Jungle Golf an Adventure

By Associated PressDecember 26, 2003, 5:00 pm
PHALABORWA, South Africa -- At the Hans Merensky Estate, golfers face more than the usual hazards of flying balls and runaway carts.
``Seven years ago, we had a cheetah kill a pregnant impala on No. 4,'' said Leon Pappas, 73, the club's oldest member and former head pro. ``We had to close the whole nine for the day.''
Bordering one of Africa's largest game reserves, the 18-hole course features a unique mix of manicured greens and wild bush. Warthogs root around for food on the edge of the putting green and giraffes sip from the ponds on the 475 acres.
The club, 225 miles from Johannesburg, was built in 1967 by the Phalaborwa Mining Company for employees of its copper operation. It was sold to its current owners two years ago.
From the entrance, a dirt road winds past a group of frolicking Vervet monkeys, along rolling fairways lined with thatched-roofed chalets, and into thick bush at the southern end of the course.
Skirted by Kruger National Park on its eastern border and the smaller Cleveland Private Game Park to the south, the owners found it impossible to keep animals off the course - so they embraced them.
An opening in the perimeter fence lets in antelope and crocodiles, but is low enough to discourage all but the most determined elephants and buffalo.
The animals are now the main reason why people play golf there.
``My wife can join me on the course,'' Belgian tourist Arne Secelle said. ``I play. She looks for animals. It's great.''
Martina Gronwald and Adi Van der Walt traveled from Germany for the experience.
``We had a big giraffe walking with us the whole way yesterday,'' Van der Walt said.
Besides tourists from Europe, Asia and the United States, the club also attracts locals. Donover Jon Wyk, a 17-year-old student, plays the course so often he has become almost blase about the wildlife.
``A herd of springbok on the fairway is no big deal,'' he said.
Golfers must sign an indemnity form before they can play. Game specialist Greg Austin takes a morning sweep of the perimeter to make sure the more dangerous animals haven't gotten in during the night.
``We've never missed an animal yet,'' Austin said. ``It's easy, we just look for the tracks.''
Although the delicate Hyena tracks were hard to spot, an elephant left a sizable calling card. A barrier made of steel bars strung with barbed wire and 10,000-volt electrical fencing was snapped nearly in two.
Austin jumped into his truck and raced along the rocky back roads. The animal was spotted grazing among the trees. A helicopter herded the elephant back to the game reserve.
During the elephant's jaunt, the pro shop suspended all tee times. After spending an hour watching TV or eating a second breakfast, many visitors gave up on playing that day.
``I think they are overly cautious when they see big game,'' grumbled Roelf Duploy, a 20-year club member.
``We have been playing next to lions and leopards, buffalo and elephants, and nothing has happened,'' added Duploy's playing partner and 40-year member, Thys Fourre, 73.
But head pro Sean Pappas, Leon's son, isn't taking any chances. In 1998, a German visitor was trampled to death by an elephant when she frightened the animal with the her camera flash. It was the course's only fatality, and Pappas intends to keep it that way.
``We take extra precautions,'' he said. ``The tourists' naivety about big game and predators can put them at risk.''
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Watch: Rory finds trouble, and more trouble, and more ...

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 4:33 pm

Rory McIlroy was in a must-win situation against Brian Harman in order to have a chance to advance to the one-and-done portion of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

And, as you can see, McIlroy did not get off to an ideal start on Friday.

McIlroy lost the third, fifth and ninth holes at Austin Country Club. Harman led, 3 up, at the turn.

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Watch: Stefani makes hole-in-one, has no clue

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 3:18 pm

Shawn Stefani made a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th in the second round of the Corales Puntacana Resorts and Club Championship.

However, he never saw it go in.

Stefani knew he hit a great shot, and this isn't shown in the video below, but he just questioned everyone around him if they saw the ball go into the hole.

A Golf Channel cameraman finally gave him the news and Stefani responded with an enthusiastic thumbs up.

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Trio lead Kia Classic; Davies shoots 82

By Associated PressMarch 23, 2018, 3:01 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Laura Davies had a nightmare round days after contending for a title at age 54, and Caroline Hedwall, Jackie Stoelting and Hee Young Park topped the Kia Classic leaderboard.

Davies shot a 10-over 82 on Thursday at rainy Aviara Golf Club - four days after tying for second behind Inbee Park in the Founders Cup, and five days after shooting a 9-under 63 in the Phoenix event.

