The vast tall grass prairie land of Western Nebraska is known for huge cattle ranches, some still practice Open Range where cattle are identified with a branding iron. Few golfers ever thought of Nebraska and golf until Sand Hills Golf Club was developed.
It was a spectacular fall day with bright sunshine, mild breeze with the temperatures in the low fifties. We were on our road trip to see our new grand daughter in Colorado. With stiff backs and tired butts from hours in the car, we were looking for a golf course to take a break and play a quick nine. Imagine the surprise when we found a pretty, little prairie-nine-holer with smooth greens and adequate turf. But, the most impressive thing about the golf course was the nifty display of colorful flowers that separated the cart paths from the tees on every hole.
On the cute little par-3 sixth, I was into my waggle… visualizing how I was going to work my ball around the gnarled old oak tree that guarded the left front of the kidney shaped green. As I stared at the huge old oak with a large single extending from the massive trunk, I had a cattle country flashback: that tree could have been a “hanging tree” for cattle rustlers back in the 1850’s. At the instant where the rustler has the rope around his neck and the ranch foreman was about to slap his quirt on the flank of the rustler’s horse, I heard a scream…. “Eeeeeeeek! Snake!”
In cattle country, my first thought when my wife screamed was a rattle snake.
She was pointing at a small garter snake, perched perfectly on the Gerbera Daisies. The beautiful multicolored reptile was relaxed warming itself in the bright fall sun. I immediately realized, we had to get a picture. She did have our trusty digital camera in her purse and I was able to get several once-in-a-lifetime pictures.
As we continued west on I-80 toward Denver, I tried to get back to that “Cattle Rustler Movie” in the back of my mind. I wanted to see how that old time western ended. But I could never get past the scream.
PHOTO BY R.J. SMILEY, SEPT 2009