When it comes to megafauna crashing golf courses in North America, a lot of folks immediately think of the alligators of the southeastern U.S., so fond of prowling water hazards (be careful retrieving those wayward balls), swaggering around the greens like they own the place, and sometimes using the wide-open spaces to straight-up duke it out.

But the latest news items concerning golf-course beasts are focused on a shaggier, more warm-blooded variety. Namely Ursus americanus, the American black bear, star of not one but two viral videos this month.

In one, taken by Arden Botha and all over social-media channels at this point, a trio of black-bear cubs are out and about – and apparently very much ready to rumble – on a golf course at Lake Toxaway in western North Carolina. One full-of-moxie cub engages in mock battle with a flagstick: tackling and wrestling it, spurred on, it seems, by its opponent’s dogged springiness. Its two littermates, meanwhile, aim the same kind of pugilistic spirit at one another in the background. All three of them showing plenty of devil-may-care spunk out there on the course, but presumably watched over by mama bear somewhere off-camera.

The second widely shared video hails from across the continent, in western Canada: the Swaneset Bay Resort & Country Club in British Columbia, to be exact. There, golfer Tim Jeves was recently unnerved by the sight of a black bear running straight at him, spooked by a golf cart. “Honestly, I didn’t have time to really think,” Jeves told USA Today/FTW Outdoors. “I won’t say I ran, but I definitely didn’t back away slowly. I was moving quickly and loudly calling out, ‘Hey bear! Hey bear!’”

The bear, as it happens, didn’t pursue Jeves, but rather retreated to a tree before engaging in a nervous-looking faceoff with his abandoned golf clubs. Jeves labeled his video “Stationary Golf Clubs Worthy Adversary for Scared Bear.”

American black bears are thought to be the most numerous of the world’s ursids, and they not only range across a goodly portion of the North American continent, but show an impressive adaptability to many developed rural and suburban spaces within that domain. And that puts quite a few golf courses within their potential stomping-ground.

Should you yourself run into a black bear during your game, give it plenty of room and calmly back away. Such an animal almost assuredly wants nothing to do with you, but – as in the British Columbia sighting – it may be a bit stressed-out and unpredictable. If approached by a bear, either continue slowly backing away or hold your ground while, in either case, shouting, clapping, and waving your arms to appear as large and assertive as possible.

(And in the western U.S. and Canada, be aware that grizzly bears – the bigger, testier, humpbacked cousin of the black bear – sometimes make their own cameos on golf courses in the Wildland-Urban Interface.)

Now we’re just waiting for a video – out of, say, Florida or the Carolinas – to show both black bears and alligators doing their things on a golf course at the same time. If you’re playing a round or two down there, keep your eyes peeled...

Header image: Ben Forsyth