When it comes to surprise snake encounters, it seems golfing in South Africa rivals hiking in Australia. This pair of battling black mambas took their fight to the green recently on a course just outside of the Kruger National Park. 

The footage, which was posted to the Latest Sightings YouTube channel this week, was filmed at Leopard Creek Country Club near Kruger's Malelane Gate.

"At first glance, I thought it was a spitting cobra that had its hood up," says contributor Cara, who filmed the encounter. "I then saw it was actually two mambas. I quickly flagged the other two players in my four ball to slow down.”

This behaviour is often confused for mamba mating, and we've seen it before – most recently during a similar encounter back in 2015:

Both local herpetologist Johan Marais and snake expert Shaun Bodington explain that the twisting brawl is usually a show of bravado between males. By repeatedly trying to top one another, the snakes prove their worthiness as a fit mate. And much like in a human wrestling match, the weaker of the two eventually bows out. This is precisely what golfers witnessed at Leopard Creek.

"It was amazing to watch and seemed to go on for ages," says Cara. "We debated about carrying on playing the hole, but after a little while longer, we decided to drive past them at a wide berth and go to the next hole."

The golfers made the right call: while mambas aren't the people-chasing aggressors they're often made out to be, these snakes are highly venomous and should be treated with respectful (and extreme) caution at all times. 

After a lengthy spat, the two males separated and slithered back into the bush – the victor likely headed toward a lurking female. "We found concentrating on golf quite difficult over the next few holes," Cara recalls. "I feel this was a once-in-a-lifetime sighting. Always make sure you have a camera on this golf course!"

Black Mamba Anatomy _related _2015_09_16

Top header image: Tad Arensmeier/Flickr