An Ohio man died this past Wednesday at a Nothern Michigan golf resort after being being stung by two dozen bees. He apparently was searching for his ball when he stepped on a hive.
Very sad, and my heart goes out to his family and friends.
Twenty stings is not normally enough to kill a person — unless they are allergic. But it is a cautionary tale, and — along with poison ivy, snakes and other evils — why I don’t go plunging into the brush or woods to find a ball. If my shot looks like it’s headed for parts unknown — or even parts rarely traveled — I hit a provisional. Once I get to where I thought the original exited the second cut, if I don’t see it, I head right to the provisional. I have never thought that saving a couple of shots or the cost of a ball is worth a case of poison ivy or snakebite, or even putting my foot in a gopher hole and straining an ankle or knee.
Dangers of the course and time lost are two reasons why the USGA needs to rethink the stroke-and-distance penalty on lost balls. Not all of us play at the manicured county clubs to which the blue blood USGA officials belong. We also don’t play our rounds with spotters, caddies and forecaddies, volunteer standing near landing zones, or galleries to provide many extra sets of eyes.
Many (most?) players that I encounter already play with a home-brew rule that I think should be generally adopted. When a ball disappears into suspect territory, or cannot quickly be spotted, drop where everyone agrees it was last seen and take a one stroke penalty. It’ll keep the game moving, and reduce the chance of an unfortunate event.