Warning! We’re about to go all Mickey McCord Safety Meeting on you, so pay attention and learn about one of the most dangerous things on your golf course. No, it’s not a chainsaw, the dimpled projectile, nasty, slippery restrooms, hovering mowers or crocodiles.
It’s THE DANGLER.
The Dangler has caused several of those injuries that still reside in my gray matter hard drive, no matter how often I delete them. (That’s saying a lot, because I have witnessed quite a few injuries.)
During my unsuccessful training period as a Special Forces Medic, I saw all kinds of trauma. Before the Army realized I was incapable of medical competence, they ran me through a variety of training, ranging from combat medic to 90 days in an Emergency Room. (There was also that period referred to as “Goat Lab”, but I will not speak of that.) My first night in the ER, the radio popped and crackled, warning us that five Navy Seals were coming in on a Huey, apparently blown up in a demo accident. I handled that poorly, rousting everyone out of bed, merely because I had no idea what to do.
After that, I saw parachute accidents, burns, a couple of gunshot wounds and a battered husband. One night, the ER was inundated with 82nd Airborne types who had been injured while attempting to occupy a local honky-tonk. The indigenous personnel, armed with tire irons, had vigorously resisted and the result was several paratroopers with impressive lacerations. The doctor, nurses and the real medics were busy sewing up tire iron wounds, but were falling behind. The doctor yelled, “Wilson, suture that leg wound!”
It was a hideous gash from just below the knee, extending several inches alongside the shin and terminating in the lower calf region. As I think back on that incident, I shouldn’t have said, “Yes, sir, but I’ve never sewed anybody up before.”
I had successfully sewn up several oranges . . .
The trooper in question, a rather stout fellow, screamed and tried to escape—the technical military term is “un-ass the area”—but was gleefully restrained by several Military Police intent upon helping me accomplish my mission. I comforted the patient by telling him that I had successfully sewn up several oranges and then I demonstrated my nimble dexterity by fumbling the fish hook shaped needle used to close wounds. By the time I got through, the wound was worse than when I started, but the patient had a very impressive Frankenstein scar that he could make up all sorts of war stories about. On the positive side, the MPs had enjoyed a wonderful evening of wrestling inebriated paratroopers and I had learned the medical field did not need me.
Years later, while coaching high school football, I saw a compound femur fracture. During my bicycle racing phase, I witnessed several broken clavicles. These featured bones sticking out of skin, accompanied by lots of blood and hysterical shrieking. (The paramedics said shrieking unnerved the victim, so I quit that.)
On the golf course, I saw all kinds of chaos: Chainsaw accidents, partial amputations caused by hovering mowers, a hand trapped under an engine when a hoist failed . . . and an old fellow pinned in a bunker by an aerifier from the Jurassic period. (You remember, those exposed crankshaft models?) Since we didn't have cell phone cams in those days, instead of taking his picture, I hastily got the monster off of him.
I’ve seen golf ball impacts produce knots the size of apples, watched lightning explode a tree beside a golfer, who mentally destabilized and provided the afternoon's entertainment by running in circles and howling about Judgement Day. Once a week, I watched Buddy spill enough blood on the shop floor to shoot a chainsaw maniac horror movie. (Tara, Buddy’s bride, warned me not to give him access to sharp objects, but I thought she was kidding.)
But it was THE DANGLER that stands out in my tiny mind. It was '93, when a course marshal--who had ignored my warnings--drove past me dangling his left foot from his golf car. Suddenly, the old fellow was tossed from the cart onto the hard, cold asphalt of the parking lot.
His foot was almost completely ripped off, barely holding on by a single thread of soft tissue; blood pumped out like a broken 3” main. Golfers immediately circled around like vultures, trying to help by yelling things like, “His foot is gone, his foot is gone!”
I radioed for help, put on a tourniquet and treated the old guy for shock. The only thing I could remember from my medic training was to lie about how bad the injury was. “You’re gonna be fine, don’t worry.”
Fortunately he didn't see the golf pro faint.
Next, I had to disperse the onlookers, because my patient became distressed when he heard a golfer puking. Fortunately he didn't see the golf pro faint.
The lesson here is, golf cars and utility vehicles are dangerous--and it’s not just The Dangler. Just watch The Youtube and stare in awe as hundreds of imbeciles jump bunkers like Bo Duke, run over each other with golf cars and spin 360s down slick, grassy, wet hills.
The Net says there are 15,000 golf car accidents per year, possibly more, with 10% of them being rollovers. I suspect most of those are not golf related, but The Youtube is heavily weighted toward golf idiots. Most of these numbskulls are unaware of the Law of Skateboard Injury, which states “Just because it heals up and you feel better, doesn’t mean it won’t come back when you’re 40 and hurt like hell forever.”
Golf course veterans all know that golf courses are inherently dangerous, with wild, irregular surfaces lying in ambush just off that path. We know a tractor will roll on a steep hill—isn’t that what those rollbars are for? We expect spray rigs to get hinky with the slightest weight shift . . . we’ve seen machines flip into those bunkers put too close to the green by architects with no superintendent experience. We’ve watched a lake grab a slick-tired triplex, we've ridden a rough unit as it bucks and spins downhill into the trees and calmly observed golfers launch a golf car off a bridge at full speed.
We know how to handle this: Crews need constant reminders to drive in a cautious manner, especially the newer crew members. They all need to be told about The Dangler, even if they think it's a myth.
As for golfers? They won’t listen. They can’t read signs. Golfers think the golf course is a magical theme park where Driving Under the Influence and gravity does not exist. At best, all we can do is repeatedly tell them, “Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.”