If You See a Snake, Hit It

August 25, 1963

Is it a polo player with a broken mallet? No. It is amateur golfer William Felder III, trotting happily toward his golf ball. Felder is one of 12 members of the Bella Vista Golf Club near Mexico City who recently set out to play one of the longest golf holes ever. For eight miles they hacked and slashed their way across open country lying between their club and the 9th green of La Hacienda Golf Club. No lie was considered unplayable, no method of travel was illegal. The point was to get there.

Four teams, each consisting of one pro and two amateurs, moved out at 9:30 in the morning, equipped for any contingency. Besides 12 horses, the players took along a snake-bite kit. a revolver and a jeep filled with sandwiches, booze, quinine water and olives. For seven hours they swarmed over the rugged terrain, their banner an 18th-hole flag with a skull and crossbones on it. Along the way the golfers faced such exotic hazards as fleshy-leaved maguey plants (right), dense woods, streams without bridges and even a trash dump (top).

At the insistence of Bella Vista's Paul Deutz, who organized the zany affair, the players limited themselves to three clubs—a two-wood, a five-iron and a pitching wedge. Thus restricted, they showed amazing resourcefulness when confronted by lies seldom met on the golf course. At left, the no longer smiling Felder, who had a full bag of clubs anyway, does some landscaping before attacking the ball in a furrow on a plowed field. Unsure when they set out what local reaction their odyssey would cause, the players found their audiences too stunned to raise objections to their bizarre trespasses. At one point, two teams of startled soccer players broke off their game to gape at the whooping golfers. The outing was more than faintly suggestive of a duffer's nightmare. Ten balls were never found, two more landed in a river and one sank in a small lake. "Eight miles," said one sagging competitor as he boarded his mount for the final jog to the green, "is an awfully long way to hit a golf ball. "

As a gaily clad band at La Hacienda scraped away on violins in not very close harmony, the weary trail blazers were greeted by wives and fellow golfers, toasted with beer and festooned with leis. The team of Juan Neri, Bella Vista professional, and amateurs Felder and Fernando Villa won. They holed out in a respectable 114, Villa slamming home the winning putt with his two-wood. As all hands engaged in a celebration that included dancing on tabletops, organizer Deutz commented contentedly, "Enthusiasm ran astonishingly high." His next project: a tournament at night, same course, using fluorescent golf balls.

SEVEN PHOTOSFELIPE CHANO PHOTOFELIPE CHANOPosing like Iwo Jima flag raiser, caddie shows way to distant green. PHOTOFELIPE CHANOBunkered behind Indian and her burro, golfer bellows futile "Fore!" PHOTOFELIPE CHANOArriving at last at green, adventurers are greeted by mariachi band.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)