This Giant Alligator Crept Across A Florida Golf Course. Then A Guy Told His Friend To Get Closer

In May 2016 Charles Helms was taking part in what should have been a simple round of golf at Buffalo Creek. And while this particular course is somewhat known for its alligators – this is Florida, after all – nothing could have prepared Helms for what happened next. You see, as Helms played the third hole, an enormous beast ambled onto the fairway and left everyone there flabbergasted.

So just how common is the sight of an alligator at this Palmetto-based club? Well, according to some golfers, it’s pretty much par for the course. “This is a great course because you see a lot of gators out here, and there’s some real big ones,” golfer Mike Taketa explained to CBS News in August 2016.

Taketa continued, “They’ll be fighting and running across, so it’s a pretty interesting course. It’s fun. We like watching those guys.” Yet as “interesting” as that must be, players are seemingly not all that bothered by the roaming alligators. In fact, they apparently just carry on playing when they see them.

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Ed Liedy, another regular at the Buffalo Creek course, said, “What most people don’t realize is that these things go very short distances but they tire out quickly. [But] they’re fast for like a short distance. Sort of like us old guys!” So it seems that the sight of a gator here shouldn’t really make the news.

But this gator was something altogether different. The incredible sighting took place in May 2016, with Golf.com uploading a video of it at the end of that month. In the clip, 56-year-old Charles Helms says from behind the camera, “That is the biggest frickin’ alligator I have ever seen in my life.”

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And the alligator creeping its way across the golf course in the video does indeed appear to be a beast. But it seemingly takes no notice of the humans as it saunters around a bunker on the third hole. “This thing must be 15 feet long!” Helms exclaims.

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The golfer then casually jokes, “I think that’s two guys in an alligator suit.” And apparently sensing no threat, Helms even encourages his friend, David Matos, to get as close as possible to the monster “for perspective.” The rest of the video sees the reptile slowly slink off into the distance.

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Yet while the video is clearly astounding, the footage begs the question: why would you film such a thing? Wouldn’t running in the opposite direction be the more natural reaction? When Golf.com posed this question to Helms, however, he had a different opinion. “A better question might be, how can you not record it?” he said.

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Helms further reasoned, “It is very common to see alligators on a Florida golf course, and they’re typically not a threat to golfers. Wild alligators are shy and will not bother you unless you provoke or corner [them] so [they] feel threatened.” It probably didn’t hurt, either, that Helms was further away from the beast than it might have seemed.

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“[The gator] was at a pretty safe distance,” Helms confirmed. “He was so large he would only move about 100 feet before having to lie down and rest. So we probably weren’t in as much danger as it may have appeared.” Still, it’s undoubtedly best that no one tests out that theory any time soon.

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In fact, Tim Geist, a licensed alligator trapper, told CBS news in 2016 that people should assume that all gators are going to attack. “A lot of the public doesn’t understand… that when they feed an alligator, they’re creating a monster,” he said. “All of a sudden he sees you as a potential meal.”

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Still, former Buffalo Creek Golf Course general manager Ken Powell seemingly didn’t have a problem with a giant gator stalking his course. “He’s not a nuisance alligator,” explained to CBS in 2016. “We have no plans to have anybody come and take him away. He’s not hurting anybody.”

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Indeed, Powell told to CBS news that the reptile had been parading around the course for many years. Other staff members also revealed that the gator probably lives in a nearby reservoir and only pops up in search of food – or relations. But whatever the case, his appearance was certainly a hit online.

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After all, the original video has been viewed almost 24 million times on YouTube. Plus, the gator’s popularity seemingly led to an online poll that saw it get a new nickname. So what did the former “Boss of the Moss” become? Well, in honor of an alligator in the Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore, the monster’s name is now “Chubbs.”

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And fortunately, this wasn’t the last time that Chubbs was seen doing the rounds. In fact, in February 2018 a maintenance worker for the course recorded Chubbs making a welcome return to the grounds. “It’s the same gator that’s been out here for 25 years,” manager Ryan Henderson told Florida’s Bradenton Herald in 2018.

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This time, however, Chubbs made his grand entrance on the eighth hole instead of the third. But there’s apparently a body of water between holes three and eight, so perhaps the beast wasn’t moving too far from his base. The gator also brought along a few friends on this visit: a number of vultures who walked in his wake.

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Yet although it was still being reported that Chubbs is 15 feet long, this might not actually be the case. Indeed, Melody Kilborn of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told the Bradenton Herald, “There are no official measurements of a 15-foot alligator.”

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Whatever the gator’s real size, though, it’s perhaps understandable that Chubbs has become something of a course mascot. Indeed, back in 2016 a course employee told Florida’s News 3, “People have heard that [Chubbs] is out here and that is all they want to see. So, they bring spectators to ride [along] so somebody can get a picture.”

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But the one piece of advice that any visitor to Buffalo Creek should take heed of is to always be cautious. Kilborn said, “We always recommend being aware of your surroundings [and] to keep a safe distance from any alligators you see.” Even Henderson confessed that he “wouldn’t get too close.”

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So there you have it. If you want a game of golf with the added possibility of a giant gator sighting, then the Buffalo Creek Golf Course is apparently the place to be. But if you’re just after a nice quiet round, then maybe steer well clear of Florida…

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