Teed Off (Dec 14, 2014)

Update: December, 14/2014 - 22:25

with Robert Bicknell

In a recent story, a golfer in South Africa got eaten by a crocodile while fishing for golf balls in a pond on the golf course. Yes, he was a bit stupid for being waist deep in water in an area known to be frequented by crocodiles. Sadly, this is not the first time golfers have ignored warnings regarding potentially dangerous situations. In fact, golfers in Florida are constantly getting chased or nipped by alligators - despite warnings posted in the clubhouse, on the scorecards and even on huge signs by the side of the water hazards.

Look, if you see a sign saying "Warning - alligators" or such, it means DON'T go near the water. Consider it a lost ball, take a drop and move on. It's simply not worth losing your arm or leg over… or worse, your life.

Here in SE Asia, we have snakes… lots of snakes. For the most part, they stay away from humans, but occasionally we get too close. Rule one: leave it alone. Rule two: see rule one.

Stupidity happens all the time, but when something bad happens which could have been avoided simply by being aware of your surroundings, it becomes a tragedy, or a potential Darwin award winner. Swimming with crocodiles would most definitely qualify for the award, but sometimes bad things happen to good people simply through a twist of fate.

Last week, Phillip Hughes, an Australian cricketer, died two days after he was struck in the head by a ball. While this was a freak accident, it proves that the unfortunate can happen.

Baseball players are at risk of being hit by pitches or batted balls. US Football players risk broken bones, concussions or even broken necks. Ice Hockey players the same. Imagine getting rammed head first into the boards, or going ass over tea kettle, head first on to the ice. It usually doesn't end well.

Here in Viet Nam, we have another problem which people – especially caddies – seem to not understand…

The momentum of a well-hit drive – just after impact – is roughly equivalent to that of a bullet fired out of a typical 22-caliber rifle. The golf ball which weighs 1.62 oz. can exceed 150-mph (miles per hour) after impact with a driver swung at 110-mph.

Just after impact, a person hit by a golf ball would experience similar contact forces as that of being struck by a 22-caliber bullet fired from a rifle with the speed of 750-mph.

Remember that next time you hear "fore" or you're thinking about to hitting into a slow playing group in front of you. However, a golf ball does experience drag force during flight that reduces the velocity by more than 50 per cent by the time it lands, but will still leave a bump on your head.

The closer you are to the ball leaving the clubface, the more damage it will do to you.

Fun fact: A swing of 110-mph can result in the ball going from rest to 150-mph in 0.0005 seconds. Cool, eh?

Back in the US, I once drove a golf ball through a phone book to prove a point. Bubba Watson likes to do it with watermelons… I just gotta try doing it with a watermelon!

Caddies sometimes forget where they are and walk right into the path of a golf ball, or worse, into the swing arc of a golf club. Yes, as you might expect, the golf club – being steel and travelling sometimes at 90-mph – can do serious damage to you. Granted, most times they get whacked on the backswing, which is a bit preferable to the downswing or follow through, but either way, it doesn't end well…

So it pays to be careful when you're in a situation where you could get struck by a ball or club. Yet, there are caddies – often trainees – who have no idea of the surroundings and tempt fate.

Clubs train their caddies as best they can. Warning posters are all over the caddieshack, reminding them to be aware of their immediate surroundings, but occasionally accidents do happen.

The player needs to be aware that not all caddies are rocket scientists and, therefore, should make sure it is safe to swing the club before doing so. — VNS