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Posted by W von Papinešu on April 05, 2003 at 20:32:07:
CONNECTICUT POST (Bridgeport) 05 April 03 Golfer from Shelton escapes gator hazard on S.C. course (Sean O'Hara)
Shelton: A city man escaped with relatively minor injuries after an alligator suddenly lunged at him as he was trying to retrieve a golf ball from a South Carolina pond last week.
Tony Marchitto, 70, of Oak Hill Lane, said that as he descended a 6-foot slope to retrieve the ball at Planters Row Golf Course on Hilton Head Island, he met a 5-foot alligator emerging from the water in attack mode.
Marchitto backed up the slope and struck the gator's snout with his golf club.
"When I was down getting my ball, the alligator came out of the water and got about two feet away from me before I hit it with my club," he said.
The alligator turned and fled back into the pond.
Marchitto returned home from his golf trip last Saturday, a day after the alligator scare.
His doctor in Shelton treated him for a swollen and bruised leg.
Marchitto said that he had a MRI Friday and believes he tore hamstring muscles trying to get away from the gator.
He admits he nearly paid the price for ignoring golf course signs that warn golfers not to go near the water.
However, according to Beardsley Zoo director Gregg Dancho, the chances of an alligator attacking a human are minimal.
"It is very rare for an alligator to bite people. Alligators are normally a non-aggressive species that don't chase people," the director of the Bridgeport facility said.
Dancho said alligators are far more scared of people and the only time an alligator would advance on a human is during the mating season.
But "this is the start of breeding season and bull alligators will defend their nests," Dancho said.
Even during mating season, Dancho said, the alligator would advance only in a "bluff charge." He said an alligator would hiss and open its mouth during a bluff charge.
Dancho said alligators are common on South Carolina golf courses and that a 5-footer is small. He said adults usually range from 7 to 10 feet long.
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Web site, of the more than 750 alligator complaints investigated by the DNR each season, more than half involve alligators smaller than 5 feet long.