Fighting Achilles tendon and calf problems in her left leg, Davies opened double bogey-bogey-par-bogey. She bogeyed Nos. 9, 10 and 12, had another double on 15 and bogeyed 16. The 82 was the World Golf Hall of Famer's highest score on tour since also shooting 82 in the 2013 Marathon Classic. On Monday, she jumped 208 spots to No. 155 in the world.

Hedwall, Stoelting and Park shot 66 in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills. Ariya Jutanugarn, also coming off a second-place tie in Phoenix, was a stroke back with 2015 champion Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim and Nicole Broch Larsen.

Hedwall closed her bogey-free round with birdies on the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth. The Swede played her final 10 holes in 6 under. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways because of the damp conditions.

''I hit it really well and started making a couple putts in my back nine,'' Hedwall said. ''I'm really happy with how I'm playing and looking forward to the rest of the days.''

Stoelting finished with a birdie on the par-4 18th. She had seven birdies and a bogey.

''I hit a lot of fairways,'' Stoelting said. ''I don't necessarily hit if far, but keeping it in the fairway is super key this week. The rough is much thicker this year than last year.''

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Hee Young Park birdied the final three holes, finishing on No. 9.

''The greens are really soft,'' Park said. ''So, easier on the second shot.''

The 40-year-old Kerr had a bogey-free round.

''I like this golf course,'' Kerr said. ''I think it's a tough golf course and you can't fall asleep on any shot. I mean, it's just a really great course. The layout. The rough is high. You got to pay attention. I think that's maybe why I play a little better here than some other places.''

Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 31 on the front nine.

''It's rain today and a little bit windy, but my irons help me a lot,'' Jutanugarn said. ''Just start to make some putts. ... It's pretty tough for me. I always feel like the course here is really hard because the greens really bumpy, and you're not going to hit far here.''

Lydia Ko and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu topped the group at 68.

Ko also played her final nine in 31. She missed the cut last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix.

''I holed some really good putts on my back nine,'' Ko said. ''I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key.''

She won the 2016 event at Aviara.

''This is a pretty tough golf course,'' Ko said. ''Putting is a huge key around this course where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.''

Jennifer Song and Jeong Eun Lee also shot 68. Brooke Henderson had a 69, and Lexi Thompson a 70.

Inbee Park was at 71 with Singapore champion Michelle Wie and 2014 Kia winner Anna Nordqvist. Top-ranked Shanshan Feng had a 72, playing alongside Park. Defending champion Mirim Lee shot 74.

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With old clubs returned, Kim (and new clubs) starts strong at Kia

By Randall MellMarch 23, 2018, 1:53 am

Almost two months after her golf clubs went missing, the same clubs she used to win last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, In-Kyung Kim was happily reunited with them this week.

She fetched them and her golf bag two days ago at the Carlsbad, Calif., police department.

A man bought them as a used set from a sporting goods store in the area, with Kim’s LPGA I.D. still in the golf bag.

Notably, Kim celebrated with a return to the leaderboard Thursday in the first round of the Kia Classic.

Kim opened with a 5-under-par 67, though she didn’t use her newly rediscovered clubs. She stayed with the replacement set that she put together after her clubs went missing. Her Women’s British Open clubs never showed up after she got off a plane in Southern California upon her return home from the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.

“It was really difficult at first,” Kim said of getting used to her new set of clubs. “I really worked hard, like worked a lot, went to the factory like a dozen times.”

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Kim said she made several visits to the factory folks, trying to get the loft and lies of her new clubs just the way she wanted, close to the configuration that helped her win the Women’s British Open.

“They were like, `I.K., are you ever happy?’” Kim said.

Actually, only five of Kim’s “lost” clubs turned up with her golf bag at that sporting goods store. Still, Kim was happy to get three wedges, two hybrids and her golf bag back.

“It’s kind of good to have a conclusion,” Kim said.

Kim can thank a “What’s in the bag?” segment with Ladies European Tour TV analyst Alison Whitaker for leading to the retrieval of her clubs. Kim explained to Whitaker how her clubs went missing during the telecast of the HSBC Women’s World Championship three weeks ago.

A golf fan in the San Diego area saw Golf Channel’s telecast of that segment.

“One of his friends bought the tour bag,” Kim said. “The other friend knew about my story, and he was like, `No, dude, that's not for selling. It's stolen.’”

Kim was delighted to meet the men who returned her clubs when she picked them up at the Carlsbad Police Department.

“Just good for me,” Kim said.