Oct 6, 2010

Posted in News

Park Job: Lake claims its first victim

Park Job: Lake claims its first victim

The first OB for the Championship didn’t come from a disc thrown from a USDGC competitor, nope, the red flag first came out after a Ford Explorer splashed into Winthrop’s Lake near hole 5 around the time the first players were teeing off this morning.

Chris Heeren of  Wisconsin had parked his SUV along the road not far from hole 5′s tee so he and his passenger Zac Cobus could take a picture of the lake in its early morning splendor.

“For the record, it was Zac who wanted the picture,” Heeren said.

But just as Cobus had snapped the photo they heard the hole’s spotter yelling ‘what is that’ followed by a mighty splash. After hearing the commotion, Heeren said he thought to himself ‘why is there a car in the lake,’ when the tragic news dawned on him. What made it worse was that Heeren had just recently bought the vehicle.

Heeren was in disbelief, but still light-hearted as a group of some 30 people made up of Winthrop police, tournament officials, disc golfers, Winthrop maintenance personnel, and others began congregating around the unique scene. The accident would later back up all tee times by thirty minutes.

“I’ve been driving for 18 years,” Heeren said, adding he knew he put the automatic shifter in park.

Both Heeren and Cobus were scheduled to tee off this morning.

“All of our discs are inside it and we can’t go get them,” Heeren said.

About half an hour into it, tow trucks from Interstate Towing of Rock Hill arrived on the scene. One of the crew members donning fluorescent rain pants had to wade into the lake nearly waist deep as he connected the tow line to the Explorer’s rear.

About an hour after the accident, Heeren made his tee time after retrieving his discs from his soggy car, but Cobus was delayed for three holes.

Event director Jonathon Poole was standing by trying to get the tournament back running.

When asked if he’d ever seen something like this at one of the 12 tournaments he’s run, he simply said, “I hadn’t seen this.”

Winthrop Lake Park manager Charlie McDonald said this was actually not the first occurrence of a vehicle in the lake. He said a few years ago, a stolen car was deposited in the lake, however, it was closer to the shore.

The splashdown is only the latest turn of bad luck for the duo, who traveled from Janesville, Wisc. last week. After two hours into their journey south, they realized one of them had forgotten their wallet and they had to turn back, adding four hours to their ride.

After finally making it to their rest stop in Kentucky, they were unexpectedly met by police as they were entering their cheap motel room. Cobus said the police, with guns drawn, were yelling at them to get on the ground. Caught off guard, the two did, and later found out authorities were investigating an apparent stabbing in a nearby room.

With all of this happening, it will be a feat if Heeren and Cobus will be able to concentrate on the course today.

With the new stroke & distance penalty predicted to be a headache for players this year, Heeren and Cobus have already seen the worst of it.

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