By RJ Smiley
Golf in the desert has created hundreds of oasis where wildlife flourishes and “snow birds” enjoy perfect golf conditions. The variety of critters that make their homes on these man-made oasis add another dimension to desert golf. On this particular morning, the road runners, that unusual looking birds made famous by The Roadrunner Cartoons with Wile Coyote, were the object of our attention.
The double tee for holes #3 & #7, share a common cart path. Standing on the 3rd tee, a par 3, while the group ahead cleared the green, we noticed an especially brave roadrunner. He would stand motionless on the cart path, then stretch his long neck, cock his head and listen. He would then run a few feet down the path and jump into the ornamental grass that bordered the cart path. Then repeat the process. The roadrunner was unconcerned as we mounted our oasis transportation and proceeded to the green. We didn’t think of the roadrunner as we struggled with the long, tough 5th and fished our balls out of the water that runs the length of the 6th.
As we approached the 7th tee, our adopted friend was still patrolling his little patch of cart path. This perfectly designed creature made a quick run then jumped into the grass. Two quick steps and a flash of his beak, the road runner came up out of the decorative grass with a small snake held firmly is his 4 inch vice grips. The roadrunner deftly pinned the squirming snake’s head to the cart path with his long toes. Then a quick, deadly strike with the razor sharp beak the roadrunner nailed the snake directly in the head. He calmly held the snake until it stopped squirming, then with two quick neck-stretching motions swallowed the snake whole.
My playing partners and I had sat motionless in our carts and witnessed this beautiful, feathered, descendent of the dinosaur do his part to keep nature in balance.