Thursday, November 14, 2013

2 Golfers Attacked by Crocs at Cancun Golf Resort

The Iberostar Cancun Golf Club is one of the ritzy golf resorts in the Mexican resort area of Cancun. Unfortunately, it's also been the site of two recent attacks by crocodiles on golfers.

The second attack just occurred: A golfer vacationing from Toronto was attacked by a crocodile that came out of tall grass, latched onto the leg of 58-year-old Dougie Thomson, and tried to drag him away. Thomson's story is told in an article by the UK's Daily Record newspaper (Thomson is originally from Scotland).

The three golfers playing with Thomson eventually freed him from the croc's grasp:

“I didn’t think anything about it until I heard him screaming. I just ran over with my 9-iron in my hand and started beating the crocodile about the head.

“It had already dragged him four or five feet towards the water behind the bushes. When I started hitting it, it stopped but it didn’t let go of him.”

Dougie and Brendan’s cries alerted their friends Gordon Victory and Martin Botwright, who sped towards them on a golf cart. Martin joined Brendan and laid into the beast with his club, while Gordon, from Edinburgh, used the buggy as a weapon.

“It felt like it took forever to get there,” said Gordon.

“The adrenaline was kicking in and I slammed the cart into it a few times. I don’t know why, it was just automatic.”

The croc let go after getting rammed by the cart, grabbed Thomson again, then finally let go for good. The wound on Thomson's thigh was severe; bone was visible, and 200 stitches were required. He says that plastic surgery might be required.

What does Iberostar say? The resort apologized, and added:

... there were warning signs about the crocodiles, and described them as “unique characteristics” of their course.

While I sympathize greatly with Thomson's plight - based on the testimony of the four golfers, Thomson did absolutely nothing wrong - I also sympathize with Iberostar's plight (and also with the crocodile's plight! Hopefully the beating it took didn't cause major injury). Let me explain.

More and more golf resorts around the world are built in wild or nearly wild areas. Why? Because that appeals to people who travel to golf resorts (and other resorts).

Such locations come with inherent risk. It's fun and exciting, for example, to see a baboon on a course in South Africa. But a baboon can be a very dangerous animal, too. Obviously, building a golf resort in crocodile habitat comes with risks to golfers (not to mention even greater risks to the crocs, who might eventually be killed off or driven away), but that wildness is also a selling point to golf travellers.

What's the balance? When does it tip too far towards danger? Does the Iberostar Cancun resort get that balance wrong? We don't have enough information to know the answers. It certainly tipped too far toward danger for Mr. Thomson.

I grew up playing golf courses where snakes and alligators were not uncommon sights. (Of course, gators are far less aggressive than crocs.) Golf courses must warn golfers with clear signage when such animal dangers exist.

And golfers must be careful, prudent and smart. No feeding the wild animals, antagonizing the beasts, approaching the critters, or yelling at them. Keep a safe distance. Even when the animals you've been warned about aren't visible, remain vigilant and don't go wandering through bushes or tall grasses or next to water's edge.

Don't be dumb. There's no indication Thomson was - he appears completely faultless based on the info we have now. But we said at the top that this was the second recent croc attack at the Iberostar Cancun resort.

The first happened two months ago. A New York golfer lost two of his fingers to a crocodile. But according to Iberostar, the croc bit off his fingers when the golfer started feeding it chicken. Dumbass.

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