Golf in the desert Southwest has always been one of my favorite places to play. There is nothing like golf in perfect weather conditions on immaculate rye grass turf. In addition to the perfect golf, the wildlife watching can prove especially interesting to a snowbird from the frozen tundra.
Over the years I have witnessed many desert critters while enjoying a round of golf on a green strip of oasis completely engulfed by the harsh desert environment. On Mother Nature’s wide-angle screen, I have witnessed a broad range of spectacles ranging from a bobcat eating a screaming jackrabbit to the rattlesnake attempting to swallow a huge toad. Other times I have watched while a heard of javelina destroyed the fringe of a green rooting for grub worms and two good friends nearly come to blows over the life of a gila monster.
But one of the most amazing things that I have witnessed happened near Palm Springs last year.
Our golf group, which for years annually traveled to the various golf meccas, was once again together for a too long delayed golf getaway gathering. Big D, who has always been the self-appointed venue scheduler, had arranged mid-morning rounds at five great courses, three of them new to the group. With a little help from Google, Big D had also located two, little off the beaten track, local breakfast spots. One served breakfast potatoes, fried crispy with onions, green peppers and bacon bits covered with a melted blend of cheeses. Two eggs, your way, a thick slice of home cured ham and those potatoes kept you satisfied until beer time at the golfers’ watering holes. The other early morning food stop, near a course we had played before, was famous for omelets with your choice of ingredients plus peppers – hot, hotter and the hottest peppers you ever ate.
It was at the golf course near the pepper place that we witnessed one of Mother Nature’s critters using an unusual tool, a tool found on most every golf course, to attempt to make his own omelet.
It was on the third hole, a pretty little par-3, (the sign said Cart Path Only) as we drove toward the green. We had four balls on the huge green in regulation, nobody close. As we proceeded toward the green, we were wagering on how many putts we would have, as a group, on this Augusta National-like monster green. Big D, in the lead cart, suddenly raised his right arm, the universal sign for STOP, as he eased his cart to a halt.
Just ahead of him a very large roadrunner, straight from the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon, strutted out of the gnarly underbrush onto the concrete cart path. The roadrunner held a white golf ball securely in the tips of his sharp beak. As we watched in silence, the nemesis to the coyote stretched his neck and raised his head to twelve o’clock high. With a lightning quick jerk downward with his head the roadrunner threw the golf ball onto the cart path. With a cracking sound the ball bounced ten to twelve feet high, then proceeded to make two more hops on the cart path before setting in the rye grass beside the path.
The stunned roadrunner grabbed the golf ball with is beak and inspected it for a crack with egg oozing out. No such luck for beep beep roadrunner. Two other attempts at cracking the make-believe egg before the roadrunner beep beeped. Then with the sound we grew up with blasted back into the brush.
Big D said, “I knew monkeys used tools to secure their food supply, but who would believe that a roadrunner would have the native smarts to use a cart path to break an egg.” 14 putts later we proceeded to the 4th tee.
Over a few too many beers we each speculated what was going through the always-intuitive roadrunner’s mind. With a cup of coffee and a shot of Kahlua to sober-up on, Al the Hawkeye said, “I guess you would have to be a roadrunner to know what he was thinking.”