As far as golf course experiences go, one of the most rare occurrences is the hole-in-one. Yet, being bitten by an alligator while diving for golf balls is probably even rarer. Being bitten for a second time by an alligator while diving for golf balls has to be off the chart, but it happened to Stephen Martinez, a 51-year-old Pompano Beach man, on Wednesday.
The Sun Sentinel reported that contract worker Stephen Martinez was diving for golf balls in a pond near the second hole of Bonaventure Country Club when a 9-foot alligator chomped down on his left hand and then fortunately let go. Martinez quickly swam to the edge of the pond while the gator followed after him. Fortunately, he escaped and jumped into a nearby golf cart and drove to the club’s pro shop, where a staff member phoned 911.
“He was very lucky. It could’ve grabbed his head,” said club general manager Randy Webber. His hand “was all mangled. It looked like it hurt a lot.” Nevertheless, an employee of the club said that “he was calm about it the whole time.”
Martinez was taken to the Cleveland Clinic emergency room and treated for minor injuries and did not suffer any nerve injuries. He said that the alligator just “snapped… The gator was just being a gator, and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Notably, this is the second time the Florida man was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Back in April of 2006, Martinez was also diving for golf balls when he was attacked by an alligator who also took a bite of his left hand.
Martinez, who was 43 at the time was bitten while searching for errant golf balls in one of the murky ponds at the Lakes of Boynton Beach golf course. According to the Sun Sentinel, officials surmised that the gator may have been protecting a nest or was simply startled by the intruder.
Martinez explained that the seven-foot gator clamped down on his left hand, but fortunately released him which gave Martinez the opportunity to swim away. Later the Florida man was taken to JFK Medical Center for treatment.
Martinez said at the time that he had seen alligators before while diving and that they normally stay away from human beings. Someone was probably feeding it and that would have accounted for the gator’s aggressiveness, he contended.
In the earlier incident a trapper captured the creature and it was destroyed as a “nuisance alligator.” The gator in the recent episode was trapped and will be relocated, but will not be released back into the wild.
Although Martinez admits he is scared to get back into the water, he will once again take the dive. “It’s not just my job,” he said. “It’s an adventure.”