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Time spent golfing is never un-bear-able

There's golf and there's golfing in northwestern Wisconsin.

We've vacationed in the Hayward-Spooner area for more than 25 years, and we've played a good number of courses in the area.

You almost always come back with animal stories. Animals you see on the courses.

Teal Wing Golf Course, nestled in the woods near Cable, Wis., is a good one for that. One year we met up with a red fox. It was just kind of looking at us from the edge of one of the fairways.

As we came closer, the fox stood there, watching us approach. A member of our group rolled a golf ball toward the animal, and it still didn't move. We went ahead and hit our shots to the green. I'll have to admit, it's difficult to concentrate with a fox in view.

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We were told later that we were lucky the fox didn't pick up our golf ball and run off with it because that's what they do there.

Another time, while playing the same course, my partner was putting on the first green and all of a sudden, a spotted fawn comes bounding across the green, not 30 feet from where we were standing.

I wound up three-putting, but I'm perfectly capable of three-putting without Bambi distracting me.

The creature left tiny hoof prints on the green.

That brings us to our latest animal story.

We were about to tee off a couple of weeks ago on the first hole at Butternut Hills, a picturesque course on the banks of Long Lake near Serona, Wis.

As I was getting ready to hit away, people standing around the tee area began hollering, "Look, look, a bear."

Sure enough, there was a big black bear bounding across the fairway about 150 yards in front of us, at 9 o'clock in the morning.

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I didn't know what to do, so I just stood there and watched. We all watched. But I guarantee you if that bear had headed our way we would've trampled each other trying to get to the safety of the clubhouse.

The bear crossed the entire golf course before it faded from sight.

The group of locals behind us waiting to tee off -- a group that included former Rochester resident Dick Johnson -- didn't seem fazed by it.

"I had one get into my garage a couple of weeks ago," one of them said.

That didn't soothe me. As I began my round, I was thinking if I hit a ball into the woods, I wasn't going in there to look for it. Papa bear could have been waiting for me.

It did get me to thinking: What's more rare, a hole-in-one or seeing a bear on a golf course? I suppose the USGA doesn't keep those records.

As we were completing play on the 14th hole, we had more company. This time there was an animal running along the fairway next to us.

We hardly looked that way. It was only a deer. Whew!

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Brown is executive sports editor of the Post-Bulletin. His column appears every Wednesday and Saturday. He can be reached at brown@postbulletin.com.

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