Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

The Loop

John Peterson's 5 tips for dealing with gators on the golf course

May 19, 2014

John Peterson was a three-time All American and an NCAA individual champion at Louisiana State University, but now, in addition to golf, the Baton Rouge resident is known for his handling of gators. This skill came in handy at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans when he calmly moved a gator so playing partner James Driscoll could play his next shot, and it serves him well when the pesky reptiles frequently cross his path during practice at home.

"We catch gators at my home course, it's a regular occurrence in Louisiana," Peterson said. "We see them almost daily where I practice and where I hang out."

Wait, back up a minute. Did he say catch gators? How the. . . ?

"You throw a treble hook over its back, and then you foul hook him in the back," said Peterson, who helped someone from wildlife control catch a six-foot gator two weeks prior to the Zurich Classic. "And then you pull him in and you put him in a tube that's about the length of the gator, and you cover the back so he can't get out. And then you put it in the back of the truck."

Oh, that's all?

While catching gators is a bit extreme, we decided to ask John for some basic advice on dealing with gators on the golf course. You know, so you can possibly save a golf ball (they can be expensive!) and keep up with the group in front. Here are five tips that he shared with us. Try them at your own risk. Or don't. (You probably shouldn't.)

1. Size it up

"It was a six- or seven-footer. It wasn't life-threatening, so I figured I would move it so James Driscoll could play." Seven-foot gators aren't life threatening? Really? Could have fooled us.

2. See which way it's facing

"You can't mess with it when it's looking at you. You've got to get it from the back." Yeah, but couldn't it just turn around? Never mind. . .

3. Use a rake (if you don't have your gator-catching gear handy)

"He was in a spot where he was easy to move, if you knew what you were doing." Again, Peterson knows what he's doing.

4. Don't just tap it

"It won't even feel it. You've got to let it know you're there. Driscoll's caddie was just tapping it with the rake, so I just grabbed it and gave it a good shove into the water." Silly caddie.

5. Don't be afraid

"Go ahead and go for it." OK, but why? "Because I've gotten more publicity for that than for anything else I've done this year." Hmm. But what if the cameras aren't rolling?