Golf Ball Man Attacked by Amorous Alligator
Posted by Xeno on September 17, 2010
On what could well have been the worst day of his life, Glenn Berger felt something hard and heavy crawl upon his back. It turned out to be an amorous alligator apparently hankering for a mate. At that moment, Berger entertained doubts about the wisdom of his chosen profession, diving for lost balls in Florida golf course ponds.
But the Golf Ball Man didn’t brood. “Alligators are a hazard in my line of work,” he remembers thinking, “but what are the chances of really getting mauled?” Probably small. “What are the chances of getting killed?” Even slimmer.
Still, there was the matter of the dinosaur on his back. At Ibis Country Club in West Palm Beach, as Berger scrambled out of the water that spring morning in 2007, the lovelorn 7-foot alligator slid off without giving him a hickey.
He escaped with a terrific story — and about 4,000 golf balls. Some were worth only a few cents, but 15 percent — about 600 — were Titleist Pro V1s and worth about $2 each, even used.
So what if a sex-starved alligator had tried to take a few liberties?
At Pelican Preserve Golf Course in Fort Myers, the Golf Ball Man pulls on his mask, adjusts his air tank and vanishes into a pond.
Two kinds of golf ball divers work in Florida: those who have experienced underwater unpleasantries and those who soon will. Berger, 35, has a decade of golf ball work and scary stories under his dive belt. His strategy for coping with fear? Denial.
“Really, the best thing you can do,” he says, when he surfaces minutes later with 125 balls, including a half-dozen Pro V1s, “is not to think too much. If you think too much you’ll scare yourself.”
A human invading an alligator habitat, innit?