the boss of the moss around here. That 10-footer was on the course and he likely ran across the big one. He’s the king here. This is his course.”
Powell said it’s important for people to know the alligator is not a nuisance and is just part of the golf course. When representatives of the popular television series, “Gator Boys,” called to volunteer to remove the gator, Powell said no chance.
“He’s not going anywhere,” he said.
Powell said staff and members are perfectly content to let the alligator live out his life as king of the course.
“He’s created no problems and he’s probably been here long before this was even a golf course,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone try to take a selfie with a 15-foot gator, but it’s not like you can’t see him coming.”