Fact Check

Giant Alligator Spotted on Florida Golf Course

Large reptiles strolling around links are not an unusual sight in the Sunshine State.

Published May 31, 2016

A video shows a giant alligator walking across a Florida golf course.

A video purportedly showing a giant alligator walking across a golf course in Florida appeared in May 2016:

Talk about a hazard! A giant alligator took a stroll across the fairway, making his way to the lake beside the third hole at Buffalo Creek Golf Club.

Golfer Charles Helms took the video at the Buffalo Creek Golf Club in Palmetto, Florida. While it has been shared by several credible news sources, such as Time and The Guardian, many viewers were skeptical about the footage and claimed that it was a "CGI" alligator.  However, the footage — like the alligator —  is real. Course employee Wendy Schofield said that the enormous reptile frequents the golf course and has become the club's unofficial mascot:

"People have heard that he is out here and that is all they want to see so they will bring spectators to ride so somebody can get a picture," pro shop clerk Wendy Schofield told News 3. "He doesn't bother anybody and they don't bother him. ...""

It is not uncommon to spot alligators roaming the golf courses in Florida. Another huge alligator earned fifteen minutes of social media fame when it strolled across a golf course in Englewood, Florida, in March 2015:

alligator golf

The size of the alligator featured in the footage at Buffalo Creek Golf Club is unknown, but Schofield estimated that the animal could be up to sixteen feet long.  According to Yale ecologist and large predator expert Adam Rosenblatt, however, it's probably not that large: 

In general, people think alligators they see are much bigger than they actually are. The recent one that was filmed walking across a golf course in Florida was widely reported as 15 ft. long, but nobody measured it so nobody knows how long it is in reality. Given that only three alligators in Florida have ever officially been measured as longer than 14 ft., it is highly unlikely that the alligator on the golf course is 15 ft. long. My own educated guess is that the golf course gator is 12-13 ft. long.

As of 2014, the longest known credible record for an American alligator is 14 feet, 9.25 inches (450.0cm) long.


John, Tara.   "Watch a Giant Alligator Take a Stroll Across a Florida Golf Course Like It's Jurassic Park."     Time.   31 May 2016.

The Guardian.   "Giant Alligator Crosses Florida Golf Course – Video."     31 May 2016.

Forest, Ashley.   "Giant Alligator Roams Golf Course in Florida."     KSNV-TV.   26 May 2016.

Brunell, Arnold.   "A New Record for the Maximum Length of the American Alligator."     Southeastern Naturalist.   September 2015.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.