Perhaps little can fluster a group of U.S. Marines, but a monster set out to try Saturday.
Gunnery Sgt. Michael Zimmer was playing golf with two retired Marine friends on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island when a large alligator sauntered down the 17th fairway. The group had already seen several gators on the course, but none like this.
“All of them laying on the banks of the ponds,” Zimmer said in a text message Monday. “But this was the last one, enormous, and the only one moving.”
Zimmer and a playing partner recorded gator’s stroll. Zimmer’s video had been watched more than 55,000 times on Instagram as of Monday morning.
Gators are more active in the Lowcountry now that the weather is warm.
Fripp Island officials reminded the public this month not to feed or harass the beasts after resort visitors threw carrots at an 11-foot alligator.
At the RBC Heritage golf tournament on Hilton Head Island in April, a gator sighting caused PGA Tour player Luke Donald to immediately change course.
The best way to handle an alligator encounter is to give the animals a wide berth, Fripp Island naturalist Jessica Miller told The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet this month.
“These animals are really simple,” she said. “They like to be in their water or bask right by it. We just need to stay back. When they do move pond to pond, the big ones like this know exactly where they are going, and their destination is the only thing on their mind.”
The Legends Golf Course on Parris Island is home to a 12-foot gator known as “Fred,” said head golf professional Andy Hinson. He doesn’t believe the gator Zimmer’s group encountered was Fred, noting that Fred is fatter and with different colors.
Signs at the first and 10th tees and on the road to the golf course warn golfers that common sense and state law bar feeding alligators.
Some of the Parris Island gators recently had babies and are frequently photographed on the course, he said. Fred usually hangs out in a pond between No. 17 and No. 11.
“But he goes wherever he wants,” Hinson said.