Señor Alligator

By RJ Smiley

Hector, the small, obviously poor, maintenance worker at Club De Golf Palma Real in Ixtapa, Mexico pulled his over-loaded cart up next to our cart in the middle of the 5th fairway. He proudly displayed a clear plastic bag of beautifully cleaned Titleist Pro V1’s. Then he asked me, “Senor, want to buy….. golf balls?”

The 5th hole, with a mountain in the background, has a lake on the right that runs the full length of this 400 yard beauty. Bring your camera because the 5th is a great place to observe the numerous alligators that make their home at this fresh water oasis. The fairway is mowed to the water’s edge. On a recent trip to Ixtapa we counted fourteen of these pre-historic monsters sunning themselves lazily along the fairway. The great grand-daddy of them all, who owned the small pond that guards the 4th hole all to himself, died this last winter. When he was dragged off the course by a tractor and weighed, he nearly broke the scale at a whopping 460 kilos (about 1,000 lbs.). His length was over 12 feet.

Luis Valle, my Mexican friend, host, and golf partner gave Hector a friendly greeting in the not-so-perfect-Spanish that is spoken by the locals. I then asked Hector, “How much?” and he replied, “One dollar American.” I knew that Hector could speak very little English, so I said to Luis, “Tell Hector when I owned the golf course in Minnesota we would give our workers $.25 for each golf ball they found on the course.” Luis and Hector had a locals conversation that lasted a minute or two. Then Luis said to me with a big smile on his face, “Hector say, in Minnesota they have no alligators!” For five bucks, I now own six almost new Pro V1’s.