Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A 'Caddyshack' controversy at a Trump golf course in L.A.: Gopher hunting

President Donald Trump turns to the clubhouse crowd as he arrives to enter his presidential viewing stand, Sunday, July 16, 2017, during the U.S. Women's Open Golf tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. [Associated Press]

President Donald Trump turns to the clubhouse crowd as he arrives to enter his presidential viewing stand, Sunday, July 16, 2017, during the U.S. Women's Open Golf tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. [Associated Press]

At the cliffside Trump National Golf Club near Los Angeles, golfers can enjoy an 18-hole course with striking views of Pacific Ocean bluffs and sprawling hills of green.

But the picturesque course is now the object of an investigation, and it has nothing to do with Russia.

Photos published this week in the Daily Breeze, a local newspaper, captured a man driving around the course in a golf cart while another passenger aimed some type of long gun. The paper hedged at what the "rifleman" might have been hunting, saying "a gopher or gophers" were the "likely target."

These furry little rodents can cause expensive damages to golf courses. Generally, maintenance crews can eradicate them using gopher traps and bait.

Gopher or no gopher, the Daily Breeze couldn't resist evoking the 1980 comedy Caddyshack, in which groundskeeper Carl Spackler, played by Bill Murray, relentlessly and haphazardly tries to wipe out gophers from a fictional Illinois golf club.

[Times files]

Bill Murray as Carl Spackler in "Caddyshack."

The identity of this mysterious gun wielder and the type of weapon he was holding, were not entirely clear either. Representatives from the golf club did not respond to requests for comment.

But the city manager in Rancho Palos Verdes told the Washington Post that city officials are investigating the incident to see if the club broke a city ordinance.

Doug Willmore, the city manager, said that Rancho Palos Verdes' city code prohibits the discharge of "any gun, revolver, pistol, firearm, spring gun, air gun, sling (or slingshot)" within city limits. It allows an exemption for those using a gun to protect farm crops — but only with a permit.

The Trump course did not get such a permit. In fact, no such permit has been issued in about 10 years, Deputy Planning Director So Kim told the Daily Breeze.

The code says a violation of that ordinance would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine or six months in jail.

Willmore told the Post the weapon was a "pellet gun," not a rifle, and that it had been wielded by a contractor — not a course employee. The Daily Breeze reported that the man with the rifle was "ostensibly" a groundskeeper.

"We're checking into it, and we'll be talking to the Trump Organization to find out the details," Willmore said.

Lt. Alise Norman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, told the Daily Breeze that she did not receive any notification from the golf club that a firearm would be used.

The county does not use guns on any of its 20 golf courses, Terry Kankari, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation told the Daily Breeze, adding that county parks and recreation staff don't use firearms in any other capacity.

Representatives from other golf courses in the area told the newspaper they were surprised to hear that someone might be using a firearm on a southern California course to get rid of rodents.

One of the club's general managers said that using weapons to eradicate gophers and other critters is more common in the Midwest and in rural areas.

Indeed, other Caddyshack critter-shooting scenarios have been reported, including some in the Midwest. A few years ago, two men were arrested after they were hired to shoot raccoons and skunks at a Wisconsin golf course. In Minnesota, a group of men were given permission to hunt geese on a golf course through an arrangement between the city and the course.

But on this Los Angeles County golf course, the photos of the weapon-wielding man and his accomplice were captured by local photographer Chuck Bennett last week. He happened to be at the golf course shooting pictures for a different assignment.

"I live on the coast so I figured I'd see if I could get the barren empty course on my drive home," Bennett told the Post. "The place is deserted."

Indeed, the Southern California golf course, located in a largely Democratic area, has seen a recent drop in business. Since Trump entered the presidential race in June 2015, revenue from greens fees at the L.A. club has dropped by 13 percent, according to figures from the city government, the Post reported last month.

"So I go to this cool overlook and see these dudes taking shots," Bennett said. He ran back to his car, grabbed a camera, and fired away, capturing the images.

Annie Donohue, 35, of Los Angeles, worked at the Trump National Golf Club for several years.

About a decade ago, she recalled learning that the head groundskeeper at the time would go around in the mornings shooting rabbits on the course.

"I remember how bad I felt when I first heard about this at work," Donohue told the Post. "He had a really sweet border collie that was always with him."

She had forgotten about the rabbits until she saw the Daily Breeze article.

"As an animal lover, it bothered me," she said, "but I wasn't surprised."

The Rancho Palos Verdes course is one of 17 Trump owns worldwide. Trump says he spent $27 million to buy this course, and $250-plus million to repair it and reopen it in 2006.

"The most expensive golf course ever built," Trump has called it, the Post reported. Unlike most other Trump clubs, it is open to the public, instead of being limited to dues-paying members.

Since Trump won the election, the club has seen its share of political protests. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that it saw someone urinate on the sign. And in March, Trump's course was vandalized by people calling themselves environmental activists, who carved into the turf the words "No More Tigers. No More Woods."

Willmore, the city manager, said it might take about a week to determine whether the golf club broke any statutes, or did anything at all.

"We'll also be looking at exact wording of our ordinances," he told the Post.

He noted that the city statute doesn't mention pellet guns specifically.

"The gophers may not know the difference," he joked.

A 'Caddyshack' controversy at a Trump golf course in L.A.: Gopher hunting 08/04/17 [Last modified: Friday, August 4, 2017 7:07am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs

    Ml

    CHICAGO — Yu Darvish pitched into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

    Los Angeles Dodgers' Chris Taylor hits a home run Tuesday during the third inning of Game 3 of baseball's National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. [Associated Press]
  2. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  3. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

    Wengay Newton, Florida House of Representatives (in front, in center), talks as a panelist to a packed room during a community forum on "Reclaiming our Youth: Is Juvenile Justice a Reality?" at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg Wednesday evening (10/17/17). The event was presented by the Fred G. Minnis, Sr. Bar Association. Community leaders discussed the ongoing auto theft epidemic among Pinellas youth.
  5. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse

    Politics

    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …