Chubbs the Alligator Once Again Raises His Profile on the Links

Chubbs the Alligator Once Again Raises His Profile on the Links
Chubbs the Alligator Once Again Raises His Profile on the Links

Chubbs the alligator is quite a sight when he strolls across a golf course in Palmetto, Fla.

The slow-moving, chunky reptile has long been a resident of Buffalo Creek Golf Course, about 20 miles north of Sarasota. But when a video of him surfaced online in 2016, it quickly went viral.

If you watch , you can see why: Chubbs is a massive presence as he “high walks” across the fairways and golf cart pathways, slowly making his way from a reservoir to other lakes across the 18-hole course. Online, people suggested he looked as i he was straight out of “Jurassic Park,” or created through special effects, or maybe Photoshopped.

His very existence was questioned so much that websites like Snopes and PolitiFact fact-checked the claim. (Both rated the claim as true.) Ken Powell, a former regional manager for Pope Inc., which manages the public course, has the photos and videos to prove it. Chubbs, he said, is “very real, and very large.”

“The locals know him,” he said in an interview on Thursday. Chubbs was once again the center of attention this week after

of him trudging along the golf course spread.

Mr. Powell, now a head golf professional with Pope Inc., said he first encountered the alligator in 2011 when he began working at the Buffalo Creek Golf Course. Chubbs had already been a fixture there for years.

While it is fairly common to see gators on golf courses in Florida, Chubbs appears unusually large.

It is hard to know exactly how long Chubbs is without measuring him, said Frank Mazzotti, a professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Florida, and determining the gator’s sex would require a personal inspection, which no one has done. He suspects Chubbs is a male because females hardly grow more than nine feet, and Chubbs appears to be longer than that. (People tend to default to the pronoun “he” when talking about the alligator.)

In 2016, a man golfing at the course captured video of Chubbs, and someone can be heard saying, “I think that’s two guys in an alligator suit.” After that, the alligator, well known and respected at a distance by frequent visitors, drew an international audience.

Mr. Powell did interviews broadcast around the world, from a Japanese TV show to a Scottish radio station, and he posted his own video to counter the claims that Chubbs was a fake. Soon, Mr. Powell said, the company asked people to help name the reptile, who is called Chubbs after a character from the movie “Happy Gilmore” who lost his arm to an alligator.

Alligators are not to be messed with: The remains of a woman in Florida who had disappeared in June were found hours later — in an alligator. But although Chubbs may appear scary, larger alligators cannot move as quickly as smaller ones, Dr. Mazzotti said. (Mr. Powell said Chubbs has not hurt anyone as far as he knows.)

Exaggerations about Chubbs’s size are rampant. While some have estimated he is 14 to 15 feet long, Abby Lawson, a Ph.D. candidate studying alligator population dynamics at Clemson University, said alligators that size are rare.

Ms. Lawson said size estimates based on photos and videos can be biased because of body conditions. Chubbs, she said, appears well fed.

“If people are that amazed or impressed by it, does it really matter if it’s not a record-breaker?” she said.

The largest alligator recorded in Florida was 14 feet 3½ inches, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

For all the attention he is receiving, Chubbs’s routine has not changed much. He generally surfaces from the reservoir near hole No. 3, crossing over to Nos. 8 and 9 before heading to Nos. 5 and 6 — and golfers tend to have the good sense to stay away from the wild reptile.

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

NEXT Malawi court halts work on Gandhi statue after critics brand him racist