Some golf course hazards are health hazards, too

The hazards faced by most Marion County golfers are rather routine?a little water here and there, a scorching Kansas wind and maybe an occasional wandering skunk or snake.

When I used to golf, I found water in places no one else could find it. In fact, if you ever need help finding water anywhere, just give me a golf club and golf ball and I can probably find it.

Lest you think all course hazards are created equal, check out some of these bizarre situations.

Some golfers got a firsthand look at a young black bear?s antics on the green on the Fairmont Hot Spring Resort Golf Course in Alberta, Canada. At one point, the young bear spotted one of the golfer?s balls a few feet from the hole and wandered over to take a look.

The bear played with the flag stuck into one of the holes on the course, and then upped the ante by stealing the ball, because apparently it doesn?t see why it couldn?t participate in the game.

A golf course in South Carolina has some unusual hazards. Drives have to be straight to stay out of trouble. The second hole is interesting, with a green guarded by a pond to the right, a bunker to the left and a 10-foot alligator in front. When they advise you not to stray off the fairway, they mean it. There are alligators and snakes in abundance.

On one occasion, a herd of bison made itself at home on the Jackson Hole Golf Course in Jackson, Wyo. Asking if you can play through probably isn?t advised in this case.

The course superintendent says the damage to the greens can be a headache. State wildlife officials have tried to shoo the bison away with sprinklers and noise makers, but in the end, club officials say the bison usually get their way.

According to a story on the Internet, course rules have changed. The holes with bison on them are now Par 30s.

Meanwhile, golfers at the Matterhorn Golf Club in Taesch, Switzerland, faced a slightly unusual hazard one time when a boulder fell from an adjacent mountain and landed on one of the greens.

It?s probably not surprising to learn that the Estes Park Golf Course in Colorado might have issues with wild elk, especially during the fall rut. A few years ago, 100-150 elk overran the course, ramming golf carts, butting heads and creating a daily clean-up routine.

Then there?s the case of a college golf tournament that was called off in Texas because of an unusual hazard: bees. A limb from a tree holding an estimated 70,000 bees fell and exposed a beehive at Waterchase Golf Club in Fort Worth.

Have you ever heard of a golf club being a hazard? Scientists have determined that striking a rock while swinging a titanium club can create a shower of sparks that are hot enough and last long enough to start a brush fire.

Researchers at the Uni?ver?sity of California, Irvine, cleared up what fire officials in Southern California saw as a mystery in 2010: two golf course fires, including one that burned 25 acres and injured a firefighter.

In both incidents, golfers using 3-irons with titanium-alloy heads had said they hit the ground that created sparks and started the fires.

But there?s an equally or even more bizarre story. In 2011, workers encountered some explosive situations while rebuilding a golf course in St. Louis.

During the course of their work, they unearthed three unexploded World War I mortar shells. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say the mortars resembled a small-car muffler.

The Corps said that as early as 1917, the Army conducted military exercises and demonstrations in Forest Park. The shows included mock battles, which may explain why the mortars were on the golf course.

As Joe Barks wrote, ?It looks like the Army was serious when it executed ?flop? shots in the early 1900s.?