Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At Isla Del Sol golf course, theft suspects have feathers and beaks

A crow snatches a golf ball Sunday on hole No. 9 at Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club in St. Petersburg. “It’s become a game,” says John Quinn, an assistant pro at the club. Keys, watches, food and cigarettes are also frequent targets.

Kenneth L. Hawkins Jr. | Times

A crow snatches a golf ball Sunday on hole No. 9 at Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club in St. Petersburg. “It’s become a game,” says John Quinn, an assistant pro at the club. Keys, watches, food and cigarettes are also frequent targets.


Golfer Steve Clark watched with admiration as his playing partner's approach shot from the fairway landed just inches from the hole, leaving him a short putt for a birdie.

But when they approached the green, the golfers encountered a different kind of birdie.

"We watched in amazement as a crow swooped in and took the ball," Clark said.

Golf balls aren't the only things that are disappearing at the driving range and golf course at the Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club along the Pinellas Bayway.

Crows are also snatching keys, watches, cigarettes and food from the carts of unsuspecting golfers. They even eat the flowers around the club, said Blake Spencer, who works in the pro shop.

Last year, a crow swiped a pouch of jewelry from a player's cart. The pouch ended up on the roof of Building D in Casa del Mar, said Dorothy Hoy, a resident of Playa Escondida since 1980 and an original member of the country club.

But the crows' favorite loot seems to be golf balls. They like both the smaller, lighter balls on the driving range and the larger, heavier balls they pilfer from the fairways and greens.

Yellow balls don't stand a chance, say some players, while others say the crows seem to prefer Titleist Pro V1s, one of the more expensive brands. Holes 6, 7, 12 and 16 seem to be the crows' favorite hangouts, Hoy said.

It's unclear why the crows at Isla have taken to swiping golf balls.

"Crows are kind of strange like that," said Don Margeson, coordinator for the St. Petersburg Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count. "Fish crows are prevalent in south Pinellas County, and they're mischievous. They build big nests in pine trees and they like to raid other birds' nests."

"They're mistaking them for eggs," said Dino Anasri, the country club's superintendent.

Most of the balls wind up in the palm trees that line the course, he said. When landscapers recently trimmed a palm near the club's guest lounge, 30 balls fell to the ground.

Some balls have been found in palm trees in nearby Pass-a-Grille and in the Gulf of Mexico.

But not everyone agrees with Anasri's egg theory.

"At this point, they know it's not an egg," said John Quinn, an assistant pro at the club. "They know spite. It's become a game."

Isla Del Sol isn't the only course with a crow problem.

For more than five years, crows have been tearing up the greens at Treasure Bay Golf & Tennis in Treasure Island.

"When we change the cup location, the crows go to the previous spot and tear the turf right off the top," said Kevin Fairchild, superintendent at Treasure Bay. "They're the bane of my existence because they can do so much damage so fast," he said.

"They're little kleptomaniacs. They like shiny things, said Fairchild, who said he has exhausted all options to rid the course of the birds.

"We've tried all sorts of goofy things, including goose repellent and crushed red pepper. Some experts have suggested fireworks, but who are they kidding?"

Migratory birds are protected, Margeson said. "My advice would be to call the Fish and Wildlife Commission and ask is there are any successful solutions," he said.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at or at (727) 893-8874.

At Isla Del Sol golf course, theft suspects have feathers and beaks 06/21/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 3:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  2. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  3. Photo gallery: Nation pays respects to America's war dead on Memorial Day

    Human Interest

    At Memorial Day ceremonies in Tampa Bay area and around the country, Americans paid tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with rhythm section. On Saturday local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops placed flags on veterans???‚??„? graves prior to the event. This is an annual tradition of Curlew Hills' Memorial Day services and helps the Scout troops achieve merit badges. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
  4. Protest sparks Texas lawmaker threats of gun violence


    AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of protesters opposing Texas' tough new anti-"sanctuary cities" law launched a raucous demonstration from the public gallery in the Texas House on Monday, briefly halting work and prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle — and even threaten gun violence — as tense …

  5. Photo gallery: 20 mugshots of pro athletes arrested in Florida - 1994 to 2017


    In light of today's arrest of Tiger Woods in Jupiter, Florida on DUI charges, here are 20 booking mugs of professional athletes who have been arrested in Florida, from 1994 (Jennifer …

    Desmond Bryant - 2005 - Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was arrested in Miami on charges of criminal mischief after allegedly "going to a neighbor's house inebriated and causing a commotion